inclusive design, user experience

Why are inclusive designs so important for great user experience?

It’s common in the design community to talk about UX without any mention of inclusive designs, and about UX with no mention of user experience. Both are highly problematic.

How can a varied variety of individuals have a great experience if design decisions aren’t inclusive of the diverse demands of the people interacting with it?

If design decisions are made without engaging with the people who will use it, then how likely will the design match their expectations?

What is a great user experience?

If you ask five people the same question, you will likely get five different replies, each of which will probably only cover one component of the experience. You’ll hear someone say, “Make it simple to use.” Usability is crucial, but are unethical design patterns still used? Make it accessible, another will say. Although accessibility is essential, does the design continue to disregard other social identities?

Our race, ethnicity, country, age, gender, class, religion, handicap, and sexual orientation are examples of social identities. Studies on stereotypes and challenges to our social identities have shown that when people undervalue our social identities, we get anxious, worried, and perform worse.


Users shouldn’t be “othered” as some odd species by using the term “users” for anything other than expanding scope. The people who interact with our designs are simply called users. People need to be understood, appreciated, and valued, as has been amply demonstrated by psychologists and neuroscientists1, and this is also true of our users.


Before we really utilize a product, or even when we only contemplate it for our purposes, we have an experience with it. The user experience thus begins with the content and graphics used to promote the product.

Outstanding User Experience

We feel understood, appreciated, and valued when using a product or service that is simple to use, efficient, respects diversity, and causes no damage.

More than only usability and accessibility are necessary for great experiences. Numerous studies have shown that when our social identities—such as our race, ethnicity, country, age, gender, class, religion, handicap, or sexual orientation—are undervalued by others, we suffer anxiety, fear, and poorer performance.

How can we design quality user experiences?

Inclusive designs are the key to great user experience. We have to make sure the design is equal, usable, accessible, and moral. This cannot be done by speculating and depending on our preconceived notions. The people who will utilize the product must be involved in all stages of design, from concept through maintenance (O&M).

By working with the people the design will serve, having diverse representation in teams, and concentrating on the design’s impact on their experience, the inclusive design offers a framework for addressing various needs and expectations.

As a framework, the inclusive design doesn’t follow a step-by-step procedure but instead offers a framework for addressing the essential elements of creating wonderful, inclusive user experiences.

Creating Inclusive Designs

An aspect of the framework for inclusive design

Adapt to a range of expectations and needs

The inclusive design qualities that people need and need include accessibility, usability, equity, and ethics:

Accessible design reduces barriers so that information and features may be accessible and used by anybody, regardless of their hearing, movement, visual, speech, or cognitive limitations, which may be permanent, temporary, or situational.

The usable design takes into account abilities and limitations in the domains of perception, memory, attention, learning, language, and reasoning to ensure that goals may be completed effectively, efficiently, and satisfactorily.

Any social identity, including color, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, class, religion, disability, or sexual orientation, is respected in the equitable design, which is free of bias.

The transparent, honest, and protective nature of the ethical design does no harm to anyone’s rights, safety, or privacy.

Each of these quality indicators has a distinct set of rules, values, or criteria.

We can be confident we’re accounting for the most important elements of the user experience by taking the time to address each of these design characteristics.

Work together with the intended audience whom you’re designing for

Making design decisions without using our assumptions, which are confined to our personal experiences and unconscious prejudices, is a crucial component of inclusive design.

There are numerous ways to interact with and learn about our users. Although not exhaustive, this list provides some of the more popular techniques:

  • Through open-ended questions and observation, contextual interviews give us the chance to understand a person’s objectives, driving forces, thought processes, and pain spots.
  • By asking participants to record their daily activities and experiences in a journal over time, diary studies are used to gather data about user needs and behavior.
  • Testing for accessibility makes ensuring that designs adhere to accessibility guidelines that take into consideration different abilities and limits.
  • ‍Usability testing enables watching and listening as users engage with a design to carry out useful tasks.
  • Users of the product take an active part in the design process using the participatory design (or co-design) method.
  • To create designs that are inclusive, we must question our presumptions, draw from a variety of life experiences, and consult the intended audience when making decisions.

Have diverse representation within teams

The value of having a diverse design team cannot be overstated. We each bring our limited experiences to our work. So, a team of people with vastly different lived experiences can “learn from each other and voice divergent opinions.”

As a result, there is a greater opportunity to recognize which audience segments we may be excluding from the design process and determine what negative experiences we may be failing to prevent. Innovation depends on diverse individuals coming together and leveraging their differences.

Focus on the impact your design will be making

A product’s success is strongly related to how its design affects users’ experiences.

For instance, some workers won’t be able to finish their responsibilities if the accessibility work is added to the queue to be addressed after launch. A diverse audience should be respected and welcomed through language and imagery, or else certain people may feel left out or offended.

  • An accessible design increases success rates when people use it.
  • A usable design increases time on task and reduces error rates for users.
  • People are more satisfied with a design when they see it as equitable.
  • The perception of an ethical design increases people’s trust.

Every design choice has the potential to include or exclude the people whose experiences we are building, with effects ranging from positive to negative.

Final Reflections

Each and every user/person we work with offers a lot of knowledge regarding the effects of our designs, knowledge that our teams would not have otherwise acquired.

We need to understand how users interact with our designs in order to create fantastic user experiences. People must be involved in the process if we are to understand how they are reacting to our designs.

As experience designers, it is our responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent customers from feeling misrepresented, underrepresented, or alienated by the goods, services, and environments we create. It is our duty to improve people’s lives, not detract from them.

To read more on the importance of inclusive designs you can read my detailed post here.


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We would like to thank all the third-party sources that we have used in our blog posts, for their respective resources.