Blog by Raam Shanker

The Changing Face of Design: Part 4 – Inclusivity

Last week we spoke influencing factor 2: Care for our planet. Today we speak about inclusivity.

Go to any professional network and you hear people talk about diversity and inclusion. You might even hear phrases like ‘diversity is natural, but inclusion is choice’. These conversations currently revolve around the workplace, careers, opportunities, and to everyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic background and many such factors.

When we look at demographics that are likely to be catered to, you will always find a portion of the target market left on the fringes or on the margins. Here when we say inclusivity, we ask you ‘whether the products you design and develop cater to a wide variety of audiences, including the marginals?’. Allow us to explain this with a few different examples.

Example 1: Population that drives on the left-hand side of the road

65% of the world’s countries drive on the right-hand side of the road. That is two thirds of the world. 65% market share is a high number. However, as we’re all aware, the automotive companies don’t just make cars for the 65%, they also make cars for the other 35%. They do this because they feel it’s worth the effort to cater to the minority and include these countries as part of their market.

Example 2: People who are left-handed Only ca. 10% of the world population is left-handed, but still, 10% of 8 billion is around 800 million. A need in the market, which now seems to have been fulfilled by specialist websites that cater to left-handed people.

Example 3: Culturally appropriate characteristics

What maybe appropriate in one culture may not be acceptable in another culture. You need to ask yourself whether your products are sensitive to various cultures and their characteristics. For example, certain cultures are more emotionally expressive, whilst the others are mellowed, in certain cultures it is the norm to mix work life with personal life, and so forth. Different people respond to stimuli differently, it’s up to the designer to determine what stimuli evoke a positive response and apply that knowledge.

Example 4: People with special requirements and needs

Not everyone is the same. Most of us get by with what’s available on the market. However, some of us require special features. Look around you and you will find tall people, short people, people with small hands, big hands, people who have certain conditions and disabilities which come with special requirements. None of their conditions should make them feel left out. Therefore, it is important to design products for people with these needs. It is also equally important to preserve a sense of subtlety, to hide the fact that it’s designed specifically for certain people.

To summarise it, we leave you with three things today:

  1. Design for the marginals
  2. Be aware of cultural sensitivities
  3. Imbibe the designs with a certain subtlety that enables usability without the feeling of being special