Creating a digital product is a collaborative project requiring various people’s skills and input. From project managers and analysists, to architects and graphic designers, the roles, and responsibilities of everyone involved vary. One of the most important roles, however, is the developer, who translates thoughts and the vision of the product into a reality.
The developer’s primary role is to implementing code, fix bugs, and stabilise the system. In addition to hands-on responsibilities, they also organise meetings and manage any changes in the project timeline. As a result, developers are the most neutral when it comes to an end user’s experience.
Having worked as a developer, I have often found myself wondering about their role in relation to the end-user. Is it reasonable to expect developers to feel empathy for users with different communication requirements? Would it make a difference to the end product? How can we create this environment?
There are small changes organisations can make to support their developers. Here is a guide to make developers more inclusive, sensitive, and, most importantly, empathetic toward end-users with different communication needs.
The first step is encouraging developers to interact with the UX/CX team and Digital Accessibility team in the initial stages of development. Early involvement leads to more significant emotional investment in the project. Encourage developers to share their ideas about the product concept in discussion forums. Find out what their views are on the accessibility implementation roadmap. Whatever level of involvement they have, it is essential they feel included.
Diversity and Inclusion are becoming increasingly important for organisations in all sectors. During the early development stage, organise an inclusion event
, such as an empathy lab, allowing developers to experience different communication modalities in action, like screen readers, colour contract analysers, keyboard-only navigation tools, and voice recognition software.
The more developers can reflect on different perspectives and lived experiences, the more they will be aware of related areas and become sensitive to them over time. Engage developers in the participant interview process to learn of the challenges people face daily. From this they will be able to better recommend/choose technology to support the user.
When developers have reached a point where they are emotionally engaged and ready to act, it’s time to collaborate with the area’s experts.
Introduce them to the digital accessibility team. Your organisation could organise the office so they work side by side. Letting developers interact with accessibility experts directly allows them to expand their understanding, thought process, and communicate with one another. Organise an offline/online accessibility session for developers to discuss their challenges. As a result, their awareness of accessibility issues will be improved, and these issues will never be deemed a low priority.
Creating accessible digital products is more than just a box to tick, it is now a vital part of a wide range of user’s daily life. Accessibility has become an integral part of the product.
To create inclusive, accessible products, developers need to accomplish these three fundamentals: Inclusion, Interaction, and Collaboration. Not only will it help developers, but it will expand the reach of any application.
If you or your organisation would like to learn about about creating inclusive digital products, our highly experienced team can help. To speak to us and to find the right solution, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org