Inclusive Design is human-centered design. It considers the full range of human diversity, including ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference, as part of the design process. Inclusive Design triggers innovation, opens new markets and creates richer engagement with customers and citizens.
The three dimensions of Inclusive Design
We emphasise three dimensions of Inclusive Design, in keeping with best practice research by our partners at the Inclusive Design Research Centre in Toronto:
1. Recognise diversity and uniqueness
Inclusive Design keeps the diversity and uniqueness of everyone in mind. As individuals spread out from the hypothetical average, the needs of individuals that are outliers, or at the margins, become even more diverse. Most individuals stray from the average in some facet of their needs or goals. This means that a mass solution does not work well.
Optimal Inclusive Design is best achieved through 'one-size-fit-one' configurations.
2. Inclusive process and tools – ‘nothing about us without us’
The process of design and the tools used in design are inclusive. Groups that include diverse perspectives, especially perspectives from the margins, trumps a group of the ‘best and brightest’ in decision-making, accurate prediction and in innovation. Inclusive Design teams should be as diverse as possible and include individuals who have a lived experience of the ‘extreme users’ the designs are intended for.
3. Broader beneficial impact
Inclusive designers are aware of the context and broader impact of any design, and strive to achieve a beneficial impact beyond the direct beneficiary of the design. Inclusive Design should trigger a virtuous cycle of inclusion, leverage the ‘curb-cut effect’, and recognise the interconnectedness of users and systems.
The value of Inclusive Design
The value of Inclusive Design is that it is a process for seeing what is unseen. By offering challenging and alternative perspectives usually not considered in problem design and solution design, Inclusive Design offers a platform for deep innovation that can:
- Open markets from 80% to 100% of customers
- Enhance your reputation and trust by solving problems before they occur
- Provide a profound point of difference for workforce and client engagement
- Move inclusion and diversity from an HR adjunct to a core commercial imperative