Inclusive Design: Innovating for One Innovates for All

Updated on
May 3, 2024

by Biaunca Edwards & Courtney Chauvenne

Plus 4 ways to implement accessibility into your current strategy.

Designing for accessibility is more than just the right thing to do. When you design for the needs of underrepresented groups, you’re fostering an environment of belonging while also creating a stronger product that will resonate with wider audiences. All in all, building inclusive design into your product and marketing strategies is good for the individual, good for society, and good for business. Here are a handful of examples of practices to ensure that your brand is putting out work that resonates—with all:

Closed Captioning

Providing subtitles on videos has become the social media standard. It was a shift accelerated by TikTok (and recently adopted by Instagram), as they wanted their platform’s videos to be accessible to audiences with hearing impairments. However, as the app became more and more popular, the captions on their videos began to serve other purposes. Namely, users scrolling through TikTok in public without earbuds might want to consume the content without playing the video at full volume. Subtitles solve for this, making every captioned video accessible to audiences watching in public spaces.

Now, a recent study from Verizon Media discovered that 80% of consumers are actually more likely to watch an entire video if it has captions. And 80% of people who use captions aren’t hearing impaired.

High Contrast Design

Creating visual contrast with design elements, colors, and font selections can help improve the digital experience for people who are visually impaired. But making design choices that allow content to be consumed with minimal eye strain benefits a wider audience, too.

High contrast design elements are also helpful for users on mobile who are consuming content on smaller screens or users looking at their screen in the sun. There is a growing number of tools available to designers that measure elements like colors and fonts against accessibility guidelines to ensure their designs are optimized. And the standard for design elements to meet accessibility guidelines is becoming both more uniform and enforced through growing visibility and attention to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Accessibility is always considered in our work, and we’ve used a variety of tools that help us create style guides that align with accessibility standards—testing everything from text color to type size across digital and print.

- Ily Phelps, Senior Designer

Live Chatbots

For elderly people and those less familiar with navigating digital experiences, chatbots provide 1:1 assistance that creates accessibility to the services they might not otherwise be able to find/access. But we’ve also learned that live chatbots create a personalized experience for everyone–making the digital experience feel customized and relevant to everyone who encounters it.

In our work with Mars Petcare, we prototyped a chat solution for pet parents to receive the most seamless, personalized experience possible when curating their pet’s nutrition plan. We found that AI-enabled chatbots gave consumers the 1:1 communication they needed to feel heard and in control of their pet’s health, providing them with the ability to ask questions about ingredients and manage food deliveries.

Readily Available Information

This one's a little more broad—but it's a big one. In many ways, digital experiences offer opportunities to optimize accessibility measures that non-digital systems do not. Take patient care navigation for example. In the past, healthcare providers have used old school paperwork to keep track of medical histories and important patient care information. By adapting to digital experiences using scannable QR codes that save medical records directly to patients' wallets, vulnerable populations who may require urgent medical attention can more easily access important documents so they can receive care when they need it.

On a larger scale, digital healthcare experiences reduce in-office wait times and creates order for everyone—not just our most vulnerable populations.

Innovation and accessibility go hand in hand, enabling new ideas to create usable experiences for everyone. Ultimately, we must understand the end-user's mindset. By practicing inclusive design, improving content comprehension, and exploring assistive technologies, we can continue to create meaningful products. 

- Biaunca Edwards, ACD of Product Design

We're only scratching the surface of how brands can optimize themselves for accessible user experiences that innovate for wide audiences—and solve business problems doing it. Want to talk more about digital experiences? Drop us a line...we'd love to chat.

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