As a designer, every choice I make will impact users. And those designs will either lower or raise barriers for usage. Font size, color combinations, interactivity, use of media—they all affect the user experience. A UX professional’s goal is to make sure every consumer feels included, regardless of age, culture, ability, gender, or other differences. That is why inclusive design is so important. From a business perspective, it is important to be inclusive and adhere to best practices and guidelines, like the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for legal reasons and to avoid fines. However, as good netizens, we know that inclusion is important because it demonstrates respect for the unique needs of all consumers.
In this article, we will examine how inclusive design can elevate your brand in two ways: fiscally and ethically.
Designing for inclusivity means embracing marginalized communities. Inclusive design encapsulates both the accessibility and usability of digital products. Accessibility refers to measures taken to specifically level the playing field for people who experience barriers to access otherwise. There are many laws and governing bodies that outline and oversee accessibility guidelines at the federal, state, and local level. Usability more broadly refers to how easy it is for people to use the product. For example, if you were to increase the font on your website to make the text easier to read for people with visual disabilities, that is a matter of accessibility. However, if you re-label tabs on your homepage to be more intuitive for any user, that is a matter of usability.
To be ADA compliant, legislation states that all electronics, digital experiences, and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. Inclusivity is not only representative of ADA compliance, but also about being welcoming to all audiences. This wider audience is comprised of individuals of all sexual orientations, genders, and ethnicities. Further, there is a need to design products for everyone, regardless of location, language, or digital literacy.
How Inclusive Design Impacts Ethics
Being ethical in design means understanding how design decisions affect others. Ethical design can be complex because there isn’t necessarily a checklist to follow. It’s about understanding who our product uses are, or taking that a step further, who “may use” our products. When it comes to UX design, in some ways, it’s more about understanding culture, than it is about technology. It’s about designing products that are inclusive for all.
Inclusivity creates goodwill and attracts customers. However, sometimes design can inadvertently ostracize an audience. To avoid this issue, consider wording that is open to as wide an audience as possible from a perspective of designing for all potential users and don’t be afraid to ask questions. From an ethical perspective, it’s always better to understand, rather than to think that you know or have all the answers.
Business Impacts of Inclusive Design
Did you know the disability population is estimated to be 1.85 billion? This demographic accounts for $13 trillion in annual disposable income. These numbers represent a potential customer base with strong buying power. Failure to consider accessibility when designing your application or website may unnecessarily limit your client base or participants.
Lost customers mean lost Income. Picture someone who is vision impaired and attempting to use a website, but having issues because the font is too small. Chances are that the company lost a potential customer, which translates into lost revenue. According to the CDC, there are approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States who experience vision impairment. That is a large number of the population who is potentially being undeserved by the website in this example. Important to note, a visual limitation should not automatically equate to a user with a physical disability. There is a need to understand that disabilities/limitations could be temporary or could be a natural course of nature as well. Therefore, in design, it’s imperative to take the “limits” from our thinking, and instead think of the big picture when it comes to inclusivity.
Additionally, non-compliance is a big issue and can lead to penalties, fines, and lawsuits. In 2014, the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by the Civil Rights Division increased, whereas businesses and organizations can be fined up to $75,000 for a single ADA violation. Many large companies have encountered lawsuits regarding website accessibility.
ADA Compliance, Diversity, and Inclusion are Keys to Empowerment
Inclusivity should be at the heart of design. Accessibility and universal designing principles are easier to implement as a forethought, rather than an afterthought. Companies who promote diversity and inclusivity are empowering their employees, appealing to customers, and creating growth. With the idea of designing for a greater audience, you’re adhering to ethical standards, while also eliminating the costly repercussions associated with non-compliance fees. For ethical, legal, and business reasons, it’s in the best interest of designers and enterprise leaders to focus on accessibility in digital UX. An inclusive UX design enables your organization to elevate your brand.
Apexon UX/CX services deliver important business advantages. Leveraging its expertise in UX, Apexon assists businesses with accessible design for websites and applications, consequently helping them to remain ADA compliant, while also increasing customer loyalty. To learn more, check out Apexon’s UX strategy and design services or get in touch using the form below.