Inclusive Design Is About Addressing Mismatching Conditions

The work of Kat Holmes has profoundly influenced how I think about design these days. There’s that moment when someone encounters difficulty in using a service or product and thinks to themself, “Am I dumb?” And Kat points out that it can be re-framed as how the service or product wasn’t designed to accommodate that person’s unique situation. So they aren’t dumb — instead it’s more like the designers of the product or service were designing excludingly. Did those designers do so on purpose? Was it unconscious bias?

Rather than ask questions of WHY these things happen, I’m more curious these days about what kind of solutions exist out there to do, as Kat Holmes says, to address this difference in understanding we tend to have:

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so when designers are able to address the “mismatched human interactions” that can be presented with solutions that are more likely to match then that’s a much better design. Period.

My Automattic Design colleague Davide Casali pointed out the above gender picker design by Google to me this morning. It’s quite good — don’t you think? I look forward to seeing more inclusive designs like this in the future. And when I say “inclusion” — I mean all forms of inclusion that aren’t just limited to gender matters. There’s A LOT of the world to include :-). —JM

If you’re interested in inclusive design, we’re hiring.

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