Brands have spent decades designing their messaging, marketing, products, and services for a highly specific and deeply researched “target consumer.”
In theory, this ideal user aligns with the company’s values and is an extremely loyal buyer of the company’s products or services.
But the “average consumer” has ceased to exist.
Modern times have done away with the concept of tailoring entire marketing strategies, product design, and service offerings to a “target audience.” So, how can brands bring their traditional habits into the global market in a way that adapts to all of today’s users?
The solution lies in inclusive design.
More than Just a Trend
The inclusive design may sound like just another buzzword, but it’s here to stay. Universality and accessibility are the two main pillars of inclusive design, which turns the idea of an average user on its head. Instead of focusing on a target or ideal consumer group, the inclusive design considers the wide range of individuals that may visit a company’s website, use its product, service, or technology, or go to its shop, for example.
The focus is on making sure a company’s entire presence – both online and physically – can be accessed and enjoyed by whoever is interested.
The goal of inclusive design is to ensure that an entire world of products and services are accessible to consumers no matter their age, gender, sexual identity, ability, language, or culture. By recognizing users’ needs, the inclusive design aims to deliver high-quality, mindful products and services that are useful to a diverse audience. Within this new design concept, no user is left behind.
The Benefits of Inclusive Design
The inclusive design celebrates the fact that no two users are alike, and inclusive design is all about growing to accommodate and include all types of users with that understanding in mind. Without intending to, traditional design models have excluded certain people from the general consumer landscape by simply not considering their needs.
But incorporating inclusivity and accessibility to your brand’s presence isn’t just a good deed – it will also make your product or service available to an even wider audience. The benefits are twofold.
If you caption or subtitle your social media video content, for example, your videos will not only reach people who won’t or can’t turn sound on (Are you on a crowded bus commuting to work in the morning but forgot your headphones?), but you’ll also be inclusive of the deaf or hard of hearing community. And that’s not all. Captions improve SEO. While Google can’t watch your video content, it can crawl your captions and rank your video based on the keywords found in the caption text.
While the inclusive design is gaining headway in today’s market, many brands have yet to take action. How come? Maybe it’s because they don’t know where to start. Making the conscious decision to be more inclusive with your design isn’t a simple undertaking, but it’s definitely possible. Starting this positive change can be split into two main steps.
The first step is building a stellar team – and that team has to be diverse. Building a curated team of individuals differing in age, native language, nationality, abilities, sexual orientation, gender, political preferences, etc., will give your brand the perspective it requires to come up with design solutions for a wider range of consumers. The right team will give your brand the perspective it needs to incorporate positive change in a positive way.
The second step is involving your diverse audience in your transition to inclusive design. Your brand has made marketing and design plans in the past based on a highly researched and identified ideal “target audience.” Now is the time to do the same thing, but with an audience that incorporates excluded users. Talk to them, listen to their needs, and form a plan on how you’re going to connect with your wider audience.
Taking these first steps towards inclusive design is an undertaking that will be both challenging and rewarding for your brand. While working on the process, it’s important to remember that this approach isn’t just for users with limitations and impairments. Every single person will use and interact with your brand’s products and services differently.
The goal is to make every part of your brand as accessible and inclusive as possible to as many people as possible. Even as we as individuals grow, mature, and age, our limitations or abilities will also shift. Got reading glasses? You won’t interact with the internet the same anymore. Recently had surgery on your hand? The way you use products will change, even if only for a short period of time.
Designers have the power to create new solutions that consider all kinds of people, backgrounds, and skills, building a world that is more inclusive, fair, and accessible. As brands evolve in this new sphere, they have the ability to become a safe space where users can feel comfortable, appreciated, and welcomed.
It’s Time to Go For It!
Now’s a great time for your brand to make its products or services inclusive. Undertaking this new design concept won’t necessarily be easy, but it doesn’t have to be painful either.
By building a diverse team, including a diverse audience in your research, and incorporating inclusive design into your brand, you’ll not only be contributing to a fairer and more accessible world, but you’ll also grow your audience and its reputation in today’s market.