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The Importance of Inclusive Design in Product Development: Why Designing for Diversity Matters


11 min read

The aim of UX designers is to simplify the usage of digital products as much as possible. They achieve this by creating personas, testing designs with users, analyzing use cases, and incorporating UX best practices. Yet, designers sometimes overlook the needs of all potential users.

As a new decade begins in the design world, there is a growing emphasis on inclusive design. Hence, UX specialists in the IT sector should be more inclined to create inclusive products and experiences.

The significance of inclusive design lies in its ability to improve the user experience for a varied audience. About 15% of the world’s population faces some form of disability. This is approximately one billion people. Inclusive design entails empathy towards a diverse audience, which is a vital aspect. It enables the creation of an experience that provides a sense of belonging, rather than making users feel excluded.

Understanding Inclusive Design

So, what is inclusive design? To put it simply, inclusive design involves considering the needs of users that belong to a minority group or face oppression. They are often excluded in various aspects of their daily lives. Failure to do so results in exclusion and mismatch how inclusion shapes design.

UX specialists have the authority to shape and change the character and path of a project. This critical role allows them to influence design decisions in ways that benefit those who are typically overlooked or excluded.

Social inclusion focuses on designing for human diversity and equality. That’s why design inclusivity is particularly relevant in the current political climate. There is a heightened emphasis on addressing human rights and exclusion. The necessity for empathetic approaches is greater than ever.

Implementing inclusive design principles can assist companies to seem more socially responsible. They promote greater diversity and provide equal opportunities for customers and employees. Inclusivity is an essential aspect of a company’s corporate social responsibility efforts. It enhances the firm’s public image. Additionally, companies with a more diverse workforce tend to perform better financially.

Principles of the Accessible Design

Here we provide you with the list of the key principles of inclusive design examples. We explain in detail and examples how to use them in UX design.

#1 Equitable Application

The design should be accessible and appealing to people with a wide range of abilities and should not exclude anyone. Focus on users’ privacy, safety, and security when you create inclusive design products and environments.

To achieve inclusivity, designers can implement features such as high contrast in digital designs. This benefits users with color blindness.

#2 User Adaptability

Apart from audio, a video should provide closed-captioned subtitles for users who prefer to read instead of listening. This feature is vital for deaf users, but it also accommodates the choices of non-deaf users.

#3 Straightforward and Intuitive Performance

When users visit a streaming service’s website or app, they should be able to find the video they want quickly and easily. This could involve making the most popular titles available on the homepage or providing a large search button for users seeking more obscure content.

#4 Perceptible Information

In digital designs, textual information should be presented in a clear and concise manner. Place the most critical details at the top. Use bullet points or other formatting tools to further divide the information. We also advise to use images for points and illustrate the written information.

#5 Error Tolerance

Sometimes users mistakenly tap the “Buy” button on a mobile site. An overlay can appear to confirm the action and provide the option to remove the item.

#6 Little Physical Effort

Anchor pertinent navigation at the top of a webpage. This way, users can move to different parts of the website without scrolling to the top.

#7 Size and space for approach and use

For instance, designs must be tailored to the screen size of the device. Buttons must be large enough for users to click them. Not too small so users overlook them on a computer screen and not too large so they take up too much space on a mobile screen.

Benefits of the User-Centered Design

Adobe and Microsoft were the first companies to implement inclusive product design into their workflows for both clients and employees. They recognized the significance of incorporating customers’ needs, preferences, and constraints into the design process. Now they dedicate inclusive design roles responsible for driving transformation and product innovation.

So it’s time for some inspiration. Here you will find out how inclusive design can benefit your business and its users.

  • Tap into a large market: The World Health Organization reports that more than one billion people worldwide have disabilities. They represent an $8 trillion market that businesses shouldn’t overlook. You can change this statistic.
  • Improve your access to the larger market as well: A case study shows that in 2011, “This American Life” improved their website’s accessibility and SEO. They provided full transcripts for hundreds of episodes, benefiting people with hearing impairments. As a result, search traffic increased by 6.86% and unique visitors went up by 4.18% over the next three years.
  • Increase the motivation and involvement of your employees: Prioritizing inclusive design lab can lead to a sense of purpose for teams. This increases job satisfaction and productivity. Research by Imperative shows that people who find purpose in their job are more likely to stay with the company and promote it.
  • Promote new products: Inclusive design limitations often foster innovative ideas, such as the creation of the first typewriter by Pellegrino Turri for his blind friend, Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano, in the early 1800s. This invention led to the modern keyboard we use today.
  • Improve user experiences: Digital designs built for inclusion and accessibility enhance usability for everyone.It includes high-contrast settings, autocomplete prompts, and voice control, which led to the development of smart speakers.
  • Make a beneficial societal contribution (and make people notice it): Designers create tools that enable people to engage with the world. This interaction has a positive impact on mental and physical health. Social exclusion has negative consequences, according to WHO research. Logitech’s release of the Adaptive Gaming Kit in 2019 aimed to increase accessibility to gaming for people with disabilities. The response was positive and led to greater inclusivity and Logitech’s leadership in the industry.

Challenges of the Inclusive Design

#1 Failure to Identify Exclusion

UX designers often struggle to identify design bias that indirectly leads to exclusion. Particularly in situations where users face impairments or limitations. These issues can quickly escalate and restrict designers’ ability to create inclusive designs for a diverse audience. Create your own inclusion design lab to acknowledge temporary and situational disabilities. This enables designers to consider alternative scenarios and design for a wider range of user experiences.

#2 Lack of Diversity

To design UX elements that work in various environments, empathy is crucial. Lack of empathy leads to exclusion and frustration, as seen in issues with gender identity in information forms. Cultural and gender diversity should be considered to create a uniform and empathetic UX design. In 2023, gender diversity will be an essential factor in the inclusive and accessible UX design process.

#3 Limited Scope

To ensure accessible UX design, consider different disabilities and limitations. Use informative images with ALT text, provide suitable descriptions or captions for graphics, and avoid embedding text in images. Ensure enough contrast between text and color, using tools to achieve the correct ratio for higher visibility.

Designing for Diversity: Best Practices and Strategies

When designing products, it’s common to assume that if it works for us, it’ll work for everyone else. Yet, this is not true. Product professionals are not a representative sample of the target user population. They often have different abilities.

Creating products that are inclusive assists teams in understanding and sharing the feelings of their users. This eliminates partiality from the process of designing products.

Inclusive product design can also eradicate any obstacles during a user’s interaction with the product. This can result in a smaller number of users who drop using the product and a bigger number of users who adopt it. This can lead to more successful product outcomes over time.

Moreover, incorporating all users, particularly those who have been traditionally marginalized, benefits business:

  • enhances their devotion to the product,
  • enhances user retention,
  • and bolsters your brand’s reputation.

So let’s take a look at some of the best practices for inclusive design in product development!

How to Integrate Inclusive Design into your Product Development Process?

So, what are the precise steps one must take to design products that are inclusive? Let’s examine the essential stages.

#1 Do not Consider Accessibility a Secondary Priority

Teams often ignore inclusivity and accessibility until the product is complete. But this approach only checks the accessibility boxes and may not create a genuinely inclusive product.

Also, implementing adaptations at this stage may be expensive and complicated. Incorporating inclusivity from the start is more cost-effective and straightforward. It may be incorporated into customer research to address accessibility requirements alongside functionality needs.

#2 Incorporate Ongoing Discovery as a Component of the Process

Since user requirements are continually changing, the product discovery process is not a single event.

Business consistently seeks out new user concerns, requirements, and strategies to tackle them. We recommend to keep an eye out for chances to enhance the accessibility and inclusivity of your product.

#3 Inclusive Design = Less Assumptions, More Testing.

When developing a product, we typically hold certain beliefs about our users and how the product fulfills their requirements. While some of these beliefs may be correct, others could be entirely mistaken. The only way to verify their accuracy is by conducting tests with actual users.

  • Beta testing

During the building stage of a product, beta testing can be an effective method to assess its design. This involves releasing the product to a group of users and observing their actions to identify any accessibility problems. If users encounter difficulties or fail to complete certain tasks, this may show issues you need to address.

Based on the findings, designers make modifications to the sketch, and carry out further testing to evaluate whether changes result in improved conversion rates. The success of beta testing depends on selecting the appropriate testers. They should represent a diverse range of individuals that are part of the target audience.

  • Usability testing interviews

To enhance the inclusive design of your product, conduct user interviews after its launch to assess its usability. Like beta testing, it’s essential to involve a diverse group of users in the interviews. To ensure enough participation, you may need incentives such as vouchers or discount codes.

There are various techniques for usability testing, including the five-second test. In this technique, you show the product to users for five seconds, then interview them about their impressions. In addition to interviews, there are other methods like first-click testing, eye-tracking, and session replays.

  • Continuous user feedback collection

While your users are actively using your product, take advantage of in-app surveys to gather feedback on their user experience. These surveys are user-friendly to design and can be triggered to target specific user segments.

To enhance inclusivity and accessibility, it’s crucial to obtain qualitative feedback. You may achieve it through open-ended questions included in the surveys. Don’t forget to incorporate this element into your survey to ensure valuable feedback from users.

#4 Consider Cultural Barriers and Use Localization

Product localization creates an inclusive product experience for users with different language and cultural backgrounds. It goes beyond just translating UI copy or content. It may involve adapting the UI for various scripts and cultural differences to make it feel like it was originally designed for them.

In product localization, you shall consider all touchpoints in the user journey where they interact with the product. These touchpoints include:

1. Display ads, social media posts, and search keywords.

2. Landing and product pages.

3. Sign-up process, onboarding steps.

4. Main UI, modals, and account management.

5. Onboarding emails, use case emails, missed steps emails, newsletters.

6. Help section or customer support.

7. Upsell and demo emails.

8. Webinars, tutorials, demos, walkthroughs.

9. Pricing page, checkout page, confirmation emails.

10. Engagement emails, win-back emails, feedback emails.

11. Renewal emails, notification emails.

#5 Build a Diverse Team

To create an inclusive and accessible product, involve individuals with diverse perspectives.

  • Diverse product teams

Build a product team with members from different cultures and backgrounds. This can provide unique perspectives and help to identify issues and opportunities to create an exceptional product.

  • Foster collaboration

To create durable product experiences, it is not enough to depend entirely on the product team’s skills. Thus, it is important to ensure that the product team collaborates closely with other teams: UI and UX designers, marketing colleagues, and customer-facing staff.

These individuals can provide distinctive viewpoints and understandings regarding user issues. They know how to improve the inclusivity and accessibility of your product.

Inclusive Product Design in the Tech Industry


Twitter is a great example of digital design that prioritizes inclusivity for several reasons.

  • It permits users to customize their content by providing filtering options.
  • It offers the ability to follow tweets and trends in their preferred language.

This enhances inclusivity and simplifies the process for users to discover content published in unfamiliar languages.

Twitter also presents users with an extensive selection of accessibility features. These consist of the adaptable VoiceOver function, which audibly reads out tweets. Furthermore, users can elevate color contrast to enhance text visibility and deactivate in-app animations.


Asana is a widely recognized project management software and places significant emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility. Recently, the Asana team made the decision to modify its color palettes to enhance the product’s accessibility. This is one of the straightforward examples of inclusive design that users with visual impairments undoubtedly value.

Microsoft Adaptive Accessories

Microsoft recently unveiled a fresh collection of peripherals, including mice and keyboards. They provide individuals with physical impairments greater accessibility to technology. Alongside facilitating computer use for a wider audience, the new Microsoft adaptive accessories feature support for 3D printed add-ons.

Microsoft inclusive design allows consumers to personalize each component according to their specific requirements, crafting their perfect setup.


Diversity represents our greatest asset, while inclusion constitutes our greatest hurdle. To overcome this obstacle, we must take into account the numerous complex adaptive systems nested within our world. A crucial component of this endeavor depends on us recognizing the unique potential present in every individual and the remarkable possibilities that arise when we incorporate and unify our diverse differences.

Want to find out more about inclusive design?
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What is the importance of inclusive design?

Inclusive design ensures that products, services, and environments are accessible and usable by as many people as possible, regardless of their age, ability, gender, ethnicity, or any other characteristic. It considers the diverse needs and perspectives of all individuals; promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion; and enables everyone to fully participate in society. Additionally, inclusive designs can lead to better products and services for all users. It encourages designers to consider a wider range of user needs and preferences.

Why is good design important for a product?

It allows products to be accessible and usable by the widest possible range of users, including those with disabilities, different ages, genders, cultures, and backgrounds. Applying inclusion design can lead to

  • increased customer satisfaction,
  • improved user experience,
  • and increased market potential for the product.

In addition, designing products with inclusivity in mind can also help companies comply with accessibility laws and regulations, and demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

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