Better for All: Diversity in Design
Bringing diversity into your design goes beyond diverse imagery. To connect with a wide range of end users, it's essential to think about how your design can be more inclusive and accessible at all points of the process.
In this installment of our Better for All series we're looking at how designers can improve representation and make diversity the standard. Design is a powerful tool that can improve creativity, create inclusivity and improve accessibility. Here are some considerations to help you craft more diverse designs.
Society has been conditioned to believe that homogeneity and non-diversity is the default. However, no two humans are the same, making diversity the common reality that unites us.
While designing, start with empathy and think sensitively about your audiences. Ask yourself who has been underrepresented. Ask yourself if there's any bias in current design trends. Ask yourself if there is an opportunity to redefine stereotypes. Then, challenge the status-quo.
Some changes to improve representation are not making light beige skin tones the default for characters/avatars and avoid using blue and pink to represent men and women, respectively. Or take that a step further and create a non-binary character whose gender identity can't be categorized as exclusively male or female.
Better Accessibility in Design
Throughout the design process, it's important to think about how to make your work accessible to everyone. Fortunately, we live in a time with no shortage of technology that improves accessibility. Consider how your design works with screen readers, braille display, text-to-speech technology, screen magnifier, zoom in features, high contrast browsers or themes.
Some tools worth exploring:
Readability in design is especially important when you look at the numbers. 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are color blind. 1 in 30 people have low vision. 1 in 188 people are blind. Color is one area that can greatly impair or improve readability. Try and use color to highlight or complement and ensure sufficient contrast between text and background.
Better Cultural References
While diverse representation is the goal, make sure to avoid stereotypical depictions of minority groups. Do your research and engage with the community you're looking to represent. They can help you be mindful of the history behind certain design patterns, symbols or cultural differences that are not easily recognizable to those outside of the culture.
Start your research here with this article from The Next Web, called How to avoid stereotypes when designing for global markets.
Even color isn't universal in its cultural interpretations. For example, red has positive connotations in China, as opposed to negative connotations in Western culture. Not to say that you should avoid certain colors, but when designing for a global audience, you'll want to consider the different cultural context around colors.
Design plays a big part in how we perceive our world and interact with it. Considering diversity in your design is an important step towards building a world where we all feel welcome.
We hope you find our Better for All series helpful in shaping a more diverse and inclusive space. Stay tuned for more blog posts in our series on diverse design and improving accessibility to create an experience that's better for all.
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