Posted by Dhara on September 25, 2020
We live in a world that has gone through an intense transformation in the year 2020. The global pandemic, civil unrest, and radical injustices have lead us to a tipping point—the last part of the year will surely be just as interesting.
While the intensity of the world’s problems is a large cross to bear, I believe that because of them, we have become more empathetic and informed as a whole this year. The work towards unlearning systemic racism and educating ourselves about anti-black racism must be translated into all aspects of what we do. As storytellers and marketers, we have a duty to our client partners and society to keep equity in design and communication top of mind.
Embracing equity in design will help us to reform society and make a positive impact. Let’s take a pause here and really understand what we mean when we say “equity”. This is more than just fancy buzzword.
“The act of owning and taking responsibility of and correcting based on a historical narrative.”(Source).
To design with equity in mind, a designer needs to take the time to acknowledge, learn, and deeply understand the different user experiences for varied audiences. No two people are the same, so one solution is likely not applicable to everyone. Instead, understand needs, behaviours, and motivation to design solutions that solve problems and limit barriers for the end-user. The first step to bring equity to design is to acknowledge the problem and understand the differences:
By removing bias from the process
When creating personas, stay away from typical assumptions, and stereotypical information about the target audience. Challenge yourself when you associate only a younger audience and familiarity with technology or gender as the decision-maker. Use data to inform decision making without relying exclusively on it.
By bringing more research in design
Systematically explore different individuals, demographics, and cultures to gain true insight into behaviour. Learning and understanding different perspectives will not only make you a more effective communicator, making space for more effective and inclusive solutions.
By making icons and labels inclusive
Emojis and labels on products can be received differently across the world based on their history, cultures and languages. A prominent example is the emojis with different skin tones and family compositions to make all users feel included and recognized. Though these elements might be minor in the overall scheme of things, they should be carefully crafted to ensure inclusiveness.
By making data collection inclusive
We come across tons of digital products and interfaces that prompt us to identify ourselves using pre-defined categories provided by the system. It is part of designers’ responsibility to create mechanisms and design solutions that enable less rigid, more flexible, and inclusive options.
As designers, we have the power and capabilities to go beyond the norms and make sure we continually strive to design better solutions. It is a journey where we constantly have to learn how to empathize with various differences, embrace them, and weave them into the design seamlessly. At BTI, this is just the start of our commitment to equity.
We want to know—do you put equity first when it comes to design? Let us know below!