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Designing for difference: Are you failing at the most important design challenge


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There is no such thing as a “typical user.” People may have similar goals or jobs to get done, but they bring differences in preferences, knowledge, language, interaction style, and perspectives. Broadening our vision to design for differences is a conscious act of innovation. It starts with embracing the tools of accessibility, plain language, and language access for modern, responsive design. And broadening our research and testing to include the full diversity of our audiences. If you aren’t designing for difference, ask yourself who are you leaving out.
At the Center for Civic Design, we’ve learned that designing democracy requires changing our practice and how we approach our work. As one project partner put it, “If all we do is make it a little easier for people who already vote, we have failed.” From voter guides to ballots, the goal of our work is to expand civic engagement and participation - including everyone, with all their differences
This presentation was created for World IA Day, 2019

Published in: Design
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Designing for difference: Are you failing at the most important design challenge

  1. 1. 1 Are you failing at the most important design challenge? Whitney Quesenbery Center for Civic Design @civicdesign | @whitneyq NYC WIAD 2019: Designing for difference
  2. 2. We create the future Disability can produce a radical new direction in mainstream design Graham Pullen Design Meets Disability
  3. 3. Three challenges for our practices Who are we leaving out of our work? How can we create delight? How might we change our practice?
  4. 4. 4 In your own work… Who is included? Who is left out?
  5. 5. What dimensions of difference do we pay attention to? Personal expression of gender, race, ethnicity Interaction and communication needs Technology use Language Literacy Equity
  6. 6. People first: designing for differences
  7. 7. 7 Carol JacobLea Emily Steven Maria Trevor Vishnu What makes these people different? Or the same?
  8. 8. 8 It takes getting out of your own space Photos: ITIF AVTI/CATEA, CCD
  9. 9. 9 Don’t sweat the demographics (but do pay the mix)
  10. 10. Universal usability: creates delight
  11. 11. 11 Designing for delight begins with a balance of small pleasures and consideration. Dana Chisnell in
  12. 12. 12 What we expect Low expectations High expectations Whatweget BadexperienceGoodexperience Low expectations Bad experience Expectations met High expectations Bad experience Uh-Oh High expectations Good experience Expectations met Low expectations Good experience Pleasant surprise Delight occurs in the intersection of expectations and experience
  13. 13. 13 What signs suggest that you are about to have a good experience? Or at least Not. A. Bad. One.
  14. 14. Accommodation  Accessibility  Universal design
  15. 15. How might we think differently about designing for difference?
  16. 16. 16 Principles for Accessible UX 1. People first: designing for differences 2. Clear purpose: well designed goals 3. Solid structure: built to standards 4. Easy interaction: everything works 5. Helpful wayfinding: guides users 6. Clean presentation: supports meaning 7. Plain language: creates conversation 8. Accessible media: supports all senses 9. Universal usability: creates delight
  17. 17. We dream of creating something beautiful…
  18. 18. But end up with an experience that isn’t delightful for anyone
  19. 19. We can think differently about interaction
  20. 20. 20 We can learn how to be helpful Helpful wayfinding: guides users
  21. 21. 21 We make even the most utilitarian function delightful
  22. 22. 22 We can design information to be clear and meaningful
  23. 23. 43% of adults in the US read at basic or below basic levels U.S. National Assessment of Adult Literacy 14% 29% 44% 13% 30 Million 63 Million 95 Million 28 Million
  24. 24. We are what we practice Let’s change what we bring to our work, by changing our practice
  25. 25. “What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others? It’s the gift of anticipation.” Mrs. Wilson in Gosford Park
  26. 26. “Judge me by my size, do you?” Michael Hayes, Buddha Body Yoga
  27. 27. “They were the star of the show—these wooden boots peeking out from under this raffia dress—but in fact, they were actually legs made for me.” Photo: Aimee Mullins: My 12 pairs of legs:
  28. 28. Photo:
  29. 29. How might we change our practice? Admit it Practice it Embrace it
  30. 30. Thank you Whitney Quesenbery @whitneyq @civicdesign