Design ’18 Spotlight #2: Spotlight on inclusive design

we’re counting down to Design ’18, our upcoming conference on April 11 and 12 on all things digital product and service design with an overview of the current trends in design and how we’re covering them at the conference. In this second spotlight we’re focussing on inclusive design.

John Maeda’s ‘Design in Tech‘ report has become on of the industry’s most read and influential annual publications. In last year’s report, Maeda’s key observation was

Adopting an inclusive design approach expands a tech product’s total addressable market.
Inclusion is good business. And new proof points are emerging. More will start to emerge as inclusive design takes hold.

This year’s report has an entire section dedicated to the issue and practice and

  • Changing perception around the idea of “helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves” into “learning how ignorant we are as privileged people” is a useful daily exercise.
  • Using that energy to design and make better products is a certain kind of passion and practice that we’ll see more often in technology companies. Because inclusive design is becoming commonsense.
  • Choose action over wondering about what you can do about the world you see and don’t agree with. It’s easy today due to all the technologies we have available to us.

Our focus on inclusion at Design ’18 begins with the opening keynote Sara Wachter Boettcher (who’s new book ‘Technically Wrong‘ Maeda cites as a key work in their emerging conversation) simply called ‘Designing Inclusive Products‘.

In this talk, we’ll take a hard look at how our industry’s culture—its lack of diversity, its “fail fast” ethos, its obsession with engagement, and its chronic underinvestment in understanding the humans it’s designing for—creates products that perpetuate bias, manipulate and harm users, undermine democracy, and ultimately wreak havoc. Then, we’ll talk about what we can do about it: how we can uncover assumptions in our work, vet product decisions against a broader range of people and situations, have difficult conversations with our teams and companies, and pursue a more ethical and inclusive way forward for our industry.

We mentioned Hilary Cinis from Data61 and her presentation ‘Crafting Ethical AI Products and Services–a UX Guide‘ on the context of AI at Design ’18, but this is equally relevant in the context of inclusion.

This talk is aimed at designers and product managers and proposes an ethical framework in discovery and solutions. We look at where UX can fit in via the application of existing methods, the relationships between people including how to anticipate the power relationships and finally proposed approaches to solution design to foster trust, control and reduce the mystery of machine learning systems. A robust list of references further reading will also be provided.

The third of many presentation we could highlight in this area at Design ’18 is one I’m really looking forward to, from Sara VanSlyke & Trace Byrd at Atlassian, illustrators who’ve thought deeply about representations of people in icons, and other graphics, and how these can be made more inclusive and representative. I loved their Medium post so much I track them down and it turns out they were going to be in Australia the week of Design ’18 and they’ll be coming to present on this for us!

There’s much more besides this, on design systems and AI, design organisation to research, context strategy and emerging ideas. If you work in digital Design in Australia, it’s one to not miss!

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