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Design is something bigger than a beautiful or even functional thing. It’s a kind of decision to participate in the world change or not.

Our society is like a multifaceted gem. Every edge is unique but still a part of one whole.

In some meaning, we all are designers, no matter the industry. We are designers of our decisions, lives, and our world. We choose to make a change through our actions, including the work that we do or not. As you read this, I’m inviting everyone to consider the design as the way to bring change into the world and raise consciousness. I’m inviting you to think of yourself as the creator that delivers on purpose, start getting curious about how you create, and what types of people you bring into your process.

What is DEI? The 3-voice anthem of modern society

DEI is the abbreviation of diversity, equity and inclusion — three values that altogether constitute the anthem of modern society. Diversity means involving people from a range of different ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds, different genders, and sexual orientations. Equity means that everyone matters and should have equal access to opportunities. Inclusion means everyone is invited to the party and the needs of everyone are covered. So, be sure you create a really inclusive UX design, the design that considers everyone.

Design on purpose. Raising consciousness

Designing with DEI in mind means that the process involves diverse individuals from both sides of the table — the production team and the target user audience. It includes a deeper look at what people you hire for your design team, how you conduct user persona research, and how you create the product/design that addresses the needs of different people, including misrepresented minorities.

This approach allows you to take a more complex approach to product creation. On the one hand, you can incorporate the principle of DEI into your corporate process and bring together a diverse team with diverse views and backgrounds that will help build a more inclusive design and product. On the other hand, as the design individual or the design team, you can participate in raising consciousness by creating designs that speak out about DEI and motivate others to get involved.

5 questions to ask yourself to design with DEI in mind

1. Is your team really diverse? It impacts design decisions

This is important because it directly affects your design decisions and the project outcome. The more diverse individuals you hire, the more touchpoints and perspectives you embrace during the design process. We often hear the phrase “step into user’s (customer’s) shoes,” meaning a try to understand the target user’s needs and create a product that covers them. However, the “stepping into someone’s shoes” might be the delusion, IMHO.

For sure, we should try to understand the people we’re creating things for. But, it’s not equal to being a representative of those who you’re designing for. To design with diversity in mind, try hiring people with different social backgrounds to let them guide you and assist you in approaching the target user with a similar background. Although it might seem difficult to implement, at first sight, a try is definitely worth it. This approach allows you, as the team, to acquire a broader vision, the more inclusive one.

2. What is the product mission?

The product mission is fundamental. Be sure you’re well-informed about it. Ask the client to explain it in detail and get you involved in what kind of change their product is going to bring. It will help you understand the sentiment of the brand you’re designing for and create something that will resonate with its audience. The mission refers not only to the problem that the product solves but also to the bigger social idea that stands behind it. This is why it’s a pleasure to work with the clients the deliver on their missions too… Then, you feel like the co-creators, not the co-manufacturers of items that target the dominating culture.

The mission, the goal, the aim — it’s what many products, as well as our society if speaking generally, often miss. This is why people may feel life as something purposeless. Life without any mission (or a little goal, at least) is the time lost in space. The mission is what differentiates the product from competitors. So, make sure you understand the product mission well to create a design that supports it, communicates it and sounds with the fully same vibe.

3. What is the worst-case scenario?

We can’t foresee the future, but we can ask ourselves this question to expand our thinking. It is a great way to think of those whom you might unintentionally exclude. It is a great way to design, including the needs of those whom the competitors might exclude too. It can become your advantage. It is a way to grow a target audience and make the product more popular by covering the needs of a broader swath of society.

Consider the product intent and the product’s actual impact on people’s lives. Keep in mind that it’s not the same thing. The perfection is achieved if the product intent coincides with the product’s actual impact. It becomes a reality when you predict all the worst-case scenarios and find the solution to smooth them out or eliminate them at all. Leave no space for a bad user experience. I mean for a bad experience of diverse users.

4. Who might you be excluding?

We used to create things for the situations we experience in our daily lives and design for people who share nearly the same. But we might be excluding those who are different. That’s why it’s essential to emphasize the importance of inclusiveness. When you’re designing the product, you research a target audience first, right? However, we shouldn’t forget about misrepresented social groups and their needs. Does it mean that the product designed initially for women, for example, should also include men as a target audience? No, of course! The product designed for a specific need should address all people within its target audience. However, we have to make sure the needs of everyone within this particular target group are met.

5. Are you being informed by the Source?

When designing for diversity and inclusion, it’s important to involve the representatives of the misrepresented social groups in a design process. Before reaching out to them, think of the WHYs you’re connecting to them. Try to set an honest and open conversation to build trust with these people. Communicate with them in a way that acknowledges that you think of them and want to learn how to create things they can benefit from. The sources can give you plenty of invaluable insights about their lifestyle, habits, interests and challenges that will help you see a bigger picture on your following projects too.

People are people. We all want to interact and we want to be included. Your try to design interactions for more people can be a great contribution to a really empathic human-centered design and a better future for everyone.

The article was first published on Muzli