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Inclusive Design: All For One And One For All

by Patrick Lillard
3 min read
Illustration of four coworkers gathered around a conference table representing inclusivity and diversity.

The more, the merrier! It’s a phrase we’ve all heard since childhood. When it comes to marketing – and life in general – that golden rule still applies. Inclusivity in marketing and design is not only crucial to your business; it also helps to make the world a better, friendlier place as well. It is a more accurate depiction of the world and all of its people and possibilities. In recent years, we’ve seen more representation of different cultures and abilities, and your campaign should also reflect that shift.

What is Inclusive Design?

Inclusive design is a design process that seeks to create products and experiences for people of all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy. It can address an entire spectrum of demographics, including accessibility, age, economic environment, and so much more. This type of thoughtfulness in design can be visually inclusive or incorporate inclusivity in the actual experience itself, such as including multiple boxes when a user must select race when filling out a job application. In the past, an applicant would have to choose one of three or four boxes. Inclusive design gives users a more extensive range of options and the ability to select more than just one.

Why is it important?

When more groups are included, everybody wins. Accessibility, for example, touches all of our lives in different ways. What is meant to help one group of people can be a benefit to all. Some of us may need closed captioning due to hearing loss; others need it because our potato chips are too crunchy, and we can’t hear our show. “By attending to the needs of the most marginalized customers, we create a product experience that satisfies the most market demand.

Before the concept of inclusive design, many people simply weren’t represented. Depictions of society did not paint the world as it existed. In this day and age, we’re moving away from only acknowledging one way of life towards embracing experiences that may differ from our own. As such, inclusive design is important, not only during the rollout of the campaign but also during the hiring process. Many companies have realized that not having input from other cultures and walks of life often leads to them missing the mark in regard to product, design, and messaging. When companies embrace their employees’ diverse thought processes and life experiences, it opens the door for more creativity and a more comprehensive range of expertise.

Inclusive Design in Marketing

Specifically, in marketing, inclusive design means incorporating diverse imagery. In the past, cis-gendered white males were pretty much all you saw in ad spaces. In recent years, illustrations were made more generic: think blue people with yellow hair. While it was a step in the right direction, all it created was different colored figures that still had predominantly Eurocentric features. As contemporary marketers, we strive to move away from such exclusive messaging into a more inclusive space. Now, the mission in imagery is to include a wider variety of skin tones, styles of dress, and abilities. A 2019 survey by Adobe found that “Most Americans (61%) find diversity in advertising important. In fact, 38% of consumers said they are more likely to trust brands that show more diversity in their ads.” Your audience enjoys feeling seen rather than feeling like a means to an end.

What’s the Future of Inclusive Design?

Hopefully, inclusive design will continue to move forward. Don’t think of it as a trend: it’s progress. At Workhorse, we believe that as time marches on, the world will only become more accepting. Inclusive design bears so much more responsibility than just creating buzz around an ad campaign. It helps open up conversations and educate people as to why representation matters. Remember, it’s always better to include than exclude. Mindful marketing is just one step we can all take toward making the world a better place.

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