Inclusive design

26 Aug 2019

Is a world where inclusive design is the norm an achievable ambition, not just a niche pursuit for the evangelical few?

Probably not, especially when design, consumer engagement and appealing to the 80% is driven by market share, bottom lines and scalability. Cynical, perhaps? Reality, yes but hopefully it is changing.

For years, too many for us to remember, we at RiDC have been at the fore front of espousing considered, thoughtful design that thinks about all consumers and service users at the start. Not, as is often the case, when there is a problem or barrier to a service or product that emerges once it has been launched. It is often a false economy.

What are the benefits?

One in five adults has difficulty doing everyday tasks. Meanwhile, the population of the UK is ageing. By 2035, nearly 1 in 4 will be aged over 65 years.

Research consistently shows that inclusive products and services can reach a wider market, improve customer satisfaction, reduce customer returns, complaints and queries and strengthen brand reputation.It can also mean that fewer disabled or older consumers will need separate special services or assistive products.

Some of our favourite examples are

  • dropped kerbs
  • low floor kneeling buses
  • wheeled suitcases
  • products with voice control like Alexa
  • automatic features on cars, such as gears, windows and adjustable seats

RiDC's recent inclusive design reports

Smart Appliances and the Internet of Things (2018)

download report (pdf)

Manufacturers, Retailers and Designers' Views (2016)

download report (pdf)

Tech - What's new? Pilot Home Trial of Connected Products (2017)

download report (pdf)

Inclusive Design Resources

download report (pdf)

RiDC's past inclusive design work

Smart metering energy displays

  • Commissioned by Consumer Focus, British Gas and E.ON to usability test 20 displays
  • Usability and accessibility trials and focus groups with 36 people
  • The result: usability good practice design guidance

Grocery Packaging

Digital TV

  • Commissioned by the Government to to support the UK's Digital Switchover, 2005-2012 by testing the ease of use of over 500 digital TV products
  • Joint usability product testing with Intertek MK of digital TVs, digital recorders, set top boxes and universal remotes
  • Usability testing of on-screen switchover messaging

Mobile phone features

  • Commissioned by the Communications Consumer Panel that advises Ofcom
  • User trials and focus groups with 64 people
  • Identified simple improvements to handsets that would benefit all users

Kitchens and Domestic appliances

  • Choosing domestic appliances that are aesy to use  -  series of 7 guides, jointly published with Which? and Department of Health, 1997
  • Making you kitchen easier to use, published by B&Q, 1999
  • Making domestic appliances easy to use, series of 5 guides, published by Comet, 2000