Inclusive Design – a user-centred approach

This video is covers the second European Business Conference on Inclusive Design in Oslo May 2010, organised by the Norwegian Design Council’sInnovation For All‘ Program.

So what is inclusive design?

“Putting people at the heart of the design process. It’s understanding people’s needs, it’s designing to take account of the widest possible variety of people.”

– Fionnuala Rogerson (Director of the International Union of Architects)

“It’s not about developing niche products, it’s just developing really good products, but using customers that need the most help.”

– Liz Williams (Director of BT Group PLC)

How does Inclusive Design relate to the discipline of design itself?

“I think as designers, we’re problem solvers by our very training. Architects and designers, that’s what we’re trained to do, and where we fall down possible is through not understanding what the problems are. So if we know what the problem is, we’re very good at actually finding solutions.”

– Fionnuala Rogerson (Director of the International Union of Architects)

The speakers in this video make an interesting point: why are we talking about ‘inclusive design’, or ‘user-centred design’? Surely all practical design should be inclusive of different users.
Due to the lack of inclusivity by designers recently, these terms have been created in order to remind people of this fundamental approach. Some of the speakers in the video predict that these terms will not be used for very long. That once we begin to design inclusively again, ‘inclusive design’ will really just be ‘design’ – as it should be. This Inclusive design approach seems very similar to user-centred design, but it really helps designers to remember that they need to design for a variety of users.
A common misconception is that inclusive design means designing for niche groups, such as people with arthritis, or in wheelchairs. However, what it really means is that we should take these groups into account when designing products, systems, or environments intended for mainstream audiences – as these users are part of the large and varying user group.
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