Our UX in 2018 series has featured trends in design, accessibility, and content. As January comes to a close, we begin to explore perhaps the most important topic for UX in 2018: diversity and inclusion in UX.
The past year has been one of reckoning on many fronts. Uber’s culture crisis. The sentiment analysis mistakes in Google’s AI. Facebook’s algorithm allowing anti-Semitic categories. These are just a few of far too many failures we’ve seen in the past year.
Today, we start a year of highlighting these conversations at UX Booth. They will not always be easy conversations to have, but we all must make 2018 a year that is better for everyone in our industry. We want to share the many voices of UX and rise together in building a stronger culture of diversity and inclusivity. How can we be better advocates for those we work with and those we design for? I hope to hear from many of you so that we can share your experiences and ideas.
Let’s make things that matter
We’ve found the natural limitation of systems that are designed for design’s sake. Consider companies like Uber, who nail on-screen interactions but miss the mark on equity for drivers, access for all people, and working within both the spirit and the letter of the law. This is the ultimate risk of UX focusing too much on just one aspect of the experience: it cheapens our research and design work – and has broader impacts.
This year, we need every designer to first focus on ethics, diversity, and inclusion – before aesthetics and before screens. Ask hard questions! Think about how your designs will affect people – research how your designs could be used, who will use them, and why. Make your personas true and diverse, reflecting how people move and live in this world. The reality is that the world isn’t binary nor simple, so designers must do their part by making something that puts people who are least like you first.
That focus on people is something I see as the hallmark of good design and work we can be proud of. 2018 is a year that will benefit from our care and respect in what we do. Let’s make things that matter.
Looking out for each other and ourselves
As we emerge from the Year of the Reckoning, the year when #metoo came to prominence, it’s important that we look out for each other and ourselves by demanding the conferences we attend have strong and enforced Codes of Conduct, and that our workplaces actively enforce their anti-harassment policies—and not just when a report occurs.
Inclusivity matters. Making any one person feel anything less than entirely welcome and accepted means your culture excludes. Microaggressions alone drive people away from working in technology. Policies and Codes of Conduct must be not only codified but part of the experience, part of the culture.
Make sure that not only women but everyone involved in your event or place of business are safe and included appropriately. This is not just the responsibility of those running the show—every attendee and every employee counts. One great method I’ve seen is simply saying “we don’t do that here,” which is most effective in arenas that have a policy in place.
Personally, since Christina Wodtke’s article Tweaking the Moral UI in 2014, I’ve made a commitment not to speak or attend conferences that don’t have or enforce a Code of Conduct, which is a solid personal commitment to make if you haven’t already.
In 2018, look for ways to be more inclusive and make your communities safer for everyone in every way possible, from interface to company culture.