Inclusive Design: Principles and Practices

Page Flows Team

May 15, 2024 | 8:00 am
Design better user flows by learning from proven products

When thinking about what makes an effective digital product, accessible designs are usually the first thing that springs to mind. However, inclusive design goes far beyond that. 

Inclusive designs address human diversity in such a way that promotes a sense of belonging for all users. 

A UI/UX designer that utilizes empathetic, adaptive user interfaces will satisfy the various needs of a range of users. 

With that being said, we will examine inclusive design, its meaning, and its principles. We shall also address the common misconceptions about inclusive design concerning accessible and universal design.

UX designer reviewing mobile site design sketches.

What Is Inclusive Design?

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, we shall now explore what inclusive design is. 

Inclusive design is the design of a product that is usable to as many individuals as possible, regardless of background. 

Inclusive design aims to remove boundaries such as physical, psychological, and social barriers. 

In particular, inclusive design targets excluded users who, for whatever reason, are unable to navigate through a digital product. 

Essentially, inclusive design benefits every user type.

Why Is Inclusive Product Design Important?

Inclusive product design develops the idea of accessibility, making websites and digital products inviting for all user types. 

Every individual, regardless of background, deserves to access and enjoy the digital products that make life more manageable. Digital technology can transform day-to-day tasks and, therefore, should enhance the quality of everybody’s lives/communities. 

For instance, the social model of disability says that disabled individuals encounter barriers within society rather than their condition. 

By making your products more inclusive, you are actively doing your part to break down these barriers. 

From a business perspective, inclusive design is great for boosting your brand, increasing your sales, and expanding your customer base. Customers gravitate towards businesses that guarantee ethical practices. So, granting equal opportunities for all users will only attract success.

What Is the Difference Between Inclusive Design and Accessible Design?

It isn’t unusual for misconceptions to arise surrounding inclusive design and accessible design. However, there is a slight distinction that makes the two types of design rather different. 

Accessible design aims to satisfy the needs of users with disabilities. These disabilities may be cognitive, physical, visual, or auditory in nature. 

Inclusive design, however, covers the diversity of the entire human population. 

For instance, a designer who works on accessible user interfaces will have visually impaired users in mind. However, a designer who has inclusive design in mind will consider users with color blindness or contact lenses.

What Is the Difference Between Inclusive Design and Universal Design?

Like accessible design, inclusive design is also mistaken for universal design. Universal design focuses on creating a singular, accessible experience that as many individuals can use as possible. 

The difference between universal and inclusive design is that universal design implements a single design solution. This solution isn’t adaptive and isn’t specially designed for a target demographic. Thus, it is inevitable that some users will encounter exclusion. 

Inclusive design includes multiple variations of design solutions to ensure it achieves its desired outcomes. 

Digital products often reflect inclusive design due to their affordability and flexibility. In contrast, tangible products like newspapers frequently apply universal design processes.

Inclusive Design: Principles

So, you know the meaning and importance of inclusive design. In order to incorporate inclusive design into your products, you must familiarize yourself with its principles

Here are the key principles of inclusive design.

1. Equitable Use

You must ensure your product design is useful to a diverse range of people. 

Simply put, no prospective user should face exclusion, and everyone should have access to a product. 

Try to make every user experience as identical as possible. You can do this by removing personal biases and avoiding stigmatization. 

No user should experience the risk of having their privacy, safety, and security compromised. For instance, for those who are hearing impaired, you should avoid loud, explosive sounds/animations.

2. Flexibility in Use

This principle refers to designs that include choices that cater to the preferences and abilities of a range of users. 

Your product should easily adapt to the user’s pace, allowing them to complete tasks however they deem appropriate. 

For instance, transcripts and captions should be available to those who prefer reading content rather than listening to it.

3. Simple and Intuitive Use

Good UX designs don’t have to be overly complicated to be effective. A good UX design shouldn’t require a substantial learning curve. 

Consistently revisit the user’s expectations and needs so that you’re aware of your goals at every stage of your design. 

Always provide opportunities for feedback during each task at every stage to ensure your product’s intuitive qualities.

4. Perceptible Information

Words, images, and videos should help arrange and display important content. Using different modes of presentation helps users find and prioritize the relevant information. 

Make your instructions clear, concise, and easy to follow. You should also ensure your designs are compatible with a range of devices that users with physical limitations might use.

5. Tolerance for Error

You must ensure any error is reversible. 

Although you may arrange your product’s content in a way that minimizes errors, they could still arise for your users. 

Implement warnings and safeguards that allow users to undo errors. This is especially important when the user has the option to purchase something when using your product/service.

6. Low Physical Effort

Your product shouldn’t require the user’s physical exertion. 

Minimize the amount of interactions that require your user to move from a neutral body position. 

You can do this by minimizing the demand for the user to move their cursor or scroll through a page.

7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

You should arrange your product’s content in such a way that it is immediately visible to your user (where possible). 

Your content should also be appropriately sized and spaced out to allow users to manipulate/navigate through them with ease. 

Consider the range of devices that a user will utilize when interacting with the layout of your product/service.

Microsoft Inclusive Design

We chose to highlight Microsoft Inclusive Design for its excellent practices and principles. 

Microsoft Inclusive Design recognizes exclusion and learns from diversity in order to create products that benefit everybody. 

Here are some of Microsoft’s inclusive design tools to help you create products for every user type!

Inclusive Design: Examples

In order to incorporate inclusive designs in your product, you must see effective inclusive design in practice. 

We have explored sites that serve as wonderful examples of inclusive design! 

1. This American Life

This American Life is a public radio and podcast program. This American Life has transcribed its entire audio archive for both hearing-impaired users and users who prefer reading content. Additionally, they have also provided free transcripts to any and all visitors to their site!

2. Userway

Userway is a digital accessibility company that helps companies relieve themselves of legal pressure. 

Userway’s adjustable accessibility widget offers a user-friendly transformation for their site’s features. From text magnification to specialized dyslexia fonts to color desaturation, Userway is a leading authority on inclusive design strategies!

Inclusive Design: Making Your Product Enjoyable for Everyone

Every product a designer produces, whether physical or digital, should allow every individual, regardless of background, to access it.

The key takeaway from this guide is that inclusive design benefits more than the success of a business or brand. Inclusive design benefits society, diminishing exclusive barriers and promoting a sense of unity for all. 

So, if you’re looking for inspiration concerning effective inclusive designs, look no further than Page Flows. 

Page Flows is an incredibly useful resource for interaction design inspiration that exhibits faultless design inclusivity.

From Monzo to music, Page Flows excels at creating engaging, intuitive, inclusive designs that everyone can use and enjoy. 

Page Flows has garnered over 1,000 happy customers from esteemed brands via our unparalleled user flow design decisions. We pride ourselves on our ability to not only satisfy the users’ needs but also accommodate every user type.

Get started today to access our growing library of user flow recordings and finally stay up-to-date with current design trends.


  • Page Flows Team

    The Page Flows Team is a collective of passionate UX design professionals dedicated to delivering insightful content on user experience and design principles. With diverse backgrounds and expertise, our contributing writers bring you the latest trends, tips, and research in the UX field. Each article is crafted with a focus on empathy, innovation, and a commitment to enhancing user interactions. Outside of writing, our team members draw inspiration from various pursuits such as outdoor activities, art, and continuous learning, fueling their creativity and drive to push the boundaries of UX design. The Page Flows Team is committed to providing valuable resources and engaging content to help you stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of user experience.

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