Why You Should Learn This Design Principle

Thanks to the cult following from Apple and other companies offering attractive products or presentation, it has become fashionable to talk about applying “design principles” in other areas. But, according to designer Ree Norregaard , a key design lesson we all need to learn is one that many designers still learn for themselves: designing for more than the “standard” user.

Norregaard’s podcast Design for Humanity ( texts available here ) explores inclusivity as a fundamental part of design. She recently wrote that human-centered design means asking, “How can we solve [a given] problem for a variety of different people at the same time?”

This means considering people of different gender, ethnicity, abilities and people in different time circumstances. And as designers learn to ask and answer this question, many other professions can learn from them: developers, entrepreneurs, creatives – anyone whose work will be used by more than one predefined, well-defined set of people.

Academician and writer Sinead Burke for many years advocated for inclusive design, but as a guest of the show , she admits that it is not thought of it as a design problem as it did not apply to performances at the TED . At 3’5, she said, “most of the world was not created for her.” As a society, we said that making something accessible undermines its aesthetics because we see accessibility as ugly, “she says. She lives with the consequences of this daily. According to her, the most functional chairs are not created with dignified by adults. So when she uses a pink and blue chair at home that snaps into place, “this is not what I would use. in public, because my dignity and the emotions associated with the product were never taken into account. Instead, she says, “Actually, I just go out without her and fight or ask for help.”

This is a human consequence of the choice of design. As Norregaard told Lifehacker, it’s not just designers that make design choices. She highlights the growing responsibility of programmers and the danger of “intent without awareness” that often manifests itself in technological solutions such as facial recognition (which often does not work for dark skin tones ) or digital assistants (which usually use female voices by default ). The problem arises when a designer cannot question and take into account his assumptions, his “defaults”. (As longtime iPhone engineer Ken Kotsienda recently told Lifehacker , this is why tech companies need to hire and promote a more diverse workforce: when nearly all decision makers are healthy white men, they often can’t anticipate the needs of everyone else.)

These decisions also arise in a wide variety of non-technological roles. “Design plays an important role in shaping things that it didn’t even have a decade ago,” says Norregaard to Lifehacker. Guest Laura McBain , co-director of the Stanford d.school K12 Lab , is experienced in educational planning and uses her role to find design solutions at all levels, looking for “fine-grained experiments” to improve performance for everyone. student, up to the choice, for example, rearranging the desk. She admits that sometimes she is still embarrassed to call herself a designer; she hears colleagues refer to themselves as “just a teacher” and “just a director,” and she sees design language as a way for these educators to wield the influence of their decisions and be aware of their power, rather than just following the rules, transmitted through a larger system. And this is very important when the system has flaws or is intended only for the “default” student, who is not aware of the realities with which teachers and principals live.

Inclusive design is not something that designers give us, not designers, from above. Its principles and lessons were taken from other areas. Guest Tucker Wiemeister , an industrial designer who helped develop OXO’s famous “Good Grips” kitchen tools, sees his approach as not only his industrial designer father, but also his social worker mother. “Design is how we relate to each other,” he says in a podcast. The essence of design is not about making something look good or appear to be innovative, but about taking into account the experience of the final recipient.

“The world we live in right now is mostly designed for averaging, which means it doesn’t fit very well for many,” Norregaard tells Lifehacker. “That being said, many of us don’t always count.” Here’s what we need to change. Not only people with “design” in their title, but all of us whose decisions influence others.

It is not even limited to those with apparent power over large systems, but to everyone who had to change or break the system to meet their needs, especially when those needs were marginalized. “People who live on the edge are constantly looking for solutions. We all do that sometimes, ”says Norregaard. This is great news for the readers of Lifehacker: whenever you hack into something to make it work better for your situation, you are in the act of design.


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