UXPA Boston 2019
Diversity isn't a Fad, the Business Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) #
Being composed of different elements, having variety.
- Cognitive (big innovation driver, via different life experiences. Increases the size of your team's collective "mental toolbox")
- Heuristics (Rules of Thumb)
- Predictive Models
- Gender Identity
Freedom from bias or favoritism in access.
- Equality has everyone getting the same benefit, even if it isn't enough for others. Equity is giving people what they need to achieve the main goal.
- To watch a ball game, people are given however boxes or ramps they need (or don't need) to look over a fence and watch a game.
- Achieving equity usually takes allies higher up in the power structure
Participating in a group, not just feeling welcome.
- Avoiding Tokenism, or having a more diverse person just to say they're there. Even if they're ultimately unqualified
- Allow vulnerability for better perspective sharing.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We're all learning at the same time.
DEI in Context #
DEI is increasing in various aspects of the media, but often gets treated as a "checkbox" that is fixed simply by bringing different people into the fold.
Lack of DEI can lead to "discriminatory design," which can be intentional or not but the result is the same. Example is a soap dispensor that works with white hands but not black ones, due to it likely being developed by mostly/all white engineers. Better DEI helps avoid these issues since they can be called out.
Who is the most unable to use that? ~ Kat Holmes
Mismatch, recommended book by Holmes
Fixing these kinds of issues "over time" isn't always viable due to how they're being used today. Facial recognition AIs have a much higher error rate for black women (35% vs 1% for white males), but these are being used by governments right now for crime. Those are major consequences to a lack of DEI happening now.
An Offensive Angle #
Arguing for DEI to bolster business. Recent studies found a correlation between increased staff diversity and profitability. Glassdoor also found that a diverse workforce attracts more talent, since more job-seekers are prioritizing it.
When planning to bring DEI to a company, tie it to incentives and the mission. Add a layer of accountability of it winds up being talk. Pinterest example: any new staff hire must include an under-represented group as part of the hire.
- Disrupt biased thinking
- Support talent not being heard
Writing and Designing for Localization #
- More people can access it
- More effective use in their own language (don't alienate people forced to use a second language)
- More people = more revenue (good buy-in point for convincing jerks)
Even for products limited to the US, there's still a variety of languages like Spanish and Chinese being used. So that's no excuse to ignore it!
Best Practices #
- Formative Research - Look at the actual languages they're using and how. Specific terms? Switching between them?
- Design - Test out automated translations in the design stage. See if designs handle different text lengths, right-to-left alignments, etc.
- Challenge innate design assumptions, even color choices. Red is positive in China, so extra context can help.
- Reflect the audience - design test users after the actual users (more than just white hands in the branded materials)
- Also with stock user data and images in the mockups.
- Writing - keep it short and simple
- Avoid jargon and culturally-specific terms
- Clarify ambigious language (such as icons with multiple meanings)
- Be careful putting parameters into strings (could be genedered nouns that clash with the sentence)
- Establish important, common language ahead of time. Fits well into style guides!
- Collaborate - Work with Translators
- Define specific parameters around audience, tone, difficult content ahead of time
- Diverse teams reflective of major language audiences help greatly
Localization Approach Steps #
- Start with clear, concise language
- Consider the local audiences.
- Are there different terms they may use with the same basic meaning?
- Are some nouns used as verbs, or vice versa?
- Conduct Resonance Research
- Terms or phrases to make the message hit harder?
- Design for Accessibility
- Translating alt text?
- Screen readers?
- Launch Planning and Promotion
- Apply all the above rules to the promotional material
Accessibility for Content Strategists and Designers #
Making large amounts of existing content accessible.
- It's the right moral choice
- Long-term stretegy for increased audience reach
- Legally consequences. Matter of "if" not "when"
Simple Tools to Start #
Alt Text for images #
- Meaningful and intentional, not just filler
- Content of the photo
- Function (or purpose) of the photo
- Intent. Why is the photo there for the user? Create an emotional response or simply inform them?
- Screen readers, images that didn't load, SEO boost
- Short, sweet, and not repetitive
- Don't write how it's a photo
- Leave it blank for decorative images
- No text in images!
- If logo, say it's the logo
Hierarchal and Tagged
- The more important the header, the close to an
h1tag it is
- In the proper order, with lower headings below the higher ones
- Don't use heading tags for stylings!
Link Text #
Avoid "click here" for a link, as it tells screen readers nothing (especially in large groups). Use descriptive link text with a potential call to action and key words.
Alternate option is killing the "continue reading" link altogether, and making the heading as a link. Can also include screen-reader specific text calling them to read more.
Ensure there's a strong color contrast ratio. Helps those with types of colorblindess or environmental factors like sunlight.
- Color Oracle. Check the colors in grayscale!
- WebAIM color contrast checker. Aim for a 4.5:1 ratio.
Don't rely solely on color for meaning. Icons, text, sizing, or other paired semantics will help.
Include captions and transcripts (transcripts are often better) for different media. If captions, avoid auto captions!
Buy In #
- Set measurable goals. Use accessibility checkers, but know they can't cover everything either so they're not the last word on it. Can be Lighthouse or aXe.
- Keep track of ongoing accessibility issues and share progress that's been made and should still be made.
Evil By Design, Integrating Better Ethics into Design #
We assume tech is neutral and simply a tool for business, which is naive and blind. It sets people up to be taken advantage of.
- Algorithms that bias our minds and reality
- Engagement leads to addictive apps
Being an ethical designer means being well informed about reality, since their decisions can greatly affect (and damage or exploit) it.
Personal Ethics #
Our brain is how we think of the present, and our hearts are how we think of the future. So any design decisions we make which affect the future are ultimately ethical decisions. Technology is driven by beliefs. Companies also ship their cultures.
Designing to make something better is subjective, and this could change over time. A design that makes someone "feel better" can make many others suffer. So empathy or user-centered design isn't enough to avoid this. It's important to look at the consequences of the decisions more, even when they're made by basically good people.
Being a good person often isn't enough, and needs a system of shared beliefs.
No longer a creative class, instead be a responsible class.
- Why over how.
- Communication over craft.
- Whole picture over detail.
- Social responsibility over user empathy.
Shared Ethics #
Making ethical decisions as a group is tougher since there's a lot more shades of gray with multiple viewpoints. It can help force people out of their comfort zone, but can make people so uncomfortable with "politics at work" that they shut it down. Especially in (American) cultures where different viewpoints are tolerated less, or beliefs other than our own are automatically "wrong."
- Shared beliefs over personal morals
- Shared responsibility over "us vs them"
- Ethical principles over design principles
Company Processes #
How do we translate design stories and ethics into a business model and numbers?
- Looking at potential lawsuits arising from mistreating users
- Continuous, qualitative self-questioning of values
- Culture of more talking about beliefs at work
- Loyalty over revenues
Practical tactics to do this:
- Look at the languages we use to describe the product or service
- Language that minimizes edge cases or user difficulties avoids the question
- Imagine a Black Mirror episode where your product is misused in a dystopian way
- Build a "Moral Value Map"
- Avoid the The Eight Risk Zones of unethical design
- Economic Inequalities
- Algorithmic Biases
- Data Control and Monetization
- User Trust and Understanding
- Hateful and Criminal Actors
- Talking more with coworkers about effects on social good, more than simply "making"
- Make it a core of the design and system of beliefs, not something to "tack onto the end"
People Over Pixels, Five Lessons for Building an Evergreen Design System #
Design Systems can be defined as:
- Style Guides
- Component Libraries
- Guidelines and Patterns
- Common Practice
These enforce consistency and avoid reinventing the wheel each time.
1. Only Design What's Necessary #
Avoid too many iterations of the same component. Each one needs a specific purpose to avoid making things simply to add new designs. Auditing a system to find base components shows it's usually not as huge as it appears.
2. Don't Pull the Sheet off the Car #
Refers to a big reveal, wow moment of the design system. Better to do a slow rollout with gradual feedback and integration.
- Avoid heavy disruption of other apps
- Keep priorities in proper order
3. Find and Use a Common Language #
Helps iron-out inconsistencies between the designers' and developers' visions. Having a specified set of colors (named off a common language) reduces the risk of mismatched decisions.
- Use clear, specific, even weird-sounding, names that immediately convey the purpose
- Ask many people from the different groups "what would you call this?" to help define a name
4. Make it Easy to do the Right Thing #
Make it easy to find the right component in a single place with an understandable UI. Ideally, designers and developers use the same system.
Make basic design decisions built into the code by default, like automatically spacing adjacent buttons apart. Could also build out page components in advance for fast reference.
Any changes automatically echo across all possible use instances.
Have written guidelines to hold others accountable, including themselves. Possible for anyone to check and ensure they're being followed. Basics are where to use, where not to use, and how to use it. Just need to be written down!
5. Define a Process, not a Project #
Defining how it's going to be implemented and updated within any project, not for a specific project. Radically different projects will likely need their own processes defined, so processes are higher priority.
- Requesting new components
- Changing existing components
- Requesting assets
- Updating documentation
- Updating core styles
The Accessibility Mindset, Dispelling Accessibility Myths #
A11y Misunderstandings #
- It's process-friendly, not inherently challenging
- Woven thoughout the process, not tacked on at the end
- A single source of code, not having a separate accessibility version of a site
- Dynamic and engaging, not lackluster or uninteresting
- Rich media, not text only
- Helps everyone, not just a minority of users
Appropriate Categories of Disability #
These vary for different organizations.
- Spotty vision, partial vision loss
- Alzheimers, other mental degeneration
- Lack of sleep
- Emotional control
- Slow connections
- Outdated technology
Disabilities exist along a spectrum of permanent, temporary, and situational. People can move in and out of them throughout their lives (temporary injuries, environments, situations, even cultural).
Evolving Your Organization #
Tie a11y into existing goals and values for each group. Not enough for one person or one department to be the only ones prioritizing it. It affects everyone in some way.
- Customer Success will hear from people dealing with a11y issues in the product
- Company facilities and learning material should be accessible
- Marketing should aim for accessible content
- Recruitment for gathering people with broader, more diverse applicants
- Sales team knowing how to pitch the product properly to those with differeny a11y needs
- Legal team to avoid lawsuits
- If they push back to avoid drawing attention to a current lack of a11y, point out that fixing it removes any danger like that. Better to show they're going to improve, those with a11y needs aren't itching to filing lawsuits.
- Simpler incentive of more recent lawsuits, so it's riskier to ignore it now.
This helps position the message for how accessibility helps everyone.
Next Steps to Take #
- Increase internal and external awareness
- Low awareness can be the biggest obstacle
- Spread word of positive a11y improvements
- Org commitment to meeting standards
- WCAG 2.1 AA is the common standard in the US
- Document the baseline of a11y
- Ongoing docs for an ongoing process
- Up to date with best practices
- Awareness > Fixes > Documentation > Repeat
The A11y Mindset #
It's never complete, it flows on forever.
- Set official policies and documentation on it for accountability
- A11y isn't tough, it just needs to be included from the start
- Once awareness is increased, many people will follow. So awareness matters a lot.
Practicing Ethical Design #
Externalities - costs of design that are borne by other people, not the designers.
All design decisions have ethical implication, since they affect people's actions and behavior. We are already, and always, taking part in these dyanmic systems with good and bad outcomes. We can't simply be "neutral."
Human-centered design means focusing design on doing good. This includes improving well-being, balancing ideologies, improves social and environmental responsibilities, and contributes to social justice.
Amid all these values, design decisions come down to which values we want to prioritize. Which is why it falls to the individual.
See design as a social and political process spread across many people. This distributes ethical responsibility across all members of each department. It's not a simple, linear process where any person can see all the moving parts working together.
Leads to decisions with:
- Unintended consequences
- Unexpected scale
- Impacted across wide amounts of space and time
- Affected by specific context
- Different voices offering explainations
Design decisions often reflec exist hierarchies unless the work to change them, such as racism or economic inequalities. Good UX is no guarantee to stop these kinds of outcomes.
- Algorthms that may reinforce existing biases, like police algorithms that reinforce biases against black citizens.