Why inclusivity by design is vital for a fulfilling digital customer experience

  • Insights
  • DX

Companies that are good at fostering meaningful connections with their customers know that inclusivity is key in building a brand that makes people click. Not just internally, where 78% of employees feel it’s important to work at an organisation that makes inclusivity a priority; but also externally, with 69% of users keen to click away from websites that are not accessible or not relatable.

There can be many reasons why web users might call a site’s inclusivity into question when considering their overall customer experience. They could have a visual condition or other impairment, and text and image cues may not be optimised to their advantage. Or someone who from a specific ethnic or socio-economic background may not feel their needs have been represented in the way products and services are presented.

As we continue to embrace diversity, it’s imperative that organisations make their websites as inclusive as possible. At MMT, we strategically support businesses to consider this as one of the key pillars of their digital transformation.

Consider all components of digital customer experience

For us, inclusive web design removes bias and assumptions from a website. In this way, users are less likely to feel excluded due to a disability, their demographics, or other factors.

Overall site design is a critical component of building an inclusive website and a vital aspect of customer experience. We take a data-driven approach to design that tests and validates how real users engage with a website.

Universal accessibility and inclusivity are at the core of our web design projects. We don’t just aim to tick the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) requirements set by Web Accessibility Initiative, but instead we go above and beyond it. It’s our mission to analyse each client organisation’s audience on a much deeper level, so you can cater to their needs in the best, most inclusive way possible.

This can entail reviewing and responding to a range of factors, such as:

  • Physical and mental health conditions

  • Socio-economic factors, from technical constraints to computer literacy

  • Culture and community, including language barriers

  • Other demographic factors affecting online customer experience

At present, it’s estimated that 98% of websites don’t comply with WCAG - and if yours is one of those you could be missing out on enquiries and revenue, as well as letting down a section of your audience.

Responding to the case for inclusive customer experience design

Now that we know there’s a clear business case for inclusivity in online customer experience, how does that play out in website design strategy?

At a high level, brands and their design team must keep in mind the following points:

  • One in five people in the UK have a type of disability. Are your digital products fully accessible to them?

  • Building digital solutions that fully reflect the diversity of your user base is key, and that relies on implementing a strong data strategy. On a practical level, the design team must have a deep understanding of users and the limitations they experience with existing websites.

  • Accessibility needn’t get in the way of creative design solutions; they’re not mutually exclusive for expert customer experience design teams.

Remember that there are fundamental benefits resulting from more inclusive design. First, better web design can support better product design - all of the insights from the data you’ve analysed can be applied to items which your customers buy or use.

Second, you’ll naturally engage a wider audience if you make it easier for everyone to have a good customer experience on your site.

Third, inclusivity can boost your SEO rankings. Google has in the past updated its algorithm to include accessibility best practices as an essential factor in creating better on-page experiences.

So, think about the desires, worries and frustrations of your audience in its widest sense when you’re designing an inclusive customer experience: get under people’s skin, building profiles of all the groups who use your digital products - not just the most obvious.

Five features to boost web design inclusivity

Now here’s a brief look at five suggested approaches to make your digital customer experience more inclusive:

  • Customer comfort - Designers can look at the digital space through the audience’s eyes, and add layers of design that will make them feel at home: appropriate colour, text formats and size, and so on.

  • Easy data input - Frustration can quickly creep into the customer experience if users keep getting stuck on aspects of data input. Be it personal data or credit-card details, online forms should be easy to complete and display highly visible, easy-to-follow and uniform error messages to aid corrections.

  • Be consistent - As alluded to earlier, inclusive design needn’t mean boring or repetitive design. Consistency is key to removing confusion and also provides a smooth and simple journey on-site.

  • A healthy mix of content - Just as people learn in different ways, they also have preferred methods of accessing information. A blanket approach locks some people out, so your design should encompass all elements of imagery and text - including ‘narrate text’ and video options - to boost understanding and inclusivity.

  • Test the best experience - The simplest designs are often the most intuitive, and therefore the most inclusive. Understanding what’s going to work requires a test-and-learn approach to inform the features that add value for all audience groups.

According to research, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad user experience. The inference is unequivocal: inclusive design has a direct impact on a business’s commercial performance and customer retention.

Lastly, universally accessible design must be based on insight, not on assumption. Research is key. The design process begins long before you start putting pencil to paper or opening up your digital design application. It starts by understanding the real challenges faced by all of your users.

To discover more about what inclusivity in digital design can do for your organisation and your audience, get in touch today.