Mobile applications have become a driving force in the business world, regardless of the platform they are built on, whether it's Microsoft PowerApps development or any other platform.
Around 70% of businesses today actually use mobile apps to access their business systems. That’s really incredible to see how technology has revolutionized the way of working and the flexibility it brought to the table.
When we create mobile apps, the first thing we desire is user count and accessibility. We want as many users as possible to use our application and access it seamlessly. However, many challenges arise when it comes to inclusivity.
For applications to reach a diverse audience, considering inclusivity in the design of mobile apps should be a top priority. Without addressing inclusivity issues, you fail to expand your user base – which limits growth.
So, what exactly is inclusive design, and how do we incorporate it into mobile applications?
In this guide, we’ll run through the actionable steps to ensure that you get to incorporate it into your applications. Whether you’re building a mobile app on iOS or Android, all of these inclusive design principles apply just the same.
What Is Inclusive Design?
Before anything else, let’s understand inclusive design on a deeper level. In simple terms, inclusive design is an approach that aims to create products, services, and environments that are as accessible as possible.
Every design choice you make can include new users, but it can also alienate them. The best way to understand inclusive design is to have a deep understanding of user diversity – who are your users, and what are their varied preferences and abilities?
Inclusive design also refers to design made for everyone – regardless of age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, language, and more. While bringing mobile apps to as many users as possible is a reasonable goal to strive for, it’s just as important to cater to their needs as well.
How to Incorporate Inclusive Design Into Mobile Applications
Now that we have a general idea of inclusive design, we can move on to more concrete examples of inclusive design in mobile apps. Here are some of the best examples of inclusive design:
Inclusive design for people with cognitive disabilities is all about ensuring that they can comprehend and easily interact with the mobile app. One way to achieve that is to use concise and simple language. Avoid using technical jargon or flowery words and keep things simple.
The use of simple language should extend to error messages as well, which we often see in mobile applications. You should be providing clear details about the error and instructions to rectify the issue.
Users who are challenged cognitively benefit from clear structures as well. When it comes to user navigation, keep things predictable. A great example of this is using a consistent layout or theme in your application.
Through insights obtained from data mining , you can gain insights into user navigation preferences and behaviors. Then, you can make better design decisions that prioritize usability , clarity, and ease of navigation.
To make your app even more accessible, it pays off to include a guided tutorial and accessible help features. By doing so, you make it easier for your users to understand your mobile application.
Another way to make your applications more appealing to the general public is to consider the economic status of your users. Excessive data usage can pose a significant issue for users with limited economic resources.
In that case, you can include a ‘data saver’ feature in your application. Alternatively, you can even develop your own lite version of the app!
If you’re offering a paid application, try including different pricing plans to cater to various economic backgrounds. Recognize that users have varying budgets, and allowing more flexibility in pricing can make your app more inclusive.
These could be one-time purchases, different tiers of monthly subscriptions, and discounted plans for long-term commitments.
Mobile games in particular can exclude many economically disadvantaged populations, consuming a lot of memory and sometimes requiring high-end processors. Should you venture into mobile games as well, balance economic accessibility with performance requirements.
If you truly want to expand your user base, you have to take into account the different cultures each user has grown up with.
This part of your design might require you to undergo extensive research on your user base. For example, it helps to have an idea of where most of your users are from and the cultural nuances associated with those regions.
Your research must include some common symbols and imagery in each culture. Avoid using symbols that may carry unintended meanings in certain contexts.
If possible, provide content in multiple languages. You must ensure that these are translated properly and also appropriate culturally.
For apps with in-app stores, provide the option to include your user’s choice of currency as well. This prevents confusion or inconveniences caused by currency conversion, creating a more inclusive and culturally sensitive environment for all users.
Users may prefer to interact with devices in different ways. Some users are fine with the usual touch gestures, but others might prefer using voice commands. By understanding the variety in user preferences, you create a more inclusive application.
Color and Contrast Sensitivity
Taking into consideration color and contrast sensitivity when developing a mobile application is a must-do. It’s particularly beneficial for users with visual impairments and color blindness.
This often involves designing interfaces with sufficient contrast between the background and text to improve readability. While this doesn’t only benefit users with permanent visual disabilities, it also benefits users using your app in different lighting conditions.
Providing a dark mode for your application can be considered an inclusive form of design. Physically, it can cause less strain in your eyes when reading at night. And for those who experience migraines and photophobia, it can further protect their eyes.
Note that dark mode isn’t necessarily the same as high-contrast mode, and it can only be considered as such if there is a high contrast between the text and background.
Inclusive Marketing and Support
As ironic as it may sound, an inclusive app shouldn’t be limited to the application itself. Instead, you should focus on creating an inclusive ecosystem that extends beyond your app.
Truly creating an inclusive application will require your marketing strategies and your support team to reflect this commitment. For your marketing content, utilize different formats such as text, images, and videos.
If you have a support team, ensure that you have several support agents who speak different languages. In case a user runs into an issue with your app, doing this makes the communication process a lot more seamless.
Subtitles and Transcripts
Subtitles or transcripts in videos won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a blessing for those who either have hearing impairments or those who prefer reading content.
Because they’re the representation of spoken words, you make any audio-visual material in your app accessible to a diverse audience. At the same time, this is a great opportunity to make content accessible to those who do not understand the original language. This, in particular, helps you reach a more global audience.
Everyone has different learning styles. For those who prefer visual or text-based comprehension, then subtitles not only accommodate their preferences, but also provide an enhanced learning experience.
People with photosensitive epilepsy may also be potential users of your mobile app, so it’s wise to consider them when making an inclusive design.
An epilepsy-friendly design requires you to avoid the use of flashing or rapidly changing visuals. Should your app have these kinds of animations, provide options to disable them to reduce the likelihood of seizures.
Benefits of Incorporating Inclusive Design
Now that you know the different inclusive design principles, it’s time we talk about the benefits of applying them. Here are some of the biggest advantages of incorporating inclusive design:
Improved User Satisfaction
Throughout this blog, we’ve covered how these different design strategies can help you reach new audiences. However, it’s worth noting that these don’t just allow you to connect with a more users, but also improve user satisfaction. Inclusive design creates a seamless and satisfying experience for everyone, leaving no one behind.
Positive Brand Image
When you make inclusivity a core value of your brand, you exude an image of responsibility of trust. Overall, this builds a positive perception of your brand. This image can differentiate you from competitors, especially in saturated markets.
Our society is moving toward creating a more inclusive environment. By creating an app with more inclusive design, your app will remain relevant – even in the long run.
Speaking of the long term, you get to reduce your development costs by building inclusive applications.
While taking these design concepts into consideration may cost a little more upfront, you still reduce costs by preventing the need for costly redesigns, especially if they’re inclusivity-related.
That being said, the importance of inclusive design in mobile applications cannot be understated. There are many ways to incorporate it – from catering to users with cognitive disabilities to adding simple subtitles and transcripts to your content.
Let’s not forget the several benefits that it can bring: improved user satisfaction, positive brand reputation, and long-term sustainability being some of them.
When creating your own mobile app, always keep these design principles in mind. Not only do you get to connect with a broader audience, but contribute toward creating an inclusive digital environment for all.