Inclusive design has been a buzzword for the past few years, as brands seek out new ways to provide tailored experiences that don’t leave anyone out. But what exactly constitutes inclusive design, and what can consumers expect to see this year? From the simple measures, like designing with gender neutral color palettes, to experimental approaches like multisensory typography, we take a look at what’s new in inclusive design.
Making color palettes more inclusive
When it comes to inclusive design, gender identity is an important area where brands have already started to make changes — changes we can expect to continue in the coming years. The use of gender-neutral color palettes for everything from website designs to product packaging and even sportswear is an easy fix that most brands can make to immediately create a new level of inclusivity in their product — which is partly why we can expect this trend to be so big.
What does this trend actually look like? When classically gendered colors like pink and blue are used, they’ll typically show up in muted tonalities or new shades. General color use will often be minimalistic and muted, utilizing pastels and muted grays, yellows, greens, oranges, and light browns.
Opening up typographies
For people with visual disabilities or cognitive and learning disabilities, or simply for people who are a little less tech savvy, accessible typefaces can be a serious gamechanger. This has only grown more important as the pandemic has shifted a number of experiences online.
But what exactly does it mean to make your typography more inclusive? There are a number of concrete factors you can take into account when choosing fonts that will make them more accessible, including focusing on fonts that avoid joined letters (or ligatures), fonts with large openings (or apertures) in their letters, and fonts with a taller x-height.
Taking touch seriously
When it comes to accessible real-world design, mobility and touch are major factors brands have started to consider, especially when it comes to clothing. Shoe giant Nike even recently released laceless, hands-free sneakers designed with accessibility in mind. But questions of mobility and touch accessibility can show up in the digital world as well.
Browsing on digital devices can be a surprisingly intricate hands-on experience, with exciting website designs often inviting visitors to push, pinch, swipe and more. For some users, however, those motions might not come as easily. Brands like Google have already experimented with gesture controls for their mobile device, allowing users to activate features with air movements and bodily gestures — and while technology has some kinks, expect to see it crop up more often in the future.
Taking other senses into account is a great way to ensure design experiences are richer and more personal for as many people as possible. While real-world typographical choices can easily incorporate senses like touch, finding ways to make our digital experiences of typography more sensual is an interesting challenge, one designers will likely be taking up in the future.
Digital typographies can be made multisensory by asking questions. What might this text taste, smell, or sound like if I were encountering it in the real world? Digital text might evoke the sense of touch, for instance, by leaning into designs that evoke heat or cold. On the other hand, floral fonts and designs might evoke memories of specific sweet scents in the minds of users. And of course, activating the full range of human senses will be key to the future success of mediums like augmented and virtual reality.