Building for Everyone | Annie Jean-Baptiste

Summary of: Building for Everyone: Expand Your Market with Design Practices from Google’s Product Inclusion Team
By: Annie Jean-Baptiste


In today’s increasingly diverse world, the need for inclusivity in product design has become essential. Ignoring this approach risks alienating a huge group of potential customers with significant purchasing power. ‘Building for Everyone’ by Annie Jean-Baptiste introduces the concept of product inclusion and offers insights into Google’s practices in creating inclusive products and services. By exploring examples of how Google transformed its internal design processes and leveraged diverse perspectives, this book summary highlights the importance of intentional inclusivity in design and offers actionable strategies for businesses to follow.

The Business Case for Inclusive Product Design

Firms that fail to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in product and service design risk alienating large groups of potential customers, limiting profitability, and losing moral standing. Inclusive product design requires deliberate and proactive planning for diverse needs and perspectives. The key is to involve a wide range of users in product design from the start, make design teams diverse, and test prototypes with diverse users. Google’s Assistant product serves as an example of inclusive product design, built with input from affinity groups representing diverse interests and dimensions. Inclusive products and services provide opportunities to more consumers, who spend more time considering, discussing, and buying them. In essence, inclusion breeds profit and recognition, making it an essential aspect of product design.

Building Inclusive Products

Inclusive product design is not an afterthought, but should be embedded in the planning and information-gathering stage. Google’s product inclusion team is an example of an ethical and business-driven initiative, which advises designers and managers on how to build better products through original research, testing, and education. By investing time upfront in learning, getting an executive sponsor and aligning business issues and inclusion problems, a team can create a plan to test or pilot a product and measure success. The earlier that diversity and inclusion are included in the product design, the greater the impact.

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Product

Building a diverse and inclusive product requires creating an atmosphere of curiosity and ensuring that everyone feels respected and heard. The product inclusion team should engage with underrepresented groups and collect data and knowledge to incorporate diverse perspectives throughout all stages of product design. This includes attending product meetings, identifying DEI priorities, and addressing as many dimensions of diversity as possible. Convincing skeptical product managers and others can be done by sharing data or inviting them to speak with diverse people and groups. Building a product inclusion muscle takes time, but the rewards are worth it.

Emphasize Ethical Reasons and Research Data for Inclusive Business

When advocating for underrepresented groups in business, it is important to balance emphasizing the ethical reasons for inclusion with data that demonstrates the financial benefits. Personal stories about real people and the human consequences of exclusion can also be impactful. Market size estimates framed in financial terms can help convince decision-makers. However, implementation and execution require employee buy-in. Efforts need to be made to secure support from both top-down and bottom-up perspectives, including involving employees in planning and designs.

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