Mismatch | Kat Holmes

Summary of: Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)
By: Kat Holmes

Introduction

Welcome to our summary of ‘Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design,’ a fascinating exploration on designing for inclusivity. In this book, Kat Holmes argues that too often, designers ignore the needs of the majority of people, including those with disabilities, creating a mismatch between design intentions and user experiences. This summary will equip you with powerful insights on recognizing exclusion, listening to a diverse range of users, and creating more inclusive, empathetic designs that benefit all.

Designing for Inclusion

The book challenges the notion of designing for a “normal” user as no such person exists. The designs that suit the average user don’t cater to everyone’s needs, leaving out millions of potential customers. The author believes that recognizing exclusion is the starting point for designing products for inclusion. A mismatch is created between tools and technologies’ design and the way people interact with them, leading to billions of lost profits. The book emphasizes designing for inclusion to cater to all users’ needs, including those who are often omitted and excluded from the design process.

The Benefits of Inclusive Design

Inclusive design means creating a diversity of ways to participate so that everyone has a sense of belonging. This is essential because culture and ways of doing things can exclude others. Not only does social rejection undermine people’s sense of belonging, causing psychological and emotional damage, but it can also cause physical pain. Inclusive design means designing with the user in mind, rather than expecting them to adapt to our designs. As a designer and/or leader, it’s important to acknowledge our biases and make adjustments to create a more inclusive environment.

Inclusive design for everyone

Inclusive design aims to cater to the needs of everyone, including those with disabilities. The majority of the population, around 6.4 billion people, suffers from some form of disability at some point in their lives. Therefore, it is crucial to listen to a diverse group of people, including customers and experts, to gain valuable insights. The excluded group can provide the best knowledge and insight on how to incorporate them into the design. Inclusive design should be a priority for professionalism, not sympathy or pity. Even with challenges such as ambiguity and uncertainty, inclusive design should be a continuous effort in accommodating everyone’s needs.

Designing for Inclusion

Inclusive design is about intentionally creating products that cater to a broader audience, including those who have been excluded in the past. This approach not only has a positive impact on the community but also offers a competitive advantage. The key is to build for inclusion from the start of the product development cycle and work collaboratively across departments to ensure every element caters to different users. Inclusive design never ends, and you can always improve by observing how people interact with and use your products. The goal is to design for the few with results that might serve billions, and this can be achieved by building flexibility into your design.

Overcoming Systemic Exclusion

Systemic exclusion has been present throughout history, impeding certain groups from accessing resources, jobs, and even housing. However, this cycle must come to an end, and inclusivity should be prioritized early on in any design or solution. Inclusivity leads to better products by including a wider range of perspectives and ideas. Instead of focusing on one aspect of exclusion, design holistically to include as many people as possible. This requires acknowledging and taking responsibility for the exclusionary default in design and thinking through the “why” of your product to attract the most users possible. By doing so, senior leaders can be brought on board from the start, and everyone benefits from breaking the cycle of exclusion.

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