Inclusive Design

Thinking beyond accessibility

Northeast PHP 2018

Mike Miles

Genuine (

Dev(up); (

All the internet places: mikemiles86

We all have one thing in common

We want to make a positive impact on as many people as possible

Inclusive Design is...

Planning considerations to ensure that a product, service and/or environment is usable by everyone to the greatest extent possible.

Based on Universal Design

Ronald L. Mace Slewyn Goldsmith Patricia Moore
Ronald L. Mace Slewyn Goldsmith Patricia Moore

Founded and pushed the idea of universal design in the architecture and design of public spaces. Lowering barriers to make those spaces as usable by as many people as possible.

sloped curb

The sloped curb is a result of barrier free/universal desighn. It helps those with accessibility issues, but also beyond. Parents with strollers, delievery people, even people distracted by a text on their cellphone.

Thinking beyond accessibility

Inclusive Design encompasses accessibility issues, as well as, the wider range of human differences.

Inclusive Design

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Education
  • Age




Cognitive Ability


10 Principles of Inclusive Design

  1. Be Equitable
  2. Be Flexible
  3. Be Straightfoward
  4. Be Perceptible
  5. Be Informative
  1. Be Preventative
  2. Be Tolerant
  3. Be Effortless
  4. Be Accomidating
  5. Be Consistent

© 05/2011 Sandi Wassmer

Four Pillars of Inclusive Design

  1. No user is average
  2. Every user deserves equal access
  3. Provide understandable content for every user
  4. Every user deserves our trust and respect

©CC4.0 09/2016 Mike Miles

I. No user is average

Mig-15 fighter jet

In 1952 the Air force had a problem, their new jets were not performing well. The issue? The cockpit was designed for the "average" pilot, for someone who did not exist. It was not until they designed to accomidate the actual differences of pilots did performance improve.

The Myth of Average

"If you design for the average, you are literally designing for nobody."

- Todd Rose

The average user does not exist

Building for the "average user" is the same as building for no user. Every user has a unique difference

Plan beyond the average user

Planning for unique users (outliers) and their differences, means capturing everyone in between.

Create personas with limitations

woman with glasses broken wrist Working on an airplane

"Has red-green colorblindness"

"Has a broken wrist due to a skiing accident"

"Does most work while traveling"

Personalize the experience

  • Use analytics to influence the interface.
  • Collect feedback when possible.
  • Iterate to meet user behaviours.

We believe that no user is average

II. Every user deserves equal access

44% of internet browsing is from desktop

desktop tablet mobile

Data Source:

Only a few years ago we were asking clients if they wanted a mobile site. Now we tell them they need a responsive site. The market changed. The same thing is happening for accessibility, we need to tell clients they have to plan this way.

Structure in a way that makes sense


Google does not care about how your website looks. They care about the markup and being able to readers your content in the correct order. As do people with screen readers. If you plan for them, then you plan for better SEO

Average global internet speed: 7.2Mbps

Republic of Mali

Republic of Mali

South Korea

South Korea

0.5 Mbps 28.6 Mbps

Data Source:

If you just build for South Korea, people in Mali are going to have a poor expirence. However, if you plan and build for people in Mali then everyone is going to have a positive experience.

Artificially limit yourself

  • Use tools to throttle connection
  • Disable JavaScript
  • Can you navigate without a mouse?

We believe that every user deserves equal access

III. Provide understandable content to every user

The website was redesigned and the content was reorganized with real users in mind.

"The website should act like a helpful human. This is one of the big differences between the old site and the new site... on the old site, it would feel like you were interacting with some sort of lawyer-robot that was speaking to you in government-speak"

Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the city’s chief of information technology

Source: The Boston Globe

Be clear and direct

  • Use simple phrasing and avoid jargon
  • Pay attention to font, spacing, line length
  • Be meaningful, tools to check readability

Tools like can help you write clear, direct and meaningful content. A readability score of "Grade 6" means the content is engaging enough for advanced users, but clear and inviting enough for new users.

Inform and guide

  • Display useful error messaging
  • Plan a user's journey
  • Provide contextual relations
highlited contextual sections of

The website feature contextually linked sections such as street cleaning and tow lots.

We believe in providing understandable content to every user

IV. Provide every user with trust and respect

Inclusive Design: Excluding no gender

"The easiest way to do inclusive design? Stop asking about gender!"

- Sarah Leren account gender question options give users multiple options on how to identify their geneder, or not select an option at all.

Collect only the information you need

  • Ask "Why do we need this data?"
  • Ask "What options can we give users?"
  • Ask "Why should users give this to us?"
Pintrest account signup

Pintrest not only gives users options, but also explains to the user why they collect gender information.

Be responsible with data

  • Explain how the data is used
  • Explain how the data is protected
  • Give users control of their data

We believe in providing every user with trust and respect

Four Pillars of Inclusive Design

  1. No user is average
  2. Every user deserves equal access
  3. Provide understandable content for every user
  4. Every user deserves our trust and respect

If we agree to these four pillars when building our applications, then we have to think differently.

Four Pillars of Inclusive Design

  1. No average
  2. Equal access
  3. Understandable content
  4. Trust and respect

We make a positive impact on as many people as possible

And if we follow the four pillars, then we will reach a wider audience.

This presentation
10 Principles of Inclusive Design
The Myth of Average
BBC Semantic guidelines
Inclusive Design Patterns
Inclusive Design: Excluding No Gender

Thank You!