Inclusive Design

The best design is the one based on inclusive design – why do you think? Because by solving the everyday challenge for a diverse set of users it will benefit everybody and hereby the broadest possible market. The key is to embrace all users – you must have a true user-centred design (UCD). The designer has to empathize the user – know how they think, know how they feel in the specific situation when using the product.



OXO philosophies is: “a universal design and anyone should be able to use it” The OXO vegetable peeler from 1989 was designed with focusing on people with arthritis. OXO saw an opportunity to help people with reduced dexterity and as well design kitchen tools that were more comfortable for everyone. To understand the real issue the designers held workshops to see and empathize with the older people (also people with arthritis) and were able to study, observe, experience and then write a well-informed design brief. The end result was a peeler which trademark was the handle – thick, black, nonslip rubber which allows a firm grip. OXO saw an annual growth rate of over 30% and many of their products has become international bestsellers.

Ford Focus 

Ford Focus is the most famous example and I’m sure you have heard about it – if not Ford Focus was designed to be a car that was easy to operate and drive for older adults. And how did Ford’s designer solved this – they actually designed a special suit (the third age suite) which make movement more complicated (restrained movement for wrists, elbows, neck etc), gloves to restrict movement and make it difficult when pushing buttons and glasses which was mimicking reduced/challenged eyesight, viewing angle etc.   The designer experienced how to be an older person with disabilities and through this experience they were able to design a car with innovative features e.g. more headroom, wide front door (which makes it easier to get in and out of the car), larger dashboard controls so it’s easier to operate and locate. Ford Focus’ sale also increased because the car was appealing to young and older buyers.




Important lesson:


The Inclusive Design needs to be incorporated in a true user-centred design (UCD) product brief and if you succeed you improve people’s lives and it will also be good business.   Read more about inclusive design process: ford focus , OXO, Household Products

Also published on Medium.

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