Article Digital Transformation
14 June 2024

Why businesses need to take inclusive design seriously

We believe that when creating digital products and experiences, we need to optimise towards the needs of as many people as technically possible. In today's blog, we explore why inclusive design needs near the top of the agenda in your business.

Key Insights

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Your business needs to prepare for an ageing population

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Serving people with different needs is rewarding

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Inclusivity shouldn't just be for customers, commit to a new internal culture

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Inclusive design can build trust, loyalty and advocacy

Inclusive design is not about trying to be ‘nice’. it isn’t even really about making sure people don’t feel left out. It’s about promoting better relations between people… all people. 

Taking inclusivity seriously will help businesses understand the context of the people you do business with, it will help support and nurture relationships that are mutually beneficial and it will go a long way to educating you in what inclusivity really looks like.

Everybody should have the right to participate in life fully. This isn’t a platitude, it is a principle of the human experience. The way in which we design digital products and experiences should reflect this. As designers and developers, we must take responsibility for inclusion, and do it as a matter of intentional choice, to be certain that we don’t cause unintentional harm.

By taking on an inclusive design mindset, we can actually save time and resources in the long run, fueling the kind of innovation that leads to competitive advantage. 

Let’s explore some of the opportunities and challenges that adopting an inclusive design approach has, and establish the groundwork for a transformational approach to design and development!

The Opportunities

These opportunities are generalised somewhat for the purposes of this article. However, it is important to give your customers a voice and to listen to their individual, nuanced stories. Hearing from disabled, marginalised or vulnerable people can be incredibly impactful. Especially when it involves understanding the frustrations they face when services don’t meet their needs.

Preparing for an ageing population

In the United Kingdom, 1 in 5 people are disabled, with that figure growing to 1 in 2 for adults that are aged 65 and above. That’s an incredible 13 million people, which represents a huge minority who are traditionally undervalued, underserved and/or excluded.

It’s very important that we plan now, for what is only ever going to become an older general population.

Serving marginalised people well, pays off

Committing to inclusive design usually opens your products or services to an additional 15 – 20% of the population. Whilst helping your organisation plan for the future access needs of your customers.

The total spending power of disabled households in the UK each year totals £279 billion. It is estimated that UK businesses lose approximately £2 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people.

Committing to a new internal culture creates value

If 15-20% of the UK population has intricate and underserved needs, it means that 15-20% of your employees also do.

Having a resolute commitment to inclusion, accessibility and regulatory adherence has huge value. Inclusion doesn’t just benefit your customers, but also your company culture and workplace wellbeing.

Creating loyal customers and brand advocates by proxy

If your brand and business build a reputation for being inclusive and accessible, the loyalty potential is huge.

Research has shown that people in many cases prioritise accessibility over pricing. In the ‘click-away pound’ research it was suggested that – 85% of users with access needs limit their shopping to sites known to be barrier-free.

So you can hopefully see that there is plenty of justification for committing to inclusive design and development for 2024 and beyond.

Now let’s take a look at some of the challenges.

The Challenges

Being accessible isn’t being inclusive

Meeting WCAG standards is one step on the ladder that is inclusivity.

Being accessible is obviously hugely important, but think about the complexity of human circumstances that might make an individual marginalised or vulnerable and you will realise that accessibility doesn’t cut the mustard. You have to think beyond accessibility to customer context to really address what inclusive design looks like for your business.

Inclusive CX & UX is hard

As with challenge one, it is one thing to have an app and a website that allows for hearing-impaired or visually-impaired people to engage, it is another thing entirely to design for the needs of the neuro-degenerative, the bereaved, the disconnected, the ageing.

Committing to inclusive design means committing to understanding context and finding suitable, non-standard solutions. Which is no mean feat.

The regulation is changing

Organisations need to understand the risks and consequences of not engaging with inclusive design practices.

Whether it is Consumer Duty, Accessibility or Vulnerable Customer legislation, many industries are moving to ensure that good customer outcomes are being obviously and identifiably optimised for. This means organisations have to prove that they are acting in the best interest of all types of customers.

The future looks like one of additional regulation rather than less, so to provably move with the prevailing winds, now is the time to act.

There is a huge amount of technical debt

Technical debt is the cost your business faces by returning to completed work to readdress its inclusiveness and accessibility.

Addressing inclusive design in retrospect can be a massive challenge. It can also be harder to actually complete properly.

So when embarking on the design and development (or redevelopment) of a core service or application, inclusive design principles need to be adopted to stop the frustration of having to revisit defined and delivered services once they are out in the world.



At Waracle, we really believe in inclusive design. We are passionate advocates for inclusive research, accessibility first design and more.

If you are looking for a team to help you build applications with a strong foundation set by inclusive design, then look no further.

Accessibility Audit

Your first step towards addressing inclusive design

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Blair Walker
Blair Walker
Head of Marketing