Good design, inclusive growth

Who can participate in society and who sits on the sidelines? For better or worse, people who create technology often hold the key to this power. Something as simple as color choices can render a product unusable for millions of people. Yet companies are still releasing new technologies at a breakneck pace without addressing these issues. Although inclusion is a rising topic of interest in business, very few leaders know exactly how to turn this critical issue into an economic opportunity.

Today's teams create products for millions, if not billions, of people. In the push for growth many leaders are concerned that their products are worsening the digital divide. In 2009, the World Bank defined inclusive growth as "raising the pace of growth...and increasing productive employment opportunities". Technology has the potential to be a great equalizer, or a great inhibitor, of inclusive growth. The difference lies in the choices made by designers and developers. 

Inclusive design doesn’t mean you’re designing one thing for all people. You’re designing a diversity of ways for people to participate with a sense of belonging.
— Susan Goltsman, Principal at MIG Consulting, Author of The Inclusive City

Inclusion starts with recognizing exclusion

As with any new skill, inclusion takes practice. But it also requires a new generation of methods and tools. This is especially true for product development. Our ambition is to create better ways to identify and fix exclusion at the scale for the industry's leading product teams. At the end of the day, inclusive design is good design.

In technology, exclusion happens when designers and developers use their own physical, cognitive, and social biases as a baseline for creating products, services, and environments. This exclusion bias leads to solutions that work well for people with similar abilities and identities -- but can end up excluding everyone else. 

An image with three panels. On the left, an illustration of three people connected by a line: a person with one arm, a person with an arm injury, and a person holding a baby. In the center is poster stating "It's a big world. Design for all." It has an illustration showing many features of a city including buildings, people, and outdoor environments. On the right, another illustration of three people connected by a line: a person who is hard of hearing, a person reading airport captions, and a person teaching a child to read.

We start with one simple question: Who's excluded? As you work with and learn from excluded communities you'll discover solutions that work well for anyone who experiences the same exclusion on a permanent, temporary, or situational basis. Kata's services guide you in how to use inclusive methods to design adaptive experiences, grow market share, and reduce customer churn.

Our Principles

At Kata, we focus on simple ways to cultivate an inclusive mindset and practices in your existing product development process. Pioneered by Kat Holmes, our method is based on three principles that are widely recognized as industry-leading ways to improve the inclusivity of technology:

1. Recognize exclusion.

It happens when we use our own biases to create solutions.

2. Learn from human diversity.

Consider human interactions, rather than demographics.

3. Solve for one , extend to many.

Engage with excluded customers to discover mass-market opportunities.

Kata’s workshop was truly an eye-opening experience. I realized how even larger audiences benefit when designing inclusively for specific communities. I now look at the world with different and more creative perspectives each and every day.
— Miho Beal, Regional Application Engineer, GE Power
Not only was I introduced to an important topic I never truly considered, but I was also given an opportunity to walk through Kata’s ‘design for inclusion’ process. It changed me! Today, I find myself more self aware of how I brand, create, and design.
— Maryrose Solis, Founder, March4Ward

About Kat Holmes

There are a growing number of inclusion experts in the world. What makes Kat unique is her level of hands-on experience applying it to mass-scale consumer technology. She is the founder of Kata and These complementary ventures form a platform of people and tools for advancing inclusion in product development and digital experiences. She also advises companies on inclusive design methods that she pioneered while in her role as Director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft. This product development approach emphasizes human diversity and results in adaptive experiences, inclusive growth, and reduced customer churn.

In 2017, Kat was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business. She led the development of Microsoft's award-winning Inclusive Design toolkit. This toolkit is widely recognized as a "radical" evolution of design thinking and practices, including honors from the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) and Fast Company's World Changing Ideas.

Kat's work stems from three core values:
1. There's no such thing as an average human being.
2. People should be in the lead, not just the center, of technology.
3. Work with people who you enjoy being around. Make something worth making. Have fun.

Learn more at LinkedIn at Kat Holmes. A full summary of experience and recognition is located at Kat Holmes Design.


Photo credit: Ely Philips, Ignition Creative

Photo credit: Ely Philips, Ignition Creative