Design For All feat. Kinneir Dufort

We caught up with Brodie Willis, Senior Design Consultant at Kinneir Dufort, a user-centred design and product development consultancy in Bristol.

The purpose of the series ‘Design For All’ is to demonstrate the importance of inclusivity in design and share knowledge on how to create more inclusive and accessible design experiences.

Chris @ ADLIB: Can you please introduce yourself and what you do.

Brodie: Hi, my name is Brodie Willis and I’m a Senior Design Consultant at Kinneir Dufort in Bristol. I’ve been at KD for nearly 2 years now, but I’ve been working in consultancies for over ten.  My first role out of university was focused on textile product design, but since then I’ve worked on a broad range of projects, predominantly with start-ups and SME’s across nursery, consumer electronics, medical and sport & leisure sectors.

At KD, my aim is to create products that really make a difference. I collaborate with the other expertise teams to create accessible, sustainable, commercially viable products that align with our clients’ goals, and ultimately are joyful to use for the user.

Chris @ ADLIB: How important is inclusion to your work?

Brodie: It’s hugely important. By designing inclusively we’re basically designing for our future selves, as at some point it’s likely that we will be impaired to some extent.  We talk about broadening the ‘inclusivity boundary’ – the more accessible a product or service is, the more people can experience it. From a clients’ perspective their market share is increasing as they engage new audiences, and if they are successfully creating an emotional connection, the advocacy to their brand will grow and grow.

In turn, the more successful the company is, the more it reinforces the value of inclusive design and hopefully the more opportunities there will be to do more as companies take note.

Chris @ ADLIB: How are you promoting inclusive design through your work and what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

Brodie: It really depends on the client and the project as to how we approach it, but right from the off we try to introduce accessibility and inclusivity to the conversation. This may tease out whether there may be gaps in understanding of user groups who could be being excluded, and potentially options for addressing this, crucially before the project has progressed too far.

We don’t always get afforded these opportunities though if the budget is limited. Equally, sometimes the client is happy that they are sufficiently knowledgeable about their consumer base, and their current offering is accessible enough. If this is the case we will, like in all projects, continue to follow our inclusive design methodologies and imbed some exercises into the project.

Chris @ ADLIB: What are 2-3 tips you’d share to other designers trying to design more inclusively?

Brodie: 1 – Organisations can be concerned that changing a product or service to improve access we will ‘lose’ some other quality. Establish ‘what do we think we are protecting’ and is this based on assumptions/ biases? Having this conversation can unlock the inclusive design stream of a project and result in a much better outcome.

2 – Involve real communities in the process. This is mentioned a lot but is so important.

It’s twofold:

Try to connect with a diverse group of people who accurately represent the potential user groups. Including some exceptional people will really help, as, if the design works for them, it is more likely to work for the wider audience. Building a diverse panel of participants can be challenging, but connecting with charities is often a good place to start.

Secondly, design ‘with’ (or even ‘by’) and not ‘for’. Engage with the communities you are seeking to reach, don’t just study them but integrate them as part of the decision-making process at multiple milestones, for example, during initial concept development, and after a prototype iteration. Our own biases will always be prevalent in our interpretation of others experience, so remove this by going directly to those with lived experience.

Chris @ ADLIB: What are some of the resources you’ve found helpful to develop your understanding accessibility and inclusion when it comes to you design work?

Brodie: Mismatch by Kate Holmes is a great book. Cambridge University has a very interesting exclusion calculator tool, and The Inclusive Design Guide is full of useful information.

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Chris Nasrawi