Design, specifically UX and UI, lies at the intersection of understanding people, technology and branding. You can’t build effective, easy-to-use products and platforms without connecting with the end-user and understanding their needs, desires and pain points. So, technically, the more diverse a design team is — with regards to gender, race, thought, experiences, abilities and age — the better their work will be.
In some ways, the design industry is diverse — in 2019, about 61 percent of designers were women, according to the AIGA and Google Design Census. In other ways it isn’t — over 70 percent of designers are Caucasian and only 15 percent identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. But overall, to create more inclusive “design education, discourse and practice,” something that’s becoming increasingly important for both clients and customers, companies and agencies need to build more diverse teams. This means finding ways to both recruit and retain more diverse talent. We’ve compiled a few ways for your organization to do that:
1) Recruit Talent from Diverse Sources
Look beyond top schools and companies when hiring designers. Consider searching for talent from community colleges, diverse job boards and industry conferences. Partner with and recruit from design nonprofits that work with underrepresented groups. And throughout the recruitment process, mitigate the effects of unconscious biases by doing blind resume reviews and organizing diverse panels for interviews.
2) Join Virtual Communities
Virtual design communities are becoming increasingly popular, especially with the social isolation that much of the world is experiencing right now. Members of these communities share resources, best practices and job opportunities, participate in and attend workshops and panels and develop professional relationships with each other. Many of these communities can be found on platforms like Slack and Discord, and most are free to join. A few examples are Design Buddies, The Designership and the Junior UX Community (Slack) and the Queer Design Club.
3) Consider Becoming a Mentor
When looking into why many industries (not just design) aren’t as diverse as they should be, one of the main things that comes up is that young professionals from different backgrounds lack the mentorship and support needed to feel comfortable and experience growth. AIGA, Hexagon UX and Designed are just a few organizations that offer professional mentorship programs that you can be part of. Hexagon UX’s program is specifically for female designers and Designed’s has mentors from around the globe.
4) Make Your Designs More Accessible
There’s an entire Web.Page article that dives into designing for accessibility, but whether it’s changing color schemes, fonts and font sizes, site layouts or navigation tools, there are always ways to increase the accessibility of your product, therefore allowing more people to understand and benefit from what you offer. Sites that are difficult for people of different abilities to interact with automatically inhibit the diversity of the of their users.