How can you sell more ice cream?

packshots of ice cream and detergent and the increase in salesThe answer is simple: improve the design of your packages and images to make them more inclusive. But it seems corporates are slow to change their approaches to design, instead preferring to stay with “tried and true” methods. The Inclusive Design Team at the University of Cambridge has been working on this issue for 15 years. They have come up with a three key components that help persuade businesses to think about their product and label designs from a different perspective. The title of the paper is, “Using Inclusive Design to Drive Usability Improvements Through to Implementation”. The article can be found on ResearchGate.  or a book chapter in Breaking Down Barriers, a SpringerLink publication. The image shows the rise in sales after changing the pack-shot with Mini-Magnums increasing by 24%.

Abstract: There are compelling reasons to improve usability and make designs more inclusive, but it can be a challenge to implement these changes in a corporate environment. This paper presents some ways to address this in practice based on over 15 years experience of inclusive design work with businesses. It suggests that a successful persuasive case can be built with three key components: a proof-of-concept prototype, an experience that enables the stakeholders to engage personally with the issues and quantitative evidence demonstrating the impact of a potential change. These components are illustrated in this paper using a case study that was conducted with Unilever to improve the images used in e-commerce. The ice cream brand, Magnum is one of Unilever’s billion-dollar brands that implemented these changes. During an 8-week live trial, comparing the old and new images, the new images experienced a sales increase of 24%.


Designing a UD manual with UD

A young man stands between library book shelves. He has a large book open in his hands.Is it possible to create a Universal Design manual for architecture students that actually works? Short answer is yes, but it needs more work. A workshop was conducted during UDweek in Hasselt in Belgium to test and evaluate a manual. It seems the graphics and visual presentation worked well, but short guidelines were perceived to be too prescriptive. The different ways students prefer to access information wasn’t well catered for either. The article, Evaluating a Proposed Design-for-All (DfA) Manual for Architecture, is available from SpringerLink, or you can find most of it as a book chapter in Google Books. The full book is Advances in Design for Inclusion.  Note that they are using the European translation of universal design – design-for-all, even though the week was named UDWeek.

Abstract: This paper outlines the evaluation of a print-based Design for All (DfA) manual. The purpose was to understand if and how a DfA manual can be used as a tool to inspire students (future architects) in designing an inclusive project to transform theory into practice. The DfA manual has been used and tested during a workshop that took place at the UDweek 2016 in Hasselt, Belgium. Our results show that the manual was favorably received, particularly in the areas of the manual’s visual presentation. Conversely, short guidelines, as mean to transfer knowledge, was perceived as too prescriptive. Furthermore, more information to generate insights on users’ needs are required and the static format of the manual can’t satisfy the different ways students prefer to access information. The research provides interesting criteria on how to create a more relevant and useable DfA manual; however, further studies are required to elaborate upon these. 


Maps in shades of grey

A wheel of all the colours of the rainbowWhat does a map look like if you have a colour-blindness condition? Colour Vison Deficiency (CVD) is more common than most people think, and it’s not just red and green. Where colour is used to provide information, some people can be left confused. Directional maps, such as street maps for example, use colour to indicate train stations and heritage sites. Geographical maps use colour to show height of land, temperature, and to separate land from water. Many of these are age-old conventions that designers follow. So how do you know what colours are best to use? The Colblinder website give examples of what geographic maps look like to people with CVD. It also has links to other references and a colour blindness simulation tool. Although this is about maps, it can also apply to websites and printed documents, such as guidelines, and manuals where pictures and graphics are used to inform and instruct.

For the latest research on this topic Anne Kristin Kvitle’s article is worth a read. The article is titled, “Accessible maps for the color vision deficient observers: past and present knowledge and future possibilities”. Here is the abstract:

“Color is one of the most difficult cartographic elements to use, as it easily draws attention away from the data and goals for the map when it is used poorly (Krygier and Wood 2011). It is also the one cartographic element that is most frequent misused. Some conventions are choosing colors that have a similarity to real life objects, like green and blue to represent land and water. Other conventions are to use strong colors to emphasize important objects, like the use of red to represent highways or cities. One major contribution to the art of cartography is the development of the visual variables proposed by Jacques Bertin (Bertin 1983). These graphic elements (i.e. position, size, color, orientation, shape, value, texture) were designed to utilize graphic information representation, and have been adapted as a language of cartography. 


Web guidelines don’t cover everything

one hand is holding a smart phone and the other is pointing at the screenA nicely written and easy to read article on the Axess Lab website explains that the WCAG – the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines were only updated to include vision impairments and assistive technologies. But what about hand control? Motor impairments were not included, but this doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Uusing a smart phone can be very frustrating when bumping to a page that’s not wanted and having to get back again – frustrating for anyone, but more so when it happens all the time. Axess Lab have provided some simple design solutions. See the article for more and for more about WCAG. Axess Lab lives the message and has a really clean site with easy language – a good example for others. Lots of resources here.  


Do it yourself housing design

A webpage showing the navigation toolMy Home Space is an interactive online tool that takes you through the design details of all parts of the home including spatial requirements. The website has a video explaining how to use the guide. The tool is enhanced by references to assistive technology. The information in the tool takes the form of “things to consider” and is provided in the context of the NDIS. However, some of the design tips are useful for most homes. There is a companion paper, Government perspectives on housing, technology and support design within Australia’s National Disability Strategy that explains the background and the methodology for developing this tool. This is the work of Libby Callaway and Kate Tregloan from Monash University who will be speaking at the upcoming Australian Universal Design Conference 4-5 September 2018. 


How many people have you left out?

Front cover of the book showing shampoo and conditioner bottles, one black and one white.The Inclusive Design Toolkit’s new online Exclusion Calculator enables better assessment for vision and dexterity. Also included in the Calculator are separate assessments for dominant hands and non-dominant hands in addition to vision, hearing, thinking and mobility. These enhancements build on the original Inclusive Design Toolkit, which was developed ten years ago and can be downloaded as a PDF. The upgrade takes designers through assessing the demands that a task, product or service places on a range of users. If you want to access the advanced version you will need to a licence. Years of research have gone into this tool. You can find out more about the research team and the calculator on their Home Page which has links to several other sections.  


Soccer from a deaf-blind perspective

Five football players stand waiting for play to start. Three are dressed in red and blue, two in white and the goalkeeper in black. The grass is very greenWith the FIFA World Cup approaching, the report of a case study from Canada of a deaf-blind person enjoying a soccer match is timely. Using an iterative user testing process a system was developed for sighted spectators to use to interpret the game from a visual to a tactile modality. This research will go a long way towards describing games where spatial relations are key to the experience. The title of the article is, Inclusive Design as a Source of Innovation: A Case Study & Prototype on Soccer Spectatorship, by Felipe Sarmiento. You can access a copy of the article from the Secured tab and sending an email request to OCAD University Open Research Repository for a PDF copy.  


Co-designing bathrooms with older people

Public toilet in Kawakawa New Zealand. It has large mosaic tiles all at different angles. The toilet seat is timberHow do you know what older people want in their bathroom design? Simple. Ask them. And have lots of Post It Notes handy. That’s the basis of co-design. Having a more flexible and safer bathroom at home is one of the keys to ageing in place. Knowing “what’s best” is not necessarily in the hands of design experts or health professionals. The Livable Bathrooms for Older People Project investigated and evaluated all aspects of bathroom design, fixtures and fittings. The report spells out in great detail how the project was conducted, including the role of participants in the process, and the outcomes of the research. There are many explanatory pictures demonstrating the process.The report is available on ResearchGate or can be purchased from Google Books.

The Co-Design research was carried out by Associate Professor Oya Demirbilek, the Co-Design Sessions Lead Investigator with assistance from PhD Students Alicia Mintzes, Steve Davey and Peter Sweatman. University of New South Wales. 2015.

Note: The picture is of the renowned public toilet in Kawakawa New Zealand. It would be very confusing for someone with perception issues.  Editor’s photo.


Google spells out accessible, inclusive, usable

A woman stands on a stage with a woman sitting behind her. She is making a presentation to an audienceIt would be good if all designers took their lead from the likes of Apple and Google: inclusion, accessibility and usabilty are about the design process. Apart from clearly explaining how these terms are linked and can be used together, Google’s half hour video also has some tips and tools for designers. It shows how three different users have the same need: a man with a mobility disability (permanent), a boy with a broken arm (temporary) and a woman with an armful of shopping (situational). Individual situations might be different but they all have the same need for accessibility. And people have the same goals they want to achieve regardless of their situation. While this instructional presentation is aimed at an audience interested in designing apps, particularly the second half of the video, the messages in the first half can be applied to other design disciplines. 


A beer and a packet of chips

Large packets of chips are standing in a line on a benchA simple pleasure for most, but if you can’t open the chip pack then not so pleasurable. This is a problem for more people than you might think. An article in the Inclusive Design Toolkit Bulletin explains how a student redesigned the chip packet for easier opening. Around 10 million people have arthritis in the UK, and over 10 million chip packets are consumed each week, so student Thomas Woodburn decided to redesign the packaging considering the needs of this user group. He found that many people with arthritis use scissors to open the typical seal used in packaging. While wearing the Cambridge Simulation Gloves, Thomas experienced great difficulty trying to ‘pinch and pull’ to open chip packaging. He designed a corrugated fibreboard pack that opens with a small amount of force applied to the lid, using a mechanism for the lid that folds out three-dimensionally and enables the fingers to remain in a natural position. You can see similar articles in Issue 4 of the Bulletin. There is more good material on the Inclusive Design Toolkit site.