The gravest mistake among UX designers (and companies hiring them) is to think about an average target user as the ultimate goal of their design. In reality, apps are rarely used the way they’re supposed to. All people are unique, so they apply different logic and try to use apps in various ways, sometimes totally unthinkable for product designers.
So, how can you ensure that your app remains universally usable and complies with the customers’ needs and functional expectations? The approach that talented SaaS product designers use to this dilemma is inclusive design – a method covering all extremes and incorporating the nuances of people’s app use patterns into UX design solutions.
It would be wrong to think that inclusive design is irrelevant to your product, as you target the majority. People come across different emergencies daily and use apps in various contexts, so there is always a certain degree of unpredictability and deviation from the norm. Besides, you can add the growing number of users with permanent or temporary disabilities to the list, thus getting a vast audience potentially interested in your product (if it’s inclusive enough).
So, let’s cover the essentials of the inclusive design approach to see how a slight change in the UX design mindset can get you a much more advantageous market position.
Why Is SaaS Design Unique?
The first thing to realize is that SaaS products differ from regular digital products in many ways.
- ROI = Retention
Most SaaS products are subscription-based, so businesses are interested in retaining customers as long as possible. Counter to a one-time license purchase, SaaS software is paid for on a recurrent basis, and the longer your users stay with you, the higher revenue your company gets.
- No Finality
SaaS products are more flexible in terms of changes and updates, so they can be easily upgraded with the latest user feedback and analytics in mind. There is no final version to which users stick; SaaS design is an ongoing process.
- Big Data and Analytics
SaaS design can be informed by real-time analytics of how users behave in the app and how they assess new features. This benefit is powered by the apps’ existence in the cloud, making offline use cumbersome.
- Contextual Aid
The cloud-based operation of SaaS apps makes it possible for users to seek help and support in real-time without the need to contact support via emails or hotlines. Thus, they are ensured a better in-app UX.
Inclusive UX Design Tips from Pros
As you can see, SaaS products are pretty much different from the other digital software you can use. Thus, inclusive design of SaaS apps is a distinct field of designer interest. Here are some tips to get you closer to stellar inclusive UX design.
Think Like a Customer with Disabilities
The starting point of inclusive UX design is to approach the existing design prototype from a perspective of a person with permanent, temporary, or situational disabilities. The design might look okay at first glance, but will it remain successful under closer scrutiny? Ask the following questions and be honest in answering them:
- Is the app easily navigable with one hand?
- Can a deaf user access the app’s functionality?
- Can a blind user make use of this app?
- Is the color palette comfortable for people with visual impairments or headaches?
Even if you think these use cases are rare exceptions, you’ll be startled to find out how many users access your app with situational limitations. For instance, your app shouldn’t necessarily be popular among deaf people, but a person in a loud, crowded room should be able to access the voice information.
Another example: there are not that many one-handed people across the globe, but what about a person with a heavy bag or a baby in one hand? These use cases are much more frequent, so making your UX design inclusive is a win-win situation for you and thousands of people, whether disabled or not.
Talk to a UX Designer with Disabilities
What can be more informative than a disabled person’s feedback based on hands-on experience? That’s what a UX designer with disabilities can offer: a unique perspective on how inclusive your design is. A person who uses your app differently from what you initially expected can give valuable observations about the pros and cons of the current design, the bottlenecks they came across, and the solutions they see fit for this issue.
Anticipate Use Cases Instead of Reacting to Them
Responding to user complaints and problems is a good method of staying in touch with your clientele. But it can be too late, as the client is already dissatisfied. A better variant is to anticipate use cases and incorporate at least three ways of doing things in your app. This way, you will make the app universally usable and show that you’ve taken care of user comfort in advance.
Don’t Be Biased
Again, returning to the first point, you should think about various situations in which people might be restricted in their functionality to use your app. Disabilities can be permanent or temporary, e.g., a person can have one arm or experience an arm injury, which impairs their use of an app with two hands. Another example is permanent blindness or a temporary cataract, which can cause visual restrictions in the app’s use. However, the non-standard use of apps stretches far beyond these disabilities. For example, a young baby’s parent also has only one working hand most of the time, and a person driving a car cannot view the visual data on your app, preferring the voice prompts.
Test Your Decisions
Whenever you opt for inclusive design and think you know what your users need, it’s always wise to ask them for feedback. After all, you’re designing for users, so why not ask whether they like your decisions and find them convenient? Feedback may form the basis for final tweaks in the UX design, guaranteeing that your app will be indeed usable in all contexts.
Inclusivity Is the New Normal
Inclusivity helps you communicate the user-centered approach of your company to users. Practice shows that people stay with brands that understand the nuances of their use cases – those who can walk in the customers’ shoes and take into account all possibilities and emergencies. Thus, you can never go wrong with inclusive design; it’s your unique way of showing respect for people and allowing them a wide range of use scenarios.