“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
To build truly effective applications, one must consider the user—who they are, what are their abilities, needs, goals, etc. When designing or developing applications, we rarely set out to exclude or alienate our users intentionally, but often our assumptions about who we’re building for can limit the effectiveness of the resulting application.
To make an inclusive technology as good as it can be, application developers and designers need to include a diversity of perspectives and experiences. Failing to do so can result in a sub-par application or product. One well-known example of this comes from YouTube. When YouTube launched its iOS app video upload feature, 10 percent of the initial videos were uploaded upside-down. They never considered that most of the team members were right-handed and that phones are usually rotated 180 degrees when held in a user’s left hand. They inadvertently designed the app for right-handed users only.
But it’s rarely feasible to interview every specific user or to consider every single form your solution could take. In reality, you’re faced with tight deadlines and limited resources. So how do you design and build for everyone?
In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., we put this question to the Salesforce builder community, and here are some of their suggestions.
Inclusive apps are comfortable apps.
The first suggestion comes from Eric Dreshfield. Eric is a Salesforce MVP Hall of Famer, the founder of Midwest Dreamin', and a Salesforce mentor and community advocate. He has worked on Salesforce projects across multiple industries including transportation, retail, life sciences and more, and in each project, his goal is to bridge the gap between technology and the people who rely on it. For him, comfort and inclusivity go hand in hand to create a better end product. Inclusivity shouldn’t just be considered in the UI but should be implemented in all areas of the product.
“You hear the term ‘customer- first company’ a lot these days. But what does that really mean? If a company truly puts their customers first, they will develop their product in a way that everyone can use comfortably. This means that an inclusive product is developed addressing accessibility standards across a wide range of devices. An inclusive product would also be developed with localization including not only the UI, but all help documents & educational materials in the end users preferred language. The ultimate goal of any product company should be to make their customer the hero, and you just can't do that without focusing on creating an inclusive product from the ground up.”
- Eric Dreshfield, Partner Marketing Manager at ActiveCampaign, Aka the ‘Kevin Bacon’ of the Salesforce Ecosystem
Inclusivity and accessibility go hand in hand.
Our second insight comes from Mohith Shrivastava. Mohith is a certified Salesforce system and application architect, a Salesforce MVP, and the Lead Developer Advocate at Salesforce. With over a decade of consulting experience in configuration of Salesforce and development of enterprise and ISV applications on Salesforce, he believes inclusive technology requires accessibility.
“To be inclusive, make sure to make your app accessible. Automate accessibility tests to catch any UI design/code that does not work on screen readers and other cognitive devices. Also, make sure to keep labels used in the app to be inclusive. For example, avoid words like ‘master’, ‘Slave’, ‘whitelist’, or ‘blacklist.’ ”
- Mohith Shrivastava, Salesforce
Empathy, curiosity, and humility go a long way.
Our third thought comes from Karmon French, UI/ UX/ brand designer and illustrator. She has a decade of experience working with teams to both design and guide products. She combines branding practices with digital user experiences to produce better products for users. For Karmon, empathy and curiosity are prerequisites to inclusivity, and she believes that if at first you don’t succeed, try again.
“We set out into each project with a defined set of tools and processes, so we should approach inclusive design the same way.
At this point, inclusivity in design should be part and parcel of user experience design——as a standardized part of our process. Can we as a team, stay curious and open; questioning homogeneity in our work (considering this on both a team and even at the user testing level)?
Empathy for others, and understanding that "we are not our user" is one of the first tenants of designing user experiences. Knowing we may not get it right the first time, but having the willingness to own up to mistakes, learn, iterate, and try again should not only be second nature but something we constantly work toward.”
-Karmon French, Skuid, Inc.
Ultimately, inclusive design and development results in better applications. For more information about inclusive design, check out the resources below.
For more information on inclusive design, we recommend these articles:
For more tips and ideas on how you can improve your user experience and build better apps, check out our eBook Five best practices for accelerating Salesforce app development and improving user experience.
Digital Content Producer