This week was the end-of-term exhibition at the TU/e (for a good view of the poster and card set, I recommend this post). Normally, the exhibition marks the end of a project as well, but since this is my graduation project, I get to carry on for one more semester after this. Yey!
My assessor is Frank Delbressine, we spoke at the exhibition. He had some great feedback, such as how to deal with the fact that the user groups that are mentioned on the poster, are not homogenous. For example ‘elderly’: there are 65 plussers who helped create the internet, and there are 80 year old grandma’s who have difficulty operating a mobile phone. And there are 85 year old grandmas who are hackers and can code better than you.
This is exactly why it is so important to not give general guidelines á la ‘do this and your product is suitable for eldery’. It is more useful to first find out who your actual users are, and then interact with them in person, so you can empathize with them. This empathy will help making design decisions for your user group easier, with better interactive products as a result.
Another question raised by my assessor was: How do you quantify the effect of involving the end-users? How can you prove that products are ‘better’ for it, and how do you define ‘better’? These are issues that go to the core of the matter, namely, the reason why currently, small IT companies are not typically doing a lot of user research, and why some interactive products are inaccessible or difficult to use for non-average users.
I cannot say I have all the answers to this question (yet). Is it about a lack of awareness? Or is there really no business advantage to practicing Inclusive Design? I will work to find out in the next stage of the project. Stay tuned (and subscribe, by putting your email address in the box on the right)!