Kat Holmes, right, founder of the digital magazine Mismatch.design, in a photo shoot with Mismatch contributors Tiffany Brown and John Porter. (Mismatch.design Photo)
Kat Holmes became aware of inclusive design when working a few years back on Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant.
She was part of a perfectly talented team of engineers and designers, but at some point they realized that there was a serious issue with their group. None had ever been a personal assistant and lacked needed insights for building an electronic version of one. They consulted folks with firsthand experience, but then hit another stumbling block. They were building a device that relied on voice interactions, but didn’t have anyone at the table who regularly used speech tools — perhaps due to limited vision or typing challenges — to understand how those users engaged with the technology.
Kat Holmes, director of UX Design at Google. (Photo courtesy of Kat Holmes)
“That ‘aha moment’ flipped the way I thought about expertise,” said Holmes.
This new awareness so captivated Holmes that she was principal director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft until last year, and recently took the role of director of UX Design at Google. Later this month she is releasing a book called “Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design,” which includes a plug from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Holmes is also speaking at the GeekWire Summit in October.
The concept of inclusive design is actually pretty straightforward, though it can get confused with universal design and accessibility; the issues are related but not the same. And in some ways, it’s also fairly straightforward to implement.
“Inclusive design is a method for designing products that considers the full range of human diversity,” Holmes said. “The most important aspect is including people in the design process who have been excluded from using a particular category …read more