Embracing Diversity with Inclusive Design



Embracing Diversity with Inclusive Design

Designing with sensitivity towards diverse gender identities and sexual orientations is a commitment to creating a more inclusive world. Just as we explored in our article on how to adopt an inclusive design mindset, addressing diversity requires a proactive approach from the very beginning. Let’s dive into practical tips and practices for integrating gender and LGBT perspectives into your design process to make sure that your work celebrates diversity and fosters inclusion.

Incorporating gender and LGBT+ perspectives in design means that you recognize and value all users. Gender and sexual orientation are integral aspects of a person's identity, and inclusive design should reflect this complexity. Going beyond binary gender ideas and recognizing all identities is key to creating truly inclusive experiences.

How to create gender and LGBT+ inclusive designs

Creating designs that are truly inclusive of gender and LGBT+ perspectives involves thoughtful and intentional practices. By focusing on key aspects such as color use, language, and representation, we can ensure our designs not only avoid common pitfalls but actively celebrate diversity. Let’s explore how to integrate these elements effectively to foster an environment of inclusivity and respect.

Thoughtful use of color and symbols (no clichés allowed!)

Colors and symbols are powerful communicators of inclusivity. Incorporating elements from the rainbow flag or other LGBT+ symbols can signal support and recognition. However, it’s essential to avoid clichés and stereotypes. Aim for subtlety and respect, ensuring that your designs are welcoming to all without resorting to tokenism.

Inclusive and respectful language

Language shapes our perceptions and experiences. Using gender-neutral language and avoiding assumptions about users' identities are fundamental steps. Replace gender-specific terms with neutral ones, and ensure that your copy reflects respect for all orientations and identities. This not only promotes inclusivity but also enhances user comfort and engagement.

Authentic representation in visuals

Including characters and scenarios that reflect a diverse range of gender identities and sexual orientations can make users feel seen and valued. Ensure that this representation is authentic and respectful, avoiding stereotypes and embracing the richness of diversity.

Engage with the community for authentic insights

When it comes to designing inclusively, direct engagement with LGBT+ communities is crucial. By actively involving these communities in the design process, we gain authentic insights that shape products and services to better meet their needs. Conducting user research with a diverse range of participants allows us to understand their unique experiences and challenges. This makes our designs reflect real-world diversity while also fostering a sense of ownership and inclusivity among users.

We must have a commitment to learning about the lived experiences of those we are designing for.

Common mistakes to avoid when designing for everyone

As we said, designing with sensitivity to stereotypes is paramount. Stereotypes perpetuate harmful narratives and can alienate individuals within gender and LGBT+ communities. By understanding the nuances and diversity within these communities, we can create designs that are respectful and affirming. This requires ongoing education and a commitment to learning about the lived experiences of those we are designing for.

On the other hand, tokenistic gestures, while well-intentioned, often fall short of addressing the complex needs of diverse communities. Instead, we aim to integrate these perspectives meaningfully into our design process, ensuring that all users feel genuinely represented and included.

Finally, we must be open to feedback and ready to adapt our designs to better serve all users. Through a culture of continuous learning and improvement, we can create designs that truly embrace diversity and foster inclusion.


Inclusive Design (2022). Alita Joyce for Nielsen Norman Group

Media Reference Guide - LGBTQ Terms (2020). GLAAD.

How Inclusive Design Benefits Gender and Sexual Diversity (2023). UX Planet.

Designing for Diversity and The Imperative of Inclusive Product Design (2023). Rich Grosskettler for Medium.

Pride by Design (2019). Alicia Crowther for Medium.


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