Benjamin Evans, Inclusive Design Lead for Airbnb, is part of a new kind of problem solvers tackling issues like racism, sexism, and bias in digital product design. In this episode of the Design Better Podcast, Eli Woolery and Aarron Walter chat with Benjamin about the power of inclusive design, using techniques like design thinking, research, and storytelling to ensure a more inclusive experience for all your users.
The Power of Inclusive Design
I’ve posted about another talk by Benjamin at IxDA‘s Interaction’20, and since then I’ve been following him up closely. He comes from a very interesting background, starting with his formal acting training.
It was interesting to hear that he didn’t like the applause: what he liked was the process of “understanding how to become someone else”. Consequently, designers and actors have a lot of common in the sense that both have to develop strong empathy muscles in order to understand what motivates other people.
Firstly, I’ve been interested in that connection between Interaction Design and Theatre since I read Computers as Theater, by Brenda Laurel (who I had the privilege the meet during the Interaction Awards 2016).
Secondly, Brenda’s work had a huge impact in the approach I take in my profession. Her insight was that effective interface design, like effective drama, must engage the user directly in an experience involving both thought and emotion.
More importantly, it was also interesting to hear about — as design teams become more diverse — how hard it becomes to arrive at consensus, which is something I’ve been speaking about in conferences (most recently at UXNow).
I’ve been coaching teams and leaders to help them become more aware of how the cultural make up of of their own organisation teams can provide interesing insights on tensions like consensual versus top-down decision making, or task-based version relationship-based trust building.
About Benjamin Evans
Benjamin Earl Evans is a inclusive design lead – a new generation of problem solvers tackling issues like racism, sexism and bias. He uses Design Thinking to help everyone – from creative professionals to business leaders – create more inclusive products and services. Currently, he works as design lead for Airbnb’s anti discrimination team.
Laurel, B. (2013). Computers as Theatre (2nd edition). Boston, MA: Addison Wesley Professional.
Meyer, E. (2014). The culture map: Breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.