Bridging connections and fostering inclusivity: Figma’s coffee morning

June 19, 2024
James Carr
Figma Coffee Morning Panel
In an enlightening session hosted at the WPP Manchester Campus, Figma, in collaboration with Code, brought together industry professionals for a coffee morning that was as stimulating as the caffeine that fuelled it.

Coffee and Human Connections

The event, centred around inclusive design, discussed many important themes including accessibility and lived experiences, as well as embedding inclusivity within culture and creating business cases for inclusive design. Offering a plethora of insights, the morning explored how digital design is evolving to meet the needs of a diverse global audience, and was hosted by an incredible panel consisting of:

James Norris, UKI Regional Marketing Lead at Figma

Ashley Kay, Group Head of Design & Digital Transformation at Bupa Technology

Lee Jeffery, UX Team Lead at Sage

Tahira Resalat, Product Designer at Kooth Digital Health

Figma raised the energy levels further with a fantastic spread of biscoffee, kinderella, raspberry jam, chocolate ganache and vanilla custard donuts supplied by the tasty creators over at Gooey.

Connections and Inclusive Insights

Here are the main discussions and key takeaways from the session:

Community Engagement and Collaboration

The panel opened by recognising the critical role communities play in uniting UX and design professionals. Highlighting the importance of diverse talent, the discussion underscored how innovation and knowledge sharing are propelled by fostering a collaborative environment.

Inclusivity in Design

The conversations then kicked off. James Norris opened by posing the question on what inclusivity meant in the context of design. Lee Jeffery encapsulated his view, stating: “Inclusivity is how you look at things which go beyond accessibility. It can cover aspects such as mental health, race, gender, equity, and designing for everyone.”

The discussion also emphasised the importance of building inclusive cultures, design teams, and equity in design. Panellists shared strategies for engaging with diverse groups during the design process and the impact of diverse teams on product development.

Ashley Kay highlighted his three pillars to enable truly inclusive design: “Build an inclusive culture, build inclusive design teams, and you will start to build equity in design. For the products you're building, speaking to the right people, doing the right inclusive research, and then building the teams that will have that diversity impacts the final result.”

Lee Jeffery later expressed the importance of advocacy, explaining how organisations benefit: "[We..] Create an accessibility champions network that helps to build bottom-up and a top-down culture at all levels.”

Empathy and Lived Experiences

Panellists stressed the role of empathy and understanding lived experiences in achieving true inclusivity. They shared how personal experiences and a deep understanding of users' backgrounds and challenges were crucial for designing inclusive products and services.

Tahira Resalat commented: “You need to have empathy to design inclusively. This empathy comes from learning about a person's lived experience(s), creating a welcoming space to discuss those experiences and understanding how they differ from the majority.”

In practical terms, this translates into doing adequate user research and utilising a design-thinking approach. This ensures that businesses understand and meet the needs of diverse user groups.

Building Inclusive Teams and Cultures

The conversation progressed onto the importance of creating inclusive design teams and workplace cultures. This included fostering an environment where diverse perspectives were valued and where there was an emphasis on education and learning about inclusivity.

James Norris stated: “I think it's fair to say that true inclusivity requires a lot of change in a business and change requires investment in resources, investment in time, and investment in money… So often we frame it as the moral requirement, the commercial requirement and the legal requirement.”. This leads nicely to why it is important to create a business case for inclusivity.

A Business Case for Inclusivity

Being inclusive is not only the right thing to do morally but also presents untapped commercial opportunities. Honing the commercial value of inclusivity, James Norris stated:

“I used to work a UX analytics tool and we could see the pounds and pence lost when frustration was caused by a lack of inclusivity or accessibility. There are some clear commercial arguments to be made by looking at the numbers. Even with just disability, there are 1.3 billion disabled people in the world. So by not creating an inclusive experience for these people as a huge market,  it is a considerable missed opportunity and effectively a business risk.”

Inclusivity not only aligns with moral imperatives but also unlocks significant commercial opportunities, as highlighted by panellists who emphasised the importance of C-suite buy-in and the measurable financial benefits of inclusive design.

Panellists also shared the challenges of implementing inclusivity in design and business strategies. Commenting on the journey to how to build a business case for inclusivity, Ashley Kay highlighted the need to work closely with C-suite to get key stakeholder buy in:

“So it's working with product leaders, engineering leaders and also C-suite, getting them on board to understand the value of doing inclusive design. It is about the opportunities of things that haven't been needed or been considered or met yet. This is where I think is the value that the C-suite will listen to more. When you tell them that there is an opportunity for us to take that space and do good stuff there.”

Until Next Time…

The Figma Coffee Morning at WPP Manchester Campus, in collaboration with Code Computerlove, highlighted the importance of industry partnerships, human connections, and inclusive design in shaping the future of digital experiences.

The event not only showcased the potential collaboration between leading digital entities can have, but also reinforced the collective responsibility to create more inclusive and empathetic digital environments.

As the digital world continues to evolve, events like these serve as crucial opportunities for sparking innovation, fostering community, and driving meaningful change.

For those looking to stay at the forefront of accessibility, design and innovation, the insights shared during this event are incredibly valuable, guiding the way toward a more inclusive and connected digital future.

About EM Code

EM Code is a customer experience, digital innovation and AI agency.

We’re a strategic digital partner that delivers breakthrough growth throughout the customer experience (CX).

We achieve this through our industry-renowned services in digital transformation, web development, brand strategy, click rate optimisation (CRO) and UX (user experience).

Our human centric approach underpins every aspect of our work.

A collective of experts in multiple disciplines, we collaborate to distil the complex needs of organisations and end users to engineer solutions that make an impact.

From fast scaling start ups to global brands, we can help you to transform your organisation.

About EssenceMediacom North

EssenceMediacom North helps brands to breakthrough in the new communications economy.

Disrupting models of media, EssenceMediacom North accelerates creative and business transformation for its clients roster, including Hillarys, Absolute Collagen, and United Utilities.

The agency delivers breakthrough growth, capabilities, and revenue through the integration of media, creativity, data and technology, combined with its diverse industry-leading expertise.

Equipped with access to the richest data, robust benchmarking and advanced technologies, EssenceMediacom North unlocks new opportunities to deliver truly integrated media solutions for scaling and global brands.

EssenceMediacom North is part of WPP’s media investment group, GroupM

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