Re-Defining Gender Roles in Design

A more inclusive and less biased design process.

  –  Jun, 28 2021

As a company we have been always seeking to improve respect and inclusion in the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans people and other members of sexual minorities including intersex, asexual and gender non-binary people. And rather than being developed as isolated actions, diversity and inclusion policies are part of our Agency’s structure, strategy and corporate mission.

And this becomes particularly relevant in our activity as designers, whose work will shape some of the norms and trends of society, because in consequence we will deliver more inclusive products and experiences to the world.

But these are all big words , now let’s zoom in to see the resulting effect of working on gender-neutrality in the design process. The Nacar multidisciplinary team explored 5 small things we could do today in order to design better digital and physical products and experiences for everyone. Small victories to build change.

Check them out below:

The role of gender is shifting and maybe it’s time to stop designing for men and women, but instead design for everyone. Nacar’s brand’s values are mold breaking, then a gender-neutral is the right path to take.

1. Consider the broad spectrum of users

A product’s userbase includes people of all backgrounds, demographics, needs and circumstances. As a designer it’s important to be inclusive since the very first research phase of a project and have one core goal in mind: designing for everyone. We are advocates of the user, empathising with their unique circumstances and needs and giving them a voice.

At the moment in which the spectrum of users or user personas is determined, we need to widen the bias and remember that gender is not an aspect to take into account. The ultimate goal of an inclusive design should be to solve the problem for as many people as possible, so that everybody can participate and gather a wide spectrum of human experience.

To elevate this practice, the ideal would be to scale it to the level of making it either a requirement with the client when establishing study participants, or removing the gender bias in any phase of the Design Process to create an inclusive user-centered solution.

It’s important to build from a foundation of inclusivity, empathy, and focus. Avoid introducing unnecessary stereotypes to your next project.

`The sense of belonging’, a Conversation about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by Krys Burnette

2. eCommerce focused on the consumer

Specifying a gender in the product search is meant to provide this information for potential customers that help them narrow their search. This raises an interesting problem because the item gender tagging depends on the user gender tagging. Regardless of race or gender, we can all wear or buy whatever we want.
So for this, we propose an eCommerce where we dispense with the default filter for the clients and show recommendations of the relevant items instead. Thus we help improve the inferences about the gender preferences of users.

3. Aesthetic that avoids gender cues

Gadgets and electronic devices seem to be primarily targeted towards men and appeal to men, or else, they are purple for the women’s version. There are many details that make a product masculine or feminine: colours, materials, shapes, patterns, etc.
It is important to identify and understand these gender markers so that we can design products in ways that expand the range of gender identities available in the world without undermining the product’s appeal to the mainstream. Briefly: add creativity and diversity to the products without limiting them to a single audience.
With the HP DesignJet Studio printer we achieved a genderless aesthetic by focusing only on its functionality, blending the technology into the workspace and accesible for everybody.

Some of the elements we highlight below are key to genderless design and also work well when making a product timeless, elegant, and sophisticated.

4. Imagery to appeal to everyone

It’s important to capture the reality that surrounds us in our visual code. For this, let’s scape the mould that is defined with images of slim, white, cisgender individuals, for example, with images of people with different body shapes, sizes, disabilities, ethnicities, cultures and non-conforming genders. We need to discourage the use of images of these communities based solely on their gender identities.

5. Remove gender bias in iconography

There are many aspects of design that lead to a stereotyped result. An icon can contribute to that. Straight, sharp edges are often masculine whereas smooth, curved lines are more feminine. So, what’s the middle point for a genderless icon design?
The Graphic Design team has been working on finding the answer to this question while rethinking the classic public bathroom icons. The solution goes from representing a genderless person, to redefining what should the sign show. What about dividing by time spent inside the restroom?

How do we apply all this at Nacar?

As you can see, small details can make a huge impact and we accidentally tend to define design concepts and ideas with certain individuals and communities who are part of the average and ordinary. Gender norms are cultural constructs that define ways to be a “regular” man or woman. But everybody else is out of the prism. When we design, we sometimes idealize models of gendered “users” as men, women, boys, girls, or the “average user” who is usually a male adult.

We all have gaps in our personal knowledge or experience that leave us insensitive to the kinds of exclusion other people face on a daily basis. So for those of us who fall into the majority, we can close these gaps by actively listening and learning from those whose experiences differ from our own.

So having a corporate strategy and culture set that rolls out into diverse teams across the Agency’s organization, and work on reducing gender-bias on the initial phases of the design process -when conducting user research and defining user experience- are the fundamental building blocks we need to move forward in order to create an inclusive world where minorities feel included and celebrated.

We need to frequently ask ourselves: “Are we sure our solution is inclusive?” And invite different perspectives.

By Nacar team

Special thanks to:

Sofia Larocca

Communication Manager

Sofia is a social media and Communication passionate about storytelling and targeted messaging to create business-changing content that uncover, create and amplify brand stories.

Danae Gómez Lois

Design Strategist

Danae is a Design Strategist at Nacar. Her areas of expertise are developed around Brand and Business Strategy with a strong focus on Methodologies of Innovation.

Carla Vives

Graphic Designer

Carla is an organized and multidisciplinary Graphic Designer. She seeks to adapt to every brief, choosing the style that best fits on each occasion. She believes a good design is made using the least possible elements.

Paula Pérez

UX Designer

Paula is an UX/ UI designer at Nacar, with experience in Industrial Design Engineering. Her creativity, energy and passion for innovation made her boost her career into the tech world.

Borja Regueiro

UX-UI Designer

Borja is an industrial designer focused on digital design. He has the ability to mesh physical products with digital ones.

Jon Ander Soto

Graphic Designer

Ander is a Senior Graphic Designer graduated at EINA in Barcelona. Passionate about Music & Design with 12 years of experience in branding, editorial & advertisement.

Eugeni Vila

UX-UI Designer

Eugeni is a UX/UI designer at Nacar with more than 10 years of experience. He tries to make a difference in any product to step forward between creativity and functionality, especially when these designs are based on data.

Sante Capobianco

Industrial Designer

Sante is an Industrial Designer with 3+ years of experience. Has worked in the European market in different fields. He is able to manage the conceptualization of ideas from beginning to end.

Chus Margallo

UX-UI Designer

Chus is an art director and designer wih more than ten years of experience creating digital products. He has worked with advertising agencies, corporations and startups in Madrid, Amsterdam and Barcelona.

Magda Piqué

UI Designer

Magda is UI designer at Nacar. She graduated from Elisava School of Design and she has worked for branding and ad agencies. Also, she has worked freelance. She loves motion and interaction design.

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