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IT prediction: Neuro-inclusive software design will become synonymous with good design

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series on IT predictions from Google Cloud experts. Check out the full list of our predictions on how IT will change in the coming years. 

Prediction: By 2025, starting with neuro-inclusive design will increase user adoption by 5x in the first 2 years of production

How do you know if your product designs are enjoyable and productive? This stat from the National Institutes of Health offers a clue — they estimate that up to 20% of the world’s population is neurodistinct, with the remaining 80% being neurotypical. Together, these two groups represent the broad spectrum of neurodiversity — the different ways people experience, interpret, and process the world around them, whether they are in school, at work, or interacting with others. 

When you design applications solely for a neurotypical population, you risk marginalizing, or outright excluding, one in five potential users. For example, certain noise, vibrations, and pop ups in interactive or visual features may be fine for neurotypical users, but may be distracting to those who are neurodistinct, hampering their ability to use the application. Practicing neuro-inclusive design, on the other hand, results in applications that are accessible to a wide range of cognitive and sensory styles. 

At Google, we believe that to build for everyone, you have to build with everyone. To help us open our eyes to new ways we can be more inclusive, we’ve made a conscious decision to include all types of thinkers across all phases of development, including ideation, user research, testing, and marketing. And it turns out that neuro-inclusive design is good design — benefiting everyone. For example, closed captioning in Google Meet helps all of us process information better visually, and allows people to participate in meetings where a different language is used. 

To get you started, here are some neuro-inclusive design principles for developers: 

Design with simplicity and clarity.

Remove distractions or extra visualizations like pop-up windows.

Avoid really bright colors or using too much of a single color.

Stick with a predictable and intuitive user flow.

Be thoughtful about the vibe you are setting. Do you need music or sounds to set the tone or is it an extra element that can create distraction?

Stay away from high-pressure interactions that require a quick or immediate reaction.  

For more, check out my talk from Google Cloud Next ‘22 below.

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