Ask a Radish: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in a Website Redesign

My organization is redesigning our website: How can I integrate my organization’s values of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) into the process and final product?

There are a few different things we recommend any organization consider, when you’re starting to plan for, or going through a website redesign process. 

Build your project team and stakeholders to represent your audience.

When it comes to the project team and decision-makers within your organization, and who you’d like to gather feedback from: These individuals will be critical in shaping the look, feel, and content of your new website. If they’re not representative of those you’re trying to reach, you may miss the mark. Ask yourself: Do the individuals involved in this redesign process reflect the full diversity of our audiences and those we serve?

Think about race, age, geographic location, knowledge of the subject matter, cultural context, and any other key factors that are relevant to the identities of your primary audiences. Think critically about how you can set the project up from the very beginning, to be inclusive and representative of those you serve – and how you can compensate individuals for their time and feedback.

Investigate your design inspiration.

You may select design inspiration, or examples of other websites that inspire you, to inform the visual direction of your new site. As you’re selecting examples, think about: What organization or company is this design affiliated with? What values are represented in these designs? 

If the design or imagery is unfamiliar to you or to your cultural context, consider hiring someone with expertise and lived experience who can guide you through the process. The more information you have about your designs, and what’s informing them, the better positioned you will be to create a website that aligns with your values. It’s more important to create something authentic, than to follow the design trend of the moment.

Prioritize representation, but make sure it’s informed. 

If done well, including images of the individuals with whom you work and/or that represent your audiences can be an important part of helping your website’s visitors feel a sense of understanding and belonging. 

Whether you are creating your own photography or utilizing stock resources, it is  important to ensure that you have the appropriate consent and sourcing permissions for any images you use. Additionally, pay close attention to how you’re using photography in parallel with the other content on the page. What associations someone might make, depending on how that photograph appears within your website: is that placement approved? Ethical? Dignified? Is it reinforcing a stereotype?

If you're using stock photography, ensure that the images represent the correct geography, race and ethnicity, nationality, and other identities that you seek to represent. Don’t approximate, or make assumptions when it comes to representation. 

Follow web accessibility standards.

There are many guidelines about accessibility when it comes to design, that provide clarity on how to make sure your color palette, typography, headings, etc. are accessible to individuals who have color vision deficiency (CVD), low-vision, or blindness, or who rely on assistive technologies. 

We’ve shared more about specific guidance you can follow here, or share with an agency, to ensure your new website will meet the highest technical standards.

Use language as a way to connect, not alienate.

Using organization-specific jargon as well as relying on long-form content raises the barrier of entry for individuals to quickly understand what they need, and means that only a select group of high-knowledge users will be able to connect with you. Think about the preferred languages of your audiences, and how you can build those languages into your new website.

Consider what can be communicated through visuals, and how you can use a hierarchy of information to place the most important information prominently on your website, and include the less important, or higher-knowledge content, lower in the navigation.

Finally, consider explicitly stating your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging on your website. These commitments could include those related to: hiring and staffing, the mission of the organization, the approach to the work, and/or you could include a land acknowledgement pertaining to your organization’s location. 

This of course, is not an exhaustive list, but I hope it helps guide you through. 

You can always reach out to us, if you have questions, or a project in mind. We’d love to hear from you.