Text Link

Why inclusive design must incorporate different learning styles (and best practices for each)

·
July 8, 2021
Blog CTA to explore endless possibilities and contact us

To maximize the impact of a digital product, design teams must examine usability for people of different skill levels and abilities.

Inclusive design has a significant effect on digital learning resources in particular, from knowledge base tools to enrichment activities in schools, and it must include the following factors:

  • Learning type: Auditory, visual, reading/writing, and kinesthetic
  • Device: Touchscreen interfaces like tablets and smartboards, or traditional interfaces like laptops and desktop computers
  • Context: Office setting, classroom, collaborative, independent, etc.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when designing in a digital environment because not everyone absorbs information the same way. We have previously covered accessibility and inclusivity in a broad sense on this blog, but today we'll approach these considerations from the perspective of each of the four learning types - auditory, visual, reading/writing, and kinesthetic - to explain how designers can create more inclusive products. We'll cover the four main learning groups in terms of UX reflections, but Rasmussen provides a thorough rundown if you would like additional background.

When designing for different learning styles, always consider user limitations, disabilities, and contextual use. Incorporating various affordances and UI elements into a product will help it appeal to the broadest user base and have the most significant possible impact. Designers must also study what device provides the best digital product interaction for various learners and how it fits user goals and task completion.

Visual

Also known as spatial learners, visual learners respond to an appealing user interface and content. But who doesn't, right? Designers can create a positive visual experience with high contrast colors that make essential elements pop out, effective use of white space to break up content, the inclusion of bulleted and numbered lists, and liberal use of graphics like images, charts, infographics, and more.

Videos are also a good component for visual learners. But videos must also include subtitles or captions for Deaf users, who also benefit from visual indicators of audio cues and text descriptions for any other graphic elements. It's also important to include signifiers in pairs, like color and texture, to support color-blind users.

Visual learners respond to devices like tablets and smartboards, which provide adequate to large screen size and allow for sketching or drawing with a finger or stylus. Tablets and smartboards are also suitable for presentations and worksheets.

Kinesthetic

Kinesthetic learners, also known as tactile learners, respond to practical experience. This subset does well with interactive activities and when they have space to move around. Like visual learners, kinesthetic learners excel with tablet and smartboard devices because they can stand, pace, and interact with the screen.

These learning methodologies work well for young students who have trouble sitting still in a classroom setting. For an adult in an office setting, a digital product tour is one particular resource that allows for movement within the user interface and also interaction in terms of tooltips and examples that require action.

Auditory

Auditory learners do their best work when the material is augmented with sound. That means audio recordings, sound clips, and narration. Additionally, assistive technology like screen readers convert visual elements like text and images into speech or braille.  

Screen readers are essential for Blind users and improve the user experience for the elderly, people who don't speak English, and those with learning disabilities.

Reading and writing

Reading and writing learners perform well with text content, although they share some similarities with visual learners. UX copywriters are a valuable source of engaging content, with the ability to boost reading comprehension through plain and simple language for specific user groups.

It also takes additional time for reading and writing learners to digest information, so a personal device like a tablet or laptop would allow these users to work at their own pace and avoid feeling rushed.

It's also crucial to provide a way for these learners to write, which might be a touch interface, a laptop or desktop computer with a physical keyboard, or a tablet with a digital keyboard.

For a digital designer, solving a pressing issue is not the end of product development. Creators must design for inclusivity and accessibility so that everyone, regardless of background or disability, has the opportunity to use the latest problem-solving application or tool.

3Digit is a small agile product design shop based outside of Baltimore, MD. We focus on designing user-centered digital products for mobile and web applications, as well as physical prototyping for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs. Our approach relies on research and rapid prototyping to help businesses turn their ideas into reality.