Wireframe Episode 6: Inclusivity Is a Recipe for Good Design

Here it is, our last episode of the first season of “Wireframe,”” the podcast that tells the stories behind good interaction design. This installment tells the story of the shift from designing for accessibility to designing inclusively. Along the way, it looks at the challenges of tweaking the design of the WordPress interface and how hacking the Xbox game controller opened the door to new gamers. The story actually starts in an unexpected place: the kitchen of Julia Child’s “French Chef” cooking show, which, I was surprised to learn, was the first TV show ever to broadcast captions for the hearing impaired. It all ties together, believe me!

On a personal note, putting together these six episodes (plus our short bonus episode) has been amazing for me. I learned so much. Not just about podcasting, of which I knew very little beforehand, but also about design too. I thought I knew how to talk about what designers do, but the process of translating our ideas, methods and work into relatable, compelling stories was eye-openingly challenging. The language of design is so biased towards those already in the know and aimed pretty much only at other designers while remaining opaque to the uninitiated. Forging these stories showed me how valuable it can be to open up our culture. I’ve heard from so many people who enjoy “Wireframe” who would otherwise never dig into the subject at all. I also heard from so many designers who saw their work in a new light because of the way “Wireframe” helped put it into a broader context. Design doesn’t have to be a niche conversation.

To be clear, I can only claim a fraction of the credit for this. None of these stories would have been possible without the amazing talents of the Gimlet Creative team. They did the heavy lifting, they were the ones who sweated each and every episode, who did the reporting, the interviewing, the editing, the endless revisions and tweaking that brought the show to the level of quality that, I don’t mind saying, outclasses every other design podcast out there. I’m particularly grateful to the core of the team, producers Isabella Kulkarni (who joins me for today’s episode), Rikki Novetsky and Amy Standen, all of whom you hear on various episodes. And especially senior producer Abbie Ruzicka, whom you never hear but who was instrumental in guiding each and every show. And I should also say that there would be no podcast at all without the efforts of my colleagues at Adobe: not only did Lindsay Munro, Leah Walker and Paige Young actually master the funding and logistics that made this possible, but from the start they had an even bigger vision for what it could be than I did. I learned from every one of these people.

If you haven’t listened to “Wireframe,” it’s not too late! It’s a unique kind of design podcast, hosted by yours truly. Instead of merely interviewing well known designers, we dig into the world of interaction design via deeply researched reporting and engaging narratives. In other words, stories instead of résumés. You can read more in this blog post. And—we hope to return for a second season before too long. Stay tuned for more on that!

Finally, one last bit on the subject of podcasting. Last week, the Pocket Casts app launched a major new redesign. I had used previous versions on Android but I was pleasantly surprised by how elegantly executed the new iOS version is. (There’s a great write up of it over at MacStories.) After only a few days, it became my default podcast app. All of this was before (I swear!) I noticed that the marketing site for the app features the “Wireframe” show art right in the main image. So you know they have great taste over there. Give the app a try.

Pocket Casts Website