Design for The Minority

“Design for who?” we’d asked. “Design for all.” What a grand answer!

How could we deign for all while this world was composed by all kinds of people with so many differences? Otherwise, why will we devoted to product positioning or aiming target audiences. We could study behavior and habit of most people with the data of statistic research. We could explore niche markets to fulfill the needs of the minorities. However, how could we possibly create a design that can satisfy all?

Universal design, broadly speaking, covers all design-related areas such as environment and products. It is to take all potential users into consideration as thoroughly as possible while designing and product design is no exception. Here, the minority refer to groups that are physiologically different from the average human population, infants, elders, and physical disabilities. Under this principle, why don’t we treat group differences as “basic” needs that should be met rather than “extra” requirements?

Left-handed have the right to use scissors with ease, so it is necessary to design scissors for left-handed. However, it is better to design a pair of scissors that can be used by both hands rather than specifically design one for the left-handed. Indeed, design emphasizes diversity to meet different demands. Instead of treating the minority as a niche market, we could regard them as part of the majority in the first place.

An automatic folding mobility scooter was designed for elder citizen who have difficulties in move about and muscle weakness but it is also convenient for everyone. Palm peelers were designed for patients suffered from arthritis, Parkinson's disease or hand injuries, but the design was so convenient that it was welcomed and liked by the public. For most people, these designs may not be necessary, but it turns out that designing for people who need more assistance actually benefits all.

Although we can't meet the special needs of the minority, there are still minorities of minorities, but when we make the needs of the minority as priority, we can design more comprehensively. These differences may be small, but these details, empathy and wisdom are exactly the essence of design: for the user, and for the advancement of human society.

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