We know that content creation takes time and energy. With so many moving pieces in your communication strategy, inclusivity can be overlooked. However, it's an important aspect of a great digital experience that makes users feel understood and respected.
Do your words and images reflect the diversity of your users? Take a closer look at your web presence with these five tips to create inclusive content:
1. Use inclusive language
Make use of plain language and gender-neutral terms. Actively look for any assumptions underlying your content. Have you assumed access to digital tools that may not be available to everyone (like a smartphone)? Are your language choices gendered (for instance, "man-made")? A great example is choosing a more modern security question than "What is your mother's maiden name?". Many kids grow up with same-sex parents. Inclusive language makes a big difference in creating a welcoming web presence.
2. Choose diverse imagery
We know firsthand how hard it can be to find stock images that aren't clichéd. It's very much possible, with a little effort, to source photos and create graphics that represent a wide variety of individuals, couples and families. By avoiding stereotypes, you create a more visually interesting web presence that people can identify with easily. Many sites that offer free stock images have LGBTQ+ sections and are making a concerted effort to offer more diverse imagery.
An example of Upanup illustrations featuring diverse people and relationships.
3. Be thoughtful about webforms
Webforms often include loaded questions that are hard to answer for LGBTQ+ folks. You can make it easier by ensuring each question has a valid purpose and allows for a variety of answers. Where possible, avoid binary options for pronouns (she/he), titles (Mr./Mrs.) and relationship status (single/married). Instead, make these questions optional or insert text fields where people can provide their own answers. Better yet, consider if you really need to ask for that information. The fewer the questions, the higher the form completion rate—and your users will notice that you've made it easy.
4. Be transparent about data
Everyone is conscious of their privacy online (and lack thereof). The consequences of sharing data can particularly impact the well-being and safety of LGBTQ+ users. When asking for information, like someone's name, consider adding help text to explain how their answer will be used (people may go by different names in different situations). Provide peace of mind and help users make informed decisions by being clear about how you’ll use any data you collect:
- Why are you asking for this information?
- How will data be shared, and with who?
- Will the information be made public?
- Will your users have the chance to give permission?
5. Listen to your users
One of the best ways to create inclusive content is to hear directly from the people who use your website or service. If you are redesigning your website, include a diverse group of users in the project (for instance, with focus groups, community surveys or usability testing). To improve your current website, incorporate user engagement tools (like a "Was this page helpful?" button) to help inform specific changes. If you are responsible for social media, pay attention to what matters to people in the comments.
An example of free, inclusive stock imagery from twenty20.com.
LGBTQ+ folks are an important part of your digital community. By double-checking that your website works from a multitude of viewpoints, you respect and acknowledge individuality while creating a better user experience for everyone.
User experience and accessibility—website best practices that help you connect with audiences—are all about empathy and paying attention to diversity. If you want to know more about how to approach content, speak with our team of experts. Our specialists help organizations by writing engaging content and by providing guidelines to help teams create and manage an inclusive web presence.
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