Designing A Universally Equal Experience

By Parisa Bazl

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EachForEqual, which emphasizes an individual’s ability to advocate for gender equality, but more so equality for all. It is essential to have a fair chance at a high quality of life and is measured in terms of progress including equal experiences, equal wages and equal opportunities for career advancement.

Commvault prides itself on this. I know because they hired me for a user experience role that is often filled by a man. This example of equity is a necessary step towards true equality. Our Chief Diversity Officer Orly Lynn discussed gender equality in her own blog, so I thought I could discuss equality in terms of how we design products.

By saying that the world would be better if it were more equal, we acknowledge that inequality is a prevalent and inescapable reality for many people. As a UX designer, I deal with this concept of inequality daily and must think about people first; consider their goals and challenges; and then create a design to reach those goals and face those challenges.

If you’re designing for a particular sector, users’ goals tend to be more aligned. However, oftentimes, the bigger, more problematic differences arise in terms of challenges faced by users. For example, as a designer you may be tasked with creating a form that allows people to sign up for a free trial of your product. This seems straightforward, but what if some users are visually impaired or blind? Are they using a laptop or mobile device? Or do they have limited motor abilities that could present challenges when attempting to fill out their information? To design a universally equal experience – in this case, where success is measured by the ability to fill out the form, we must factor in these realities. 

So, while equality implies that everything is the same, we now need to consider what kind of equity is necessary to ensure that sameness for the user. This is key to equality. As a designer, we need to factor in things like contrast levels and screen readers for vision-impairments, embrace adaptive practices like making text larger to overcome sizing challenges, and provide the ability to auto-navigate between form fields for people who aren’t able to do so on their own. 

Similarly, our latest offering, Metallic, provides an enterprise-grade backup and recovery solution for companies that may have varying degrees of technical experience compared to larger enterprises. By simplifying the configuration experience or providing an automated plan selection, our design provides equity for those who want an equal Commvault experience but may not have the same means.

Whether we’re talking about our user experience or women’s rights, it’s impossible to have equality if we don’t have equity. At a software company, like Commvault, we have an opportunity to solve both by creating a product that adapts to different needs across our industry and focusing on larger social issues, like gender equality. While at times inequality is disheartening, the best solutions are creative and factor in each voice and its unique needs equally.