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Is your app gender-inclusive? Read this to find out!

Posted by: Nikki Tabberrah

August 12, 2022


It’s important to recognize the role of brands and app developers in creating inclusive mobile experiences for all. 

In this guide, we’ll focus on how mobile app developers can consider the LGBTQ+ community through equity-focused design, and why brands should give the green light for these inclusive builds.

But before anything else, let’s define what equity-focused design is. Equity-focused design is a design process wherein creators (a.k.a your team and your tech partners) think through all the aspects of the app and ensure that its features are fair and inclusive for all types of potential users. The concept of Inclusivity typically goes beyond gender but it’s a key consideration nowadays. But it can also take a person’s race, abilities, age and socioeconomic status into consideration. 

An inclusive approach to app building is beneficial for all concerned. It gives users a digital platform where their identities and needs can be met. While brands can advocate for acceptance of modern-day norms, and equally, extend value to a wide range of customers. 

The Value of Inclusivity

Mobile apps are generally built to bring revenues into the business. Whether it’s an online store, a game or an app used for a marketing campaign, the key goal is to achieve healthy bottom lines. But in order for businesses to keep the momentum going, factors that affect customer conversion should be seriously considered. One of which is value. Teams must always go back to the question: How can we continuously provide value to all loyal and potential customers so they keep coming back?

Value comes in many forms. It could be giving a customer an extra 10% on top of a Black Friday price tag, sending them easy meal plans for the week via an email newsletter, or it could be something more impactful such as making them feel welcome and accepted through gender-inclusive features on your digital platforms.

As mentioned, gender is only one slice of the pie when it comes to the topic of inclusivity, but it is an important dimension of a user’s identity. It is complex and deeply personal on varying levels. So it’s vital that we make room for everyone. May it be through public infrastructures, policies, and the products, we set out for everyone’s use such as mobile applications.


Related: The App Industry is Missing Out on This Underestimated Target Market

Here are a few ways to make your apps gender-inclusive:

Be inclusive in data collection

When designing registration forms, pay attention to the number of options in the gender field. A majority of mobile apps give two to three options: male, female or others. In this day and age, excluding non-conforming options can make some users feel out of place. Widening your selections can create a sense of belongingness and promote social responsibility in your data collection process.

Moreover, it also promotes a positive experience during onboarding and draws positive emotions toward your brand. As a cherry on top, adding extra gender choices into your data collection can also provide useful consumer insights. This data can be used to develop effective targeting strategies for healthy customer engagements across all touch points.

Go for gender-neutral visuals

Say you’re building a dating app geared towards the younger market. It’s a platform where millennials and Gen Z can meet peers their own age. When you’re deciding on your splash screen design, opting for an illustration that depicts a typical male and female might not be the best decision at this point. It may seem harmless, but it actually reinforces conventional societal expectations and may imply that the app only caters to heterosexual partnerships. This makes nonconforming users feel excluded from its intended purpose.

In this day and age, people are more socially aware.  They advocate for issues relating to equality, gender and other prevalent social issues of this generation. So inclusivity is key. Here are a few ways to feature gender-neutral visuals in your app’s UI:

  • Add photos and illustrations with varying gender representations.
  • Veer away from stereotypical color schemes, fonts and graphics.
  • Go for genderless avatars for default profile photo fields.

Other gender-inclusive app elements

Promote inclusivity and reduce gender biases by integrating gender-inclusive features such as:

  •  Neutral UX language - avoid words that are inherently gendered such as “gals” and “guys”. 
  • Genderless Pronouns - avoid using “he/she”, or “him/her” and simply opt for “them/they” for a more inclusive set. 
  • Acceptance of Chosen names: this makes for meaningful customer engagements along the way. Particularly more impactful for people who are not cisgender, addressing them through their chosen names reduces psychological stress and uplifts their sense of being. 
  • Inclusive Information Architecture: veer away from gender-conforming categorization. Take online clothing shops, for example, clothing is commonly categorized into men’s wear, women’s wear, and a few other choices on the home page. This type of categorization expects nonbinary users to adhere to a binary gender system instead of having the freedom to choose products based on their preferred styles.

While there are many factors that affect information architecture, this aspect can be further improved as time goes by. Retail brands can categorize their products inclusively by segmenting them by season or styles, and just add filters to narrow down choices that best fit a typical male and female physique. 

The Rise of Inclusive Consumers

It’s 2022 and we’re now gearing towards a more equitable future. In America, two out of three shoppers take a brand’s and their own values into consideration when purchasing goods. They support those that recognize and respect the needs of underrepresented groups as their way of advocating for equality and celebrating diversity. 

According to McKinsey, social values shape purchase decisions more than ever—and retailers that act now stand to attract consumers’ loyalty and spending. Moreover, businesses that meet the needs of these inclusive consumers are expected to raise revenues and attract and retain top talents within the company. 

So if you have a current app and are looking to integrate more inclusive builds, Digital Awesome is here to make your digital product shine. Contact us here or ring our awesome team at  +1 (509) 598-0431.


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