SEASON 1: EPISODE 9
On this episode of The T+P Podcast, Amber sits down with Jen Heazlewood, Creative Director and Head of Experience Design at R/GA London, about eliminating unconscious biases in our products, services and designs.
Moving from physical to experiential: R/GA London creative director, Jen Heazlewood, talks about creating inclusive human experiences. The design process includes asking: What products and services are you creating? Do they already exist? With what platform are customers engaged: social, voice, web, digital products? How do you know if you’re creating the right product or service? As technology evolves, what needs to be done to create new experiences?
Unconscious biases: Heazlewood noticed that she was often the only female in the room. Her viewpoints differed from that of her peers. Having a different perspective allowed her to connect with her customers in a valuable way. The company took note when a customer project, led by male designers, delivered a one-dimensional design. She began to look at the cause and stumbled across the idea of unconscious biases. Her takeaway: it’s important to bring in the right people, at the right time, to ensure you your team can create for a variety of consumers, not just those who are like them.
Identifying your unconscious biases: Unconscious bias is based on the way we’re built. There are three specific types of biases
Confirmation bias - approaching a topic by searching for information that confirms your beliefs. This form of bias causes you to seek out people who can confirm your beliefs and shy away from those who do not. Awareness of this behavior allows you to filter information consciously and accurately to ensure you are relying on what is factual instead of what reinforces your opinion.
Affinity bias - by nature, people favor others who resemble themselves and see fault in those who are different. Building a circle of people around you that are different helps ensure you’re not leaving out important perspectives.
Social comparison bias - we compare ourselves. We begin to feel superior to others just by remaining in our social circle. It’s important to step outside of your comfort zone to experience other people’s point of view because it begins to narrow the divide and promote understanding instead of judgment.
Identifying your own unconscious biases: As designers, marketers, engineers and business owners, it’s important to be aware of unconscious biases so they do not influence your work. Project Implicit is an online test created by a group of researchers from Harvard and University of Virginia. By recognizing how you think, you can train your brain to be more inclusive.
Consequences of biases in design: creating experiences for people who are different from you: doing so requires you to get “into the skin,” according to Heazlewood, of the people for whom you’re creating these experiences. At Tote + Pears, we say “build it from their lens.” Heazlewood gives an example of exclusion that caused historic photography company, Kodak, to miss the mark. When teams don’t look like your audience, the designs can be affected. The same issues are happening with Artificial Intelligence (AI) today when it comes to missing the mark with voice, race and gender.
What are you doing to create better experiences?
Do the work: diversify your team. It’s easy to feel comfortable with the familiar. Most people don’t want to break up a good thing, especially if they have a team that works well together and delivers. But complacency is a trap – if you don’t push to understand customers who look or think differently than you, you’re limiting yourself and your brand. Bringing different perspectives onto the team allows you to approach product/experience design through different lenses and ultimately, enhances the end result.
Understanding your audience: What insights can you bring to the product design process and the consumers for whom you’re creating? What pivotal insight will shift culture and change the conversation? It’s about digging through the details and bringing out something that inspires your team and the consumer.
Jen Heazlewood, Creative Director with 15 years international experience in the UK, Germany, Turkey & Australia. Leading many large collaborative teams across a broad range of clients in financial services, e-commerce, retail, telecommunications and automotive. Jen has helped transform mass market brands such as Dyson, Google, Unilever, RBS/ NatWest and Akbank. Jen’s work has won multiple awards including Cannes, D&AD, Digital Impact Awards, DADIs, BIMA and The Lovies and listed in the BIMA Top 100 as a UX and Design Champion.
Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Produced by: Kai-Saun Anderson
Music by: Podington Bear
Photo by: Julien Leclercq