How digital agencies can make the world a better place.

By Nicole Bartlett

Working in a design and development agency, full of creative, passionate people, gives us the opportunity to look at the world in a different light. Challenges that seem unsolvable from the outside, breed excitement and fervour inside agency walls. So how can we channel that same passion and come together to better our world?

“designers actually can change the world for the better by making the complicated simple and finding beauty in truth.” - Paul Rand

As designers, engineers and product owners, our mission should be pretty simple; to make products that actually make things better. Does the world need another Tinder or another Snapchat? Perhaps not. Could those concepts be adapted to eliminate bullying and encourage meaningful connections? Absolutely.

Whilst the concept of the product or experience that we're creating is important, so is accessibility. Although adhering to WAI and WCAG guidelines is a good place to start, can we push ourselves to think past readable font sizes and contrasting colour pairings? Globally, around 10% of the world’s population (650 million people) live with a disability*. We have all the skillsets within our agile teams to push boundaries and challenge each other to do what's best for everyone, not just the majority.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” - Mark Twain

Your communities need you.

As well as including users with disabilities in our research groups and user testing sessions, what can we do to directly impact lives within our local communities? There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK**. This is a generation that didn't grow up playing Snake on their Nokias. Many have never used a smartphone or tablet and the idea of using technology is frightening, even though it could alleviate some of their suffering. Reach out to your local Age UK (or equivalent) and ask if there's anything you or your team can do to help.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the future of the tech industry, Generation Z. Seeing how innovative children are today is inspiring, exciting and to be honest, a little terrifying. Not only do most 5 year olds own a tablet or smartphone, they can already code basic games, design 3D characters and absorb endless Peppa Pig on YouTube kids. We have the opportunity now to encourage these bright minds to consider future careers in the tech industry.

Cognitive diversity.

"We are oblivious to our own blind spots. We perceive and interpret the world through frames of reference but we do not see the frames of reference themselves." - Matthew Syed, Rebel ideas

For anyone looking to understand just how important diverse thinking has been throughout human existence, Rebel ideas by Matthew Syed is an eye-opening read. He challenges that it's not only diversity among different genders, races and cultures that breeds success, but also cognitive diversity formed by different life experiences from people with different points of view.

Only 11% of all engineers in the U.S. are women, according to Department of Labor***. Although that statistic seems gloomy, there is a buzz coming from Silicon Valley. Research has shown that women now make up more than half of new computer science graduates and junior developers entering the workforce****. Women under 25 are also 33 percent more likely to study computer science than those who were born before 1983. This subtle shift could mean that in the next decade we see real diversity within our engineering teams, improving our collective perspective.

Follow our progress on Twitter as we try to tackle some of the above challenges head on. Join the discussion with #WorldlyWednesdays.

*Disability Statistics 2020 - akeaweb.com. **The facts on loneliness - campaigntoendloneliness.org. ***Wired magazine. ****cnet.com

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