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2019: Design for Difference

62 locations, 26 Countries, 5 Continents

WIAD19 theme illustration by Sketch Squad
Design for Difference, illustration by Sketch Squad.

As designers, we are responsible for creating worlds of experiences, environments, services, and systems that impact millions of people – with lasting impacts. While we don’t have a Hippocratic Oath, it’s important for us to follow a similar goal to “do good” and “do not harm.” It is our responsibility as IAs to consider the consequences and impact our design decisions have on humanity and society as a whole.

Research is a foundational step in the design process. It ensures that we understand and account for diverse user needs within communities, both in our own domains and globally.

So, what differences are we designing for?

  • Difference in ability and disability

  • Difference in access to information and technology

  • Difference in language and cultural understanding

  • Difference in age, gender, and identity

  • Difference in experience

There is no average user. There is no norm.

“Different is the new normal we should be designing for.”
inclusive design strategist Elise Roy at the 2018 IA Summit in Chicago.

How do we as information architects and designers design for this difference? What is this difference that we’re designing for? How can we better understand it and become more engaged and mindful for our different and diverse users? How might we communicate this understanding to others and provide more meaning and depth?

We build worlds. Let’s do it responsibly.

Locations celebrating WIAD on February 23, 2019



With contributions and feedback from Peter Morville, Andrea Resmini, Kaarin Hoff, Noreen Whysel, Paul McAleer, Stuart Maxwell

Theme illustration by Sketch Squad, a student organization at Purdue University, that specializes in making ideas and information visually compelling.