Cast your eyes over any Google product and chances are good that at least a billion other people have done the same.
Google is a massive firm boasting a global revenue of $136 billion in 2018. As many as two billion people use Android every month and if you still aren’t convinced, Google has wormed its way into the way we speak.
With so many eyes on the firm it’s important that anybody using Google products feels included and the person whose job it is to do that is one, Annie Jean-Baptiste, head of product inclusion at Google.
Before we dive into what Jean-Baptiste does at Google, we’re going to ask that you watch the video below as it provides context as to how important being inclusive is.
Of course, the best way to find out what product inclusion is, is to speak to the expert.
“Product inclusion is trying to bring an inclusion into the product design process. There are key phases throughout product design right. It starts at ideation, to launch, to marketing and there steps in between. What our team tries to do is to really make sure that at those critical moments that the voices of the underrepresented are being heard. This is so that the end product works for everyone,” explains Jean-Baptiste.
It can be a massive undertaking but the Googler tells us that rather than assume what the experiences and lifestyles of potential users may be, they prefer asking them outright.
“A big part of this is not assuming and making sure that we’re working with the community to understand what their challenges are, what the opportunities are, what their needs are, and not assuming that we know what they need,” adds Jean-Baptiste.
In terms of who to ask, Google works off a framework in which it considers race, gender, age, education level, and geographical location when designing apps. Then, using data analysis Jean-Baptiste’s team can work with the product team and suggest testing with underrepresented groups to insure the product works for them.
But as the head of product inclusion points out, Google is still learning about inclusion and how best to implement it.
“We’re still on a journey and I think there’s a lot more that we need to learn and we’re excited to learn with others as well,” says the Googler.
But it all comes down to humans and having a conversation. While Google does test and re-jig products so they become more inclusive, it’s a process but it must start with talking to people.
Of course Google also learns from the past. Essentially Google will assess a product roadmap and determine what roadblocks it encountered. The solutions are then reintegrated into the overall product design to insure that inclusion is accounted for at the outset.
“I think you know of course we are not going to always get it right and there’s going to be tweaks. We’ve seen teams take that feedback and start to iterate. So it’s definitely not a static thing. You always need to be getting feedback from customers and users,” explains Jean-Baptiste.
“At the end of the day, everyone just wants to feel seen. And so I think ‘How are we ensuring that everyone feels beautifully and accurately represented?’. I think holding onto that is really, really important,” concludes the Googler.