Microsoft Surface Understanding Limitations

Visual design, Illustration

Project Overview

Microsoft's Surface team had a vision to create a digital handbook to help designers and developers build products and experiences for a variety of audiences. The framework of this eBook outlines the cognitive, mobility, vision, hearing, speech, and sensory demands of daily technology use. It is an overview of the many components of human diversity that may affect the usability of a device. It outlines the barriers a person may face when they experience a mismatched interaction between their level of abilities and the design of a product. The goal of this framework is to provide a reference list of human diversity factors to consider when practicing inclusive design. Allovus was asked to create illustrations as examples of designing for these areas of diversity. We also contributed to the content creation, refinement, and the visual layout for this phase of the eBook.

The man in the wheelchair has moved alternative input controls to his wheelchair tray so he can use the computer from farther back than most people would.

Personas development

Our team worked with the client technical director and lead researcher to build an identity for each area. The persona development included extensive conversations and refinement of illustrations which showcased highly detailed attributes for each individual character. These needed to be finalized before the actual illustrative examples could be completed.

Graphic shows four thumbnails, each depicting a different persona; hearing loss profound, hearing loss, speech receptive, and chronic pain. Each persona includes two illustrations; one depicting barriers and one depicting accessibility features in place to facilitate ease of use.

Content development

Our in-house content editor partnered with the client research lead to create an organized structure to describe and clarify the areas of human diversity. We helped explain possible barriers some users face, and gave examples of practical facilitators that could aid in alleviating barriers for each.

Graphic shows five thumbnails of content pages; Title Page, Table of Contents, and three pages from the Cognition section.

eBook visual design

Working with brand guidelines to adhere to a complementary style for Microsoft, our team focused on building this draft of the eBook in a PowerPoint format. Leveraging patterns and styles, the eBook came to life through bold comic-style illustrations combined with a clean layout and detailed information design recommendations. The eBook is the first of multiple phases of this work, with Microsoft hoping to create a new narrative for designing inclusive and accessible experiences for everyone.

Graphic shows nine thumbnails from a PowerPoint eBook depicting barriers and facilitators for the categories Cognition; Mobility; Vision; Voice, Speech & Communication; Sensation.

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