Empathy in Web Development: Developing for the 80%

“Design for the Majority” is the second dictum in the WordPress philosophy. Repeating this mantra is simple but living it presents a series of challenges for designers and developers alike. Demographic statistics and personality studies indicate that individuals with careers in software development differentiate from the general populations tested in key areas associated with deductive reasoning, creativity, and compassion.

As makers, we have a responsibility to understand our users. We are experts in our field ­­wielding the power to influence the design and experience of 23% of the web. In our mission to “democratize publishing on the web,” we need to routinely examine our global audience and ensure we are meeting their needs in addition to our own.

This session will introduce techniques for approaching empathy in software creation and will identify the opportunities for growth that result from the adoption of compassionate and conscientious development practices. We will delve into the hiring methodology of forward­thinking companies, such as Etsy, to see how they are better connecting with their customers by increasing diversity amongst their programmers. This presentation will also propose tactics for discovering personal psychological preferences, and in turn, how to utilize individualized strengths to build software with the power to emotionally impact users.

When we publish software, we are communicating with the world. Through acknowledgement, introspection, and the direction of others, we can positively impact the lives of people we’ll never meet ­­ people that will never know of us or speak our names. The empathetic way is never the easy way, but it is the only way to create software that is truly for the people.

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