Not another Clippy

Talking about diversity practices in making a more inclusive product by virtue of design.

Quite recently Kloudi has been graduating from a few users signing-up from within our network to a lot many now spreading across the globe. Kloudi has always imbibed the philosophy that inculcates a balance between heavy on technology and high on simplistic design. Our approach has always been inculcating simplicity within complexity. Be it the very DNA of us as founders where one appreciates games design principles and focus zone while coding and is excited by the possibilities that technologies can open, to the other who is fascinated by the way people think, emote and react, loves zoning out to art and design and is big on making technology more accessible. Our difference in thinking stems not just from what drives us but also stems from the diverse backgrounds we bring in as a team and this has enabled Kloudi to exist the way it does.

While the seeding of Kloudi was done by us as founders who imagined it to simplify the experience and learning curve in developer tools by nature of its design, we need to keep carrying forward this philosophy of innovation and simplicity. Once founders put out an initial version into the universe it then cannot succeed in solving a problem if it is build on purely the founders whims. User feedback and behaviours, likes and dislikes are what take the problem a step closer to being solved. This has been true for us as well. We have spoken to many potential users to re-establish and calibrate our thoughts. One factor that we wish we could percolate from our DNA to within our user interviews and our building process is diversity. 

Many might wonder as to why product design and development needs diversity and isn’t it just a hiring principle. Here is a little anecdote that will make you think differently. While designing Clippy which I presume every MS Office user remembers, most of the women who used it in a focus group didn’t feel comfortable and felt like they were being subjected to an uncomfortable gaze. Clippy didn’t work for many reasons in addition, like some found it elementary in functionality, others found it aloof, but the fact that the diversity of opinion ,if would have been inculcated much earlier would have prevented the demise of one of the first versions of a virtual assistant is something to think about. Diversity is necessary not just in your team when you build one, but also in your initial set of users who pave the future of your product. Diversity is not just gender, but a representation of different thought processes stemming from the the different ethnicities, skills and backgrounds people come from.

While building Kloudi, we were very mindful of gathering feedback from various roles from within engineering teams we spoke to, but we didn't calibrate to be diverse in gender or ethnicity. While ethnicity is something we are working on by letting in global users, the diversity in gender, or type of skills or thought processes still needs some work in terms of maintaining balance. The reason we penned this blog is because we have seen a lot of men in dev communities from across the globe sign up and share their valuable inputs on Kloudi, we would love to see more diversity in gender, ethnicities, geographies and skill backgrounds when it comes to folks signing up or just sharing their feedback on Kloudi. We welcome a diverse opinion and we want to hear what you have to say, so here is putting this ask out into the universe.

Nitish and Sneh