Design for inclusivity – an example from the redesign of ‘Talk to Frank’

I recently attended a meetup hosted by IDEO about designing for inclusivity. Amongst the talks was a case study of the “Talk to Frank” website redesign. Talk to Frank is a drugs awareness service that gives honest information.

Background of talk to frank

Talk to frank is a government run service that gives the public useful and honest information about drugs, such as what they are, what they look like, how they affect you. Instead of having people, for example teenagers, getting false or misleading information or opinions online, talk to Frank is a website that has the facts from trusted sources. I remember hearing about talk to frank when I was a teenager. Back then, they had a big marketing budget and advertised heavily. Emma Howell from CXpartners introduced their brief – redesign the talk to frank website. It was great to hear the research and thought that went into the redesign. They thought about how they could design for their audience and considered things like:

  1. page load time
  2. regional variations in the names of drugs and how they are described
  3. the language used to not make visitors feel judged

Page load time

Many young people are on restrictive data packages. Emma didn’t want to make a website that was all bells and whistles that would eat up a visitors data allowance. They wanted to make sure that visitors had easy access to trusted information.

Regional variation in the language used

Emma’s team monitored the search terms people use to arrive to the site. How someone refers to a particular drug may not be the same in London as it is in Newcastle.


They consulted specialist to make sure they weren’t using language and terms that would make visitors feel judged or talked down to. Terms such as “addict” were avoided so that negative stereotypes were not perpetuated. They wanted their visitors to feel that Talk to Frank was a safe place they could turn to to answer questions.

Key takeaways

  • Know your audience: respect them and their time
  • Do your research: both upfront and after the service launches so you can continuously improve
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