4 tips for breaking your design biases from Grab’s Lead Designer, Jay Demetillo


Wei Ni Neo

January 14, 2022 | 2 min read

Last Updated: May 24, 2022

If being the Lead UX Designer at one of Southeast Asia’s biggest superapps, Grab, isn’t cool enough, you should probably know that Jay Demetillo has partied with celebrities like Kanye West and Jay-Z. On Day 3 of our CX Circle APAC event, Jay spoke about his tips to break and reform your biases to design more inclusively for your users.

Firstly, what is inclusive design?

Jay describes inclusive design as:

“A design process that’s not restricted to tech interfaces, with a mainstream product or service that’s designed to be usable by as many people as reasonably possible—across different aspects of culture, social stability, language, gender, age, digital accessibility, and disabilities.”

There is a myriad of untapped opportunities when it comes to designing inclusively. And this is something that’s really important within the digital space, because:

  • 1 in 5 people will be over 65 by 2030. How do we make sure these products and services are accessible to people aged over 65? 
  • 50% of children under the age of 5 belong to a minority group. How do we design accessibly for the underserved communities, such as those in lower-income situations?

Get the Digital Accessibility Handbook

Download our handy guide to creating better user experiences for all.


How to overcome your design biases? 

Jay breaks it down into four steps: 

1. Discern

“Unpack your privilege and power, realize your biases”

You might not have realized it yet, but there are always preconceived biases and privileges when first designing for another country. It’s critical to recognize and question the assumptions you may hold for other countries, and realize the impact these may have on your design.

Presentation slide with the titile "Discern - Unpacking your power and privilege"

2. Analyze

“What assumptions do you make in regard to these (innate or situational) traits?”

For Jay, the questions you should consider early in the process are:

  • “What assumptions do you make regarding these (innate or situational) traits?”
  • “How do these assumptions affect your design, usage, or decision-making?”

Presentation slide with the title "Analyze"
Jay explained that before coming to Asia, he didn’t understand what Eastern culture was all about. Working there, he realized that unlike his experience in the United States, the cultures that exist in each country in Asia were vastly different from each other and that
Asia wasn’t a monolith.

So how do you find out what your users are actually looking for? It boils down to user research, by going to the ground with your team and talking to your users to understand their daily habits.

3. Ideate

“(The ideation process) goes in a loop, you have to keep validating your idea”

The ideation process can be described in these five steps:

  1. Understand and define the problem
  2. Sketch it out and ideate
  3. Decide on the solution 
  4. Prototype
  5. Test 

Breaking design biases presentation slide with the title "Ideate"

Building the right solution is an iterative cycle of listening to your users, understanding their needs and habits to validate and improve on your solution.  “Before defining the problem, first identify any underlying biases and talk to your users,” explains Jay.

4. Objective

“Be objective, be unbiased”

Breaking design biases presentation slide with the title "Objective"

Here’s an example of how a company designs inclusively: Lemonade, an insurance company, uses toothbrushes to represent the types of people living in their homes. It is a fun and creative way to show the different options to their users and doesn’t discriminate or show bias in terms of sex or gender.

For more on Grab’s approach to design inclusively, you can catch the full talk here.