Optimizing your website’s accessibility makes using it a positive experience for everyone
Accessibility is crucial for any website or digital interface, as it ensures that everyone can use and access the content, regardless of any disabilities. Great resources to ensure web accessibility include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or the Accessibility Checklist.
One important aspect of accessibility is keyboard accessibility. This means that all interactions on the site can be accessed using only a keyboard, without the need for a mouse. This is important for users who may not be able to use a mouse, such as those with mobility impairments or those using a screen reader. Keyboard accessibility also benefits advanced users who navigate using the keyboard, as it can be faster than a mouse.
Another aspect of accessibility is to ensure that all multimedia content is accessible to all users. This includes providing captions for videos and audio descriptions for audio files. This allows users who are deaf or hard of hearing to understand and enjoy the content. Captions are also helpful for users in loud environments or those who do not understand the language being spoken in the multimedia, as they can be easily translated into multiple languages.
The use of color is also crucial in terms of accessibility. The text on the site should have sufficient color contrast with the background so that it is easily readable both for users with visual impairments and in direct sunlight. You can use this color contrast checker to ensure your text has enough contrast against the background. I also created this plugin to check color contrast and adjust colors directly in Figma.
Accessible language helps everyone understand a website, regardless of their socio-economic background. It's important to use simple, clear language that is easy to understand. This is especially important for government websites, where the information being presented may be complex and unfamiliar to many users. A great example of this is gov.uk, which does an excellent job of explaining complex visa processes in a clear and concise manner. To improve language clarity, you can use the Hemingway App.
When creating new products, there are a few design principles to consider. First, make sure your product meets the needs of your target users. User research and testing can help ensure that the interface appeals to your audience and is easily understood.
According to Jakob's law, people spend most of their time on websites other than yours. They prefer your site to work the same way as others, so using familiar patterns on your website will make navigation easier. A typical example is the floppy disc icon used for saving content. Using a different icon could create a hurdle for your users, who will need to learn what it means.
In addition to using established design patterns, striving for consistency in your product's design is essential. Consistency means using consistent language, layout and design elements throughout the platform. It helps users understand how to use and navigate the product more easily.
Providing feedback to users is also important. It can be in the form of messages or notifications that inform users about the success or failure of an action or provide information about what is happening in the product. This helps users understand the system's state and what is happening, which can improve their overall experience with the product.
Another principle to bear in mind is that less is more. While it's tempting to include as many features in your product as possible, it can overwhelm your users. The principle of the flexibility-usability trade-off states that as a system becomes more flexible, its usability decreases, making it more complex and harder to use. It is crucial to consider this trade-off when designing and find the right balance between the two.
Accessible design for all
An accessible website is easier and more pleasant for users to navigate, making it more likely that they will return and become loyal customers. Taking every effort to enhance your site’s accessibility by incorporating the design principles we’ve discussed ensures that visitors with and without disabilities have the best experience possible.