Accessibility is the ability of your product to be used by everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive ability. It’s a set of principles that ensures all people can use your product in the same way, regardless of age, disability, language or culture.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility is about making your product accessible to people with disabilities. It’s important to make sure that people with a range of abilities can use your product easily and enjoyably, regardless of their circumstances.
There are many different types of disabilities, but the most common ones are related to sight, hearing, or motor skills (like being able to move around). For example: people who are blind may have trouble reading content on a website unless it’s written using a screen reader; someone who is hard-of-hearing may not be able to hear audio cues on a mobile app; someone with limited dexterity could struggle using apps that require lots of swiping gestures or tapping buttons very quickly.
Accessibility is for everyone.
People with disabilities are not the only ones who benefit from accessibility, though. Everyone benefits from it.
For example, people who have trouble reading fine print or using a keyboard might benefit from a button that is larger than normal and has clearer labeling. People who are colorblind may need to be able to change their screen’s colors to make things more visible. And people who want an alternative way of interacting with their device (like those who can’t use touch screens) may appreciate an app that supports speech-to-text input or other forms of non-traditional user input—or even just gives them the option to adjust font sizes and colors, so they can better see what they’re doing on their device.
Practical benefits of good accessibility.
Good accessibility can have a huge impact on your business, both in terms of the user experience and sales.
- Increased sales. If your site is more accessible, you’ll have more satisfied users, which will increase the likelihood of them advising friends and family to visit your site too.
- Increased market share. A better user experience leads to increased engagement with content (e.g., books, articles) on your site—and as long as it’s not too hard for users who are visually impaired or otherwise disabled from accessing that content easily, then everyone wins!
- Better search engine ranking. Google has put significant effort into making sure their search algorithm is able to detect when content is not accessible or does not allow for easy accessibility (i.e., when it’s not mobile-friendly). In fact, Google recently announced that this would be one of its new ranking signals
“We’re also looking at how well sites handle software updates so we can identify those that are doing a great job keeping pace with technology changes.“
Consequences of inaccessible Design
Consequences of inaccessible design can have significant negative impacts on both users and businesses. For users with disabilities, inaccessible design can mean that they are unable to access or use digital products and services, leading to frustration and exclusion. They may not be able to complete tasks or access important information, which can limit their ability to fully participate in society. The lack of accessibility can also make it hard for people to find, use and buy products and services, which can limit their choices and opportunities.
For businesses, the consequences of inaccessible design can be just as severe. Failing to meet accessibility standards can result in loss of business, as users with disabilities may choose to take their business elsewhere. In addition, businesses that fail to meet accessibility standards may face legal repercussions. There are laws and regulations in place that require businesses to provide accessible products and services, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Businesses that fail to comply with these regulations can be faced with fines and legal action, which can be costly and damaging to their reputation.
Furthermore, as more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of accessibility, there is a growing trend of more conscious consumerism. Customers are becoming more likely to choose products and services that are accessible and inclusive, and they may be more likely to recommend those products and services to others. Businesses that are not accessible can miss out on these opportunities and may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Accessibility is not just a moral or legal obligation but a smart business decision, as it helps to create a better user experience for everyone, which can lead to increased engagement, customer satisfaction, and ultimately business growth.
How to design for accessibility.
When designing for accessibility, it’s important to keep in mind that your users are as diverse and unique as the people around you. Some may have a physical disability (or illness) that limits hand movement or prevents them from interacting with a mouse or keyboard. Others may use screen readers to interpret websites and apps instead of visual cues such as color, shape, or size—and still others may listen to podcasts on earbuds during their morning commute.
Here are some specific ways to design for those with disabilities:
- Use simple language in your content. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that might be difficult for some users to understand. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to break up text and make it easier to scan.
- Provide alternative text descriptions for images. This allows users who are visually impaired to understand the context and meaning of images on your website or app.
Testing with screen readers.
With screen readers, you can test your website using software that reads out web content for people with vision impairments. Screen readers are not the same as assistive technology, which is designed to help people with disabilities interact with computers and other digital devices. Assistive technology includes things like Braille keyboards or voice recognition software; screen readers are software programs that read out web content for people who are blind or have low vision. Using a screen reader gives you an idea of how those who cannot see will experience your site–and it helps you identify any accessibility issues that may prevent them from accessing your site in an effective way.
If you don’t have access to a computer running a screen reader program (such as NVDA), there are several websites where you can try out different user interfaces in order to get an idea of what they sound like through one!
Make accessible design part of your process.
To ensure that your team understands the importance of accessibility, you must make it an integral part of your design and development process. This means that your team should be aware of accessibility guidelines and best practices and should be equipped with the knowledge and tools to create accessible products and services.
One of the most effective ways to ensure that your team is designing for accessibility is to include it in your QA testing process. This means that an accessibility audit should be conducted as part of your QA testing, to ensure that your product meets accessibility standards and that any issues are identified and addressed. This can be done by hiring an accessibility expert to conduct the audit, or by training your team members to conduct the audit themselves.
In addition, it’s essential to make sure your developers know how to code for accessibility. They should be familiar with accessibility guidelines and best practices, and should be able to write code that meets these standards. This could include using semantic HTML tags, providing alternative text for images, and ensuring that forms are accessible for users who rely on keyboard navigation.
Another way to support accessibility is to consider choosing a CMS or design tool that has built-in support for accessibility. This means that the tool will automatically generate accessible code or will make it easy to include accessibility features in your design. This can save time and resources, and can help to ensure that your product is accessible from the start.
In conclusion, making accessible design part of your process is essential to ensure that your products and services are usable by as many people as possible. By including accessibility testing in your QA process, and providing your team with the knowledge and tools to create accessible products, you can ensure that your product is inclusive and accessible to all users.
Designing for accessibility makes your product easy to use for all people and can increase your marketshare.
As a designer, you know that good design is essential to creating an experience that’s easy to use and enjoyable. But did you know that designing for accessibility can increase your marketshare?
Accessibility is important for everyone—not just people with disabilities. By making sure your product is usable by all users, including those with disabilities, you’re creating a more inclusive community where everyone feels welcome.
In addition to its social value, designing for accessibility can also improve sales figures because it makes your product easier to use for everyone—including potential customers who may not otherwise try out your app or website if they’re unable to easily navigate through it.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion of accessibility and how it can be an important part of your product’s design. We believe that accessibility is a critical element to consider when designing products, because it results in more usable and inclusive interfaces. When you make your product accessible, you increase its marketability—and that means making more money! If you have any questions about accessibility or would like to discuss the topic further, please feel free to drop a comment or contact us.