A Web for Everyone: Designing accessible User Experiences Pdf
Web accessibility simplifies user journeys and makes websites simpler for all audiences to access, understand and use. Regardless of a person’s vision or physical abilities, they all benefit from web accessibility, making websites simpler for them to navigate, understand and use.
For all those responsible for creating or managing websites – or teams responsible – this book is essential reading.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility means making sure online content and services can be used by those with various types of disabilities, from those who are blind or vision impaired to deaf/hard of hearing individuals, mobility challenged individuals or cognitive impairments such as ADHD/autism sufferers. Accessibility also encompasses people who use assistive technologies to navigate websites, read text or interact with applications.
When we speak of accessibility, our minds often go straight to users with physical limitations; however, many of the same features which help make sites accessible for people with disabilities can also benefit other visitors. Video captions not only help people who have hearing impairments, but can be especially beneficial when watching videos with muted audio and ambient noise disruption. High contrast text or other features designed to increase visual clarity can benefit people with low vision who struggle to process visual information in bright lighting conditions.
Consistent design and layout are integral parts of making websites user-friendly for keyboard navigation users, especially for those relying on keyboard navigation alone. Testing accessibility can be easily done — simply try using your website without using a mouse! Doing this will reveal any issues and provide evidence for full keyboard support.
Businesses must strive to ensure their online products and services are accessible to people with disabilities as it’s the right thing to do and will help reach a wider audience, reduce legal complications, improve SEO rankings and usability – an investment in creating an ethical brand with lasting appeal for customers. Furthermore, reputation may suffer if companies don’t come across as inclusive when meeting customer needs.
Why do we need to make sites accessible?
Web accessibility is about inclusion; we all share responsibility in making sure people with disabilities can access the information and services we offer, whether this be legally mandated or simply an ethical imperative. Furthermore, businesses have an incentive to ensure their sites are accessible because doing so benefits all.
Accessibility can help improve user satisfaction, which in turn decreases bounce rates and boost conversion rates. Plus, making websites and web apps accessible shows customers you care for them and can lead to increased loyalty and advocacy from them.
Accessibility can also improve overall usability. Many of the WCAG standards actually serve to enhance usability for users without disabilities as well. For example, making sure links are clearly labeled, visually distinct and appropriately nested assists site navigation regardless of ability. Ensuring text can be enlarged and arranged using keyboard controls is another accessibility standard which enhances mobile device user experiences for all.
Making websites accessible can also help organizations avoid legal complications. An increasing number of organizations are being sued due to non-compliant digital environments, with detrimental repercussions for business operations.
Integrating accessibility at the outset of a development process is far simpler and cost-effective than trying to retrofit later as an additional project. Achieve Level A compliance ensures that most visitors to your website can use it – like building ramps for people unable to navigate steps – making this the minimum standard that all sites should aim for.
How can we make sites accessible?
There are various approaches to making websites more accessible, from using internationally recognized standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), to considering user personas when designing sites – this ensures the website caters for different user types while helping identify any issues which could affect particular groups of visitors.
Finalizing on accessibility requires remembering that people with disabilities often face temporary or situational obstacles, thus necessitating us being flexible when thinking and designing for accessibility. We should allow users to skip videos or slideshows or use keyboard shortcuts instead of mouse clicks as appropriate, using alternative text for images/photos/other visual elements, or being flexible about sizes of texts and layouts if applicable.
As part of your website design and testing processes, it’s also crucial that you are aware of all types of impairments that could impede users’ experiences with digital products. For instance, some may be unable to use the mouse due to injury or illness while others might have trouble seeing screen content or using keyboards. To ensure accessibility for all visitors and ensure success in reaching users who may need extra assistance using your website. When considering these impairments when building and testing your site.
As well as these best practices, it is also crucial to keep user-centered design top of mind when attempting to provide an inclusive user experience. This means putting yourself in your users’ shoes and trying to understand their needs, goals, and challenges as part of designing for all audiences. Involve end users in the design process and have them test your site prior to going live.
What are the best practices for making sites accessible?
There’s often an assumption that web accessibility requires difficulty or investment, when in reality most techniques can be easily implemented by taking the time to implement them and providing all users with an experience tailored to their abilities. By investing time in this initiative, your user experience will benefit everyone regardless of their background.
Unilever’s website utilizes simple layout and navigation to help visitors easily find what they are searching for. In addition, Unilever provides multiple ways for users to interact with its content – audio/video interaction as well as providing alternate text for images.
Use headings to structure your pages in an accessible way for users of assistive technologies to navigate them more easily. Headings should be placed in order from H1 through H4 and should describe what’s contained on that page. Providing clear color contrast between foreground and background text will make your website easier for readers with limited vision or blindness, as will providing sufficient contrast between foreground and background text – check your color contrast using tools such as UXPin’s built-in accessibility feature to make sure it complies with WCAG standards!
Avoid page overlays, lightboxes and modal dialogs which may confuse screen readers or cause keyboard-only users to experience difficulty when used together with magnification software. Furthermore, it’s vitally important that videos on your site include closed captioning options and transcripts for hearing-impaired visitors.
People with mobility disabilities typically have limited hand and arm movement, making mouse or trackpad use impossible. Achieving comparable functionality for keyboard-only users by adding the :hover CSS effect may help, though tabs and arrow keys should still be used to navigate content logically through your website and skip over elements that don’t matter. Also consider switching out text images for real text that is controlled with CSS to allow font sizes to increase as needed and prevent images from blurring when magnified.
How can we make sites accessible on mobile?
As more people switch from desktop computing to mobile, making websites accessible becomes ever more crucial. Many who rely on mobile devices have disabilities that make using websites designed for desktop difficult. Luckily, there are simple steps available that can make websites accessible across devices.
One key thing to keep in mind when designing for mobile is the smaller screens of mobile devices compared to desktop computers. Therefore, form fields should only collect necessary information – long forms will appear unwieldy on mobile phones and may prove challenging for users. Popups should also be avoided on mobile sites as these are often an inconvenience and slow down page loads significantly.
Keep in mind that screen readers can also be used on mobile devices. Therefore, it’s even more critical that all forms have appropriate labels and keyboard commands work seamlessly. For instance, when adding search fields with text boxes associated with them using assistive devices like screen readers, make sure they clickable labels are associated with those text boxes so users of assistive devices can click directly onto those labels to enter information into them.
Before your site goes live, it’s also wise to test its usability with a screen reader. This will enable you to identify any issues not caught by W3C validators and will give an idea of what it’s like navigating your site with one – helping you design better interfaces for all users.