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The Importance Of Improving Accessibility Throughout A Website’s User Experience

The internet has become an essential part of life for many. From managing day-to-day tasks at work to unwinding at the end of the day, most of us nowadays could not imagine life without it. However, not everyone has the same experience.

Although adults with disabilities make up a staggering 16% of the world’s population, too many websites, platforms, and other forms of digital media do not supply the necessary accommodations. That’s despite the fact that 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the Internet on a daily basis — even though they face challenges doing so.

While some people rely on assistive technology to navigate the web, creating user experience (UX) designed with them in mind not only creates a more inclusive web and increases potential audiences, but actually improves the experience for all users.

There are many strategies worth implementing to avoid overlooking potential website visitors and to deliver a quality UX to everyone. It begins with those who manage websites to prioritize  the creation of inclusive content, enhancing elements of website design, and investing in value-adding architecture. It also requires careful consideration as there are varying types of disabilities that should be accommodated.

One practical and easy-to-implement approach within the realm of interface design is to utilize simple interactive elements. Overly complicated elements or those with too many moving parts can limit the number of people who are able to view and interact with them. To prevent this exclusion, the designs must be clear, intuitive, and accessible on touch devices and other assistive technologies such as specialized keyboards and screen readers.

What might this approach to “simple” entail? While it differs by content, there are certain “do’s” and “don’ts” to consider following. Some don’ts include requiring hovering over elements to get critical information, only allowing certain dimensions, and using color as the only means of conveying important information. A few do’s include confirming autoplay videos are fully accessible and zoom functions are enabled without losing image or content quality.

There are also do’s and don’ts for copy content creation to take into account. For instance, certain font sizes and styles may be difficult for some users to decipher clearly or for their assistive technologies to effectively convey. This means sticking to best design practices, such as using left aligned copy blocks and avoiding fancy scripts or decorative components that could impede these processes.

One major consideration all those who are involved in the website design and content creation processes need to keep in mind is scannability in UX by following an accessible heading hierarchy. Being able to scan the content and pull the important information is essential for everyone to have a positive UX, but especially those who rely on screen readers, so they’re able to scan heading topics as opposed to reading all of the page copy to find what they’re looking for.

Finally, don’t use icons as the only means of conveying or labeling important information in order to avoid confusion and confirm complete understanding for all users. Text should accompany all icons in a website design. And do create completely responsive designs that adapt to all screens, no matter the browser, device, layout or assistive technology used.

Want to learn more about digital accessibility and improving the UX? Check out the accompanying resource for further information.

Infographic and article provided by web accessibility solutions company, Aten Design Group.

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