Without accessibility, a website is a mere novelty item that cant be used. It should be a key component of any web design strategy. It is so important that the government of UK has made it mandatory that all public sector websites created after September 2018 must be accessible. Big organizations as well as small players get carried away with beautiful widgets and aesthetics. They often underwrite the importance of accessibility which not only hampers their business model but is a deterrent to their website usability.
What is web design accessibility ?
If we were to define accessibility in the modest sense of the word, it would mean a website should be accessible to as many people as possible. Even people with disabilities can such as impaired vision, motor difficulties, deafness can access the website. Accessibility does not only mean a simplification of the design. It means that your brand is absorbed by those who need it. The design, content, menu etc are flexibile.
Why web design accessibility is important ?
There are many advantages to having a highly accessible website. It widens your reach and really builds your brand reputation. This is very important in public sector websites. Apart from that here are the general advantages of web design accessibility.
Avoid partiality or discrimination
Intentional or unintentional discrimination on whatsoever ground is harmful for your business and is unjust and unfair. Most organizations simply focus on design aesthetics and not on fundamentals. Be sure to include as many functions as possible for integrating different mediums of communication.
A website that is accessible to all enjoys a great reputation because it is perceived as being a sensitive organization. Sensitive to the needs of the people. This also translates to better traffic and position. Day is not far when this would be one of the ranking factors in google search or it might already be, who knows.
Great User Experience
A simplistic user experience goes a great way towards actual conversions. If you really integrate accessibility in web design standards, you can cover a lot of testing ground. You would have already tested your design against common problems. For inexperienced audiences, it is even more rewarding. Customers often don’t realize what an icon means or what it portrays.
Standard web design accessibility features
Make sure that your design is not cluttered as it can create confusion. Give proper breathing space to elements. Make any important term / condition bolder. Make call to action buttons which are easier to comprehend. Also a responsive website is a prerequisite.
Some people are color blind and this is not uncommon. Colors should not be key identifying factor of your design, if so there should be alternate indicators for the color blind population. For example include text alongside color to help people navigate the website correctly.
Website for people with mobility disorders
Navigation is one of the most important areas where great attention is required. Navigation is the skeleton of the website. Menu should be logically structured. Not only is this a requisite of accessibility but it is also important for SEO purposes.
Voice of the website
How text is framed has a direct bearing on what the user perceives. Try to keep the English plain. Avoid longer sentences and never ending paragraphs. Also make sure that the font is not too small to read and is clearly legible.
Audio and video are great assets to any website. Not only do they help users find information quickly they are also good for SEO. Google prefers rich results rather than text results. People with deafness should be able to see a transcript of the video or audio. Again there should provisions for pausing the video, volume controls.
Testing for web design accessibility standards
Use extensive testing to bring out any features that impairs the use of the website. You can take the help of automated tools. Human testing is also important. Try navigating your entire website from your keyboard. Test your website with target audience. Have a mix of people with disability and people who are technically backward.
Web design accessibility can have far reaching implications in terms of audience reach and brand reputation. I am also sure that google must incorporated this as a ranking factor because google intends to be relevant for as many people as possible. So take it in a positive manner. If your website is accessibility you can tap into a wider audience base and at the same time earn a great reputation.