In her 7 Principles of Inclusive Design webinar today, Henny Swan, director of user experience at The Paciello Group, discussed how accessibility and inclusive design fit together to create usable websites and web apps that work for everyone.
Swan explained how we need to think early in our design process about how we can make our products and services inclusive.
While focusing on color contrast, focus states, and other technical issues are important parts of making things accessible, what is more important is to consider how our customers use our products and services.
Here are my takeaways from the webinar.
7 Principles of Inclusive Design
- Prioritize content.
Help users focus on core tasks, features, and information by prioritizing them within the content and layout.
Avoid creating accessibility barriers. Make core tasks easy to find.
Example: native apps on your smartphone. Many have moved their search feature to easily found area, for example, at the top or bottom of the screen.
Place key information, buttons, and links above the fold. Scrolling requires a lot of work for people who use switches.
- Consider situation.
Make sure your interface delivers a valuable experience to people regardless of their circumstances.
This principle applies to the person using your application.
For example: use good color contrast. In bright sunlight or glare, people may not be able to read your content.
Go beyond compliance to provide good color contrast. If branding is an issue, consider outlines or increasing font weight.
- Be consistent.
Be consistent with conventions and with their application throughout your interface.
Consistency touches everything in your design.
Aim for consistency across platforms. Example of a consistent search: Amazon.
Have a consistent structure across pages. Here’s example of iPlayer for BBC, showing the consistent heading styles.
Excellent resource: WAI-Authoring Practices 1.1, which provides common design patterns for making buttons, breadcrumbs, links, etc. accessible.
- Give control.
Make sure people always have control over content and presentation.
People should be able to access and interact with content in their preferred way.
- Offer choice.
Consider providing different ways for people to complete tasks, especially those tasks that are complex or non-standard.
Users find some things easier than others, some people prefer to not scroll.
Example: provide the ability to view content by list or grid view.
Another example: delete email messages by swiping to delete or tapping to delete. It may be difficult for some people to swipe while others may find it challenging to tap.
Swipe to delete is a common gesture. But not everyone may be aware of it. Or know it works in a particular application.
- Provide a comparable experience.
Ensure your interface provides a comparable experience for all users, so people can accompish tasks in a way that suits their needs without undermining the quality of the content.
Example: it’s not enough to have alternative text, it needs to be good alternative text.
Another example: closed captions for videos need to exist and need to be synchronized.
However, they may not be readable if the font size is too small, the chosen font isn’t readable, or the color contrast of captions against the background is poor.
- Add value.
Consider the value of features and how they improve the experience for different users.
Example: you’ve created a compliant form, but filling it out can be a challenge for your users.
Can focus be set in a form field, is the form field large enough?
For some users, typing precise values and special characters can be frustrating and time consuming as theyswitch from letters to numbers.
One of the most challenging issues: not being able to see passwords as you enter them.
Showing the password as it’s typed in can take away that challenge.
Another example: Touch ID, voice search, being able to scan your credit card or other card can make it easier for everyone.