Why Is Accessibility-First Important For Effective UX Design?
Web designing has changed a lot in recent years, thanks to the new technologies that improve user experience. Modern website designers are particularly aware of incorporating accessibility in UX design to ensure that people with disabilities can have the same user experience. Inclusive design is now becoming more common as brands want to reach out to various populations.
From a financial standpoint, businesses have a lot more to gain when they insist on accessibility for UX designers. 75% of people with disabilities in the USA use high-speed internet daily. Also, ADA-based lawsuits increased by 25% in 2020. More importantly, 74% of those ADA-based lawsuits were against e-commerce websites that failed to provide accessibility for disabled users.
What Is Accessibility-First Design?
Accessibility-first in UX design means that the apps and websites with user interfaces should be easily accessible to everyone, including people with varying levels of disabilities. The navigation system should be logical, allowing everyone to have the same user experience. While this requires significant investment in UX design, the ROI on UX returns is 9,900%.
Accessibility-first design should incorporate accessibility features of smart devices. UX designers already incorporate dark mode switching, zooming in or out, and voice-based search to app and web interfaces. With some understanding and training on accessibility for UX designers, website designs can be trendy and accessible for everyone. It will also greatly enhance the experience for average users.
Challenges Of Accessibility First In UX Design
The focus on accessibly first design is recent, and not many UX designers are aware of it. There is no formal training available to improve accessibility. The design of a company’s website purely depends on the expertise and ability of the UX development company. Some of the challenges that UX designers face are:
- Inability to recognize and understand indirect design bias
- New designs are difficult to develop for a wider target audience
- Lack of empathy in developing adaptable UX elements
- Lack of knowledge about limitations and abilities of people with impairments
- Increase in design cost to incorporate accessibility features
- Lack of tech to easily fit accessibility features into launched software
- Lack of tools to accurately measure website accessibility in the design phase
Best Practices For Accessibility-First For UX Designers
To remove bias during tech design, UX designers should focus on conducting usability tests from different perspectives. Designers and developers should create context out of their personal experience. Researching the audience for UX design gives more insight into the features required. It helps the UX team to overcome their biases, habits, and assumptions. Most UX designers include biased designs unintentionally. Extensive research and usability tests will help them remove these blind spots in the design process.
54.4% of worldwide internet traffic is from mobile phones. With more accessibility features, disabled users are more likely to use these mobile devices instead of bulky laptops or desktops. So, the first step is to design websites and apps that are easily accessible using mobile phones. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a detailed list of guidelines for inclusive UC design.
Following are some of the best practices for accessibility-first design
Start With Detailed User Research
UX designers can create features only if they understand the users. Flexibility should be the primary goal for product design. Average users, too, use various screens according to their convenience to view content. During user research, include participants with different disabilities. Understand how they access websites and what assistive technologies they use, such as ZoomText, screen readers, and more. This will help the designers incorporate elements easily readable by these technologies.
Structural And Content Elements
Meaningful links instead of Click Here will make users understand what they are redirected to. Designers must use colors, graphics, and textures to convey important information. Repeated components must be placed consistently throughout the web design. Page titles, headings, labels, and interactive controls should be as informative as possible. Incorporating multiple ways to access a web page is also helpful in improving accessibility.
Device Independent Design
The UX design should be independent of specific functionalities of any design. Interactions should allow every user access to the content they need. Access control based on sensory characteristics should be avoided as much as possible. While incorporating device motion for app access is interactive, it automatically eliminates people who can’t use or don’t have the motion activation feature. Experience flow should be fluid irrespective of the portrait or landscape orientation. When touch targets are included in the design, ensure that they are distinct so that people with mobility impairments can use them too.
Your website should contain features that can be accessed even if the users use the keyboard alone for interactions. Incorporating keyboard shortcuts will help access content easier. The design should follow a logical tab order. Including the ‘Skip to main content’ link is also useful to enable keyboard users to reach essential content with few keystrokes.
Avoid Seizure Inducing Elements
Bright and flashy content in animations should be avoided as much as possible. The flashing content should not be on more than 3 times per second, and such content should have low contrast. Avoid elements that constantly change colors or designs. If those elements are necessary, include a warning and provide an option to skip them.
Descriptive Media Elements
When incorporating images, include alternate text that screen readers can read out. Create descriptions for any image you place and ensure that screen readers skip decorative images. Allow users to pause, hide, or stop blinking, scrolling, and moving content. Include captions and transcripts for audio and video elements on the website.
Despite the roadblocks, a reputable UX development company will find a way to use existing technologies to incorporate accessibility-first design. Detailed user research for different personas and using assistive technologies during the testing phase will help the design team to understand accessibility. Whenever possible, conduct inclusive user testing for the interface. When UX designers concentrate on creating accessible design elements in the design phase, it is possible to create a user interface that offers a much better user experience for everyone accessing it.
Apptread is a reliable UX development company that has been helping enterprises to revamp the user journey experience for their customers. Contact us to improve accessibility in UX design to increase user engagement and experience.