UX Design Best Practices
With most of the measures to curb the pandemic considerably limiting social gatherings and physical contact, lots of businesses now invest significantly in building a robust online presence. Besides serving as outlets for providing useful information to the general public about their products, websites help companies generate valuable leads and increase sales.
Although most businesses optimize their websites to ensure that they’re user-friendly, people living with disabilities often find it challenging to access many websites.
Importance of Making Websites Accessible for the Disabled
Businesses with websites that the disabled can easily access stand to enjoy lots of benefits. These include:
With official statistics showing that about 15 percent of the world’s population live with one form of disability or the other, websites must be accessible for people living with disabilities.
Since web visitors will quickly return to a site that they enjoyed interacting with, boosting web accessibility for the disabled will increase web traffic and eventually increase sales.
Business owners who optimize their websites to allow easier access for people with disabilities enjoy a healthier reputation. Although most organizations give no thought to public sentiment, putting in the effort goes a long way in improving any business’s public image.
Besides reducing a website’s traffic, failing to optimize websites for easier access to the disabled also has profound legal implications.
As part of efforts to make sure that individuals with disabilities enjoy full access to products and services, the US lists accessibility requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
With almost 1,000 lawsuits filed in federal courts in only the US in recent years, it’s impossible to ignore the threat of legal action against errant website owners.
However, you can boost web accessibility for the disabled by improving UX.
What Is UX?
UX refers to user experience and describes how a user interacts with a service or product – a website in this context. It encompasses the user’s understanding of the service and ease of use.
As any site’s success depends mostly on how easily visitors interact with it, web designers devote significant attention to UX design.
Although most UX designs make websites user-friendly for individuals without disabilities, disabled people may find it impossible to access such websites for various reasons.
Tips for Boosting Web Accessibility for the Disabled with UX
Several measures could be put in place during the UX design to improve web accessibility for the disabled. Some of these include:
Provide Keyboard Navigation
As many people living with disabilities have difficulties moving, you might want to ensure that websites are accessible with keyboards.
Enabling websites to be accessed with keyboards allows visitors to navigate the website’s entire pages and give commands with only their keyboards. Hence, the website navigation must follow a logical visual pattern going either ‘right to left’ or ‘top to bottom.’
Structure Content in HTML
Since a larger percentage of web content is written text, people with visual impairments may find it difficult or impossible to appreciate it. Therefore, consider optimizing websites for screen readers.
Screen readers convert digital text into speech following a linear pattern. Hence, structure web content in HTML to ensure that web visitors who use screen readers have no trouble understanding what they hear.
Provide Larger Clickable Areas
Besides helping people with visual impairments see the CTAs and relevant buttons on your website clearly, providing larger clickable areas makes it easier for people with mobility issues to navigate your site.
Since most of these individuals use touch controls, the recommended clickable area should be 40pt*40pt large.
Make Multimedia Accessible
With lots of website owners including audio and video content to drive traffic and increase user engagement, it’s essential to make this multimedia content accessible to the disabled.
Depending on the type of impairment, there are several ways to make multimedia content accessible to people living with disabilities.
For example, you could provide audio descriptions for visuals-only parts of multimedia to help visually impaired visitors enjoy videos on the site. You could also make synchronized captions available for videos to help people with hearing difficulties.
Improve Text Clarity
The written text needs to be clear enough to ensure that web visitors have no trouble reading them.
Font styles such as Calibri, Arial, and Times New Roman are the most recommended. Besides using the recommended font styles for your web content, consider prioritizing text clarity when choosing the website display theme.
Enable Font Enlargement
Depending on the type and severity of visual impairment, people living with disabilities might have trouble seeing the default font size of web content. Hence, you might want to provide settings that allow them to increase the font size.
Although tables are efficient means of presenting data, they reduce web accessibility for visually impaired individuals who use screen readers.
Screen readers may tell how many rows and columns make up a table, but they might not read the data using the correct flow. This shortcoming often leaves the visually impaired visitor bored or confused.
However, it’s best to present data using CSS.
Add Clearer Link Descriptions
Providing extra details for each link on your website will help visitors differentiate each one. Such descriptions will go a long way in allowing them to decide if they wish to follow that link or not and save them some time.
How to Test for Web Accessibility
Web designers can boost web accessibility for the disabled by putting several measures in place. However, consider performing website accessibility testing to ensure that the website meets the minimum web accessibility requirements.
It’s possible to test for website accessibility in two ways, automated or manual testing. However, you might want to combine both methods to ensure full compliance. W3 Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List provides a large number of methods and tools.
You could also test for website accessibility using various online tools. However, it’s essential to note that these tools focus primarily on technical issues and may not detect all your website issues.
Therefore, consider testing for website accessibility too manually.
You could test for website accessibility by allowing people with disabilities to access the website and offer their feedback. With this testing method, you’re in a better position to understand their challenges and obtain a more comprehensive result of your website accessibility.
With increasing awareness about the challenges people with disabilities face, the need to ensure that websites are inclusive has never been more urgent.
However, web designers can make websites more accessible to people with disabilities by paying more attention to UX.