In 2020, 1 in 4 adults in the US reported living with a disability. Going forward, accessible design principles aren’t a recommendation—they’re a requirement for effectively engaging with your audience.
“Accessibility enables people with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web.” - Jesse Hausler, Director of Product Accessibility at Salesforce
In 2021, if your website wasn’t designed with accessibility in mind, you’re limiting the ways in which a consumer can relate to and experience your brand.
Accessible design adheres to the standards presented by accessibility legislation, such as the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), to meet specific needs for people with disabilities.
Now, many designers are incorporating universal, inclusive design principles into their projects. Universal design reduces the need to create technologies for the aid of specific groups of people by applying and developing techniques that cater to the needs of a diverse population.
Accessible, universal design is crucial for retraining consumer attention and engagement. If your website design is low-contrast and hard to read, it's doing a disservice to your audience, and in return, your brand.
When your website follows universal design principles, your content becomes accessible to a larger percentage of your audience - benefitting both you as a brand and your consumers. Our branding partner, Nominee, says it best: “we care about the quality of life for all people.” Creating designs that allow all people to interact with the brands they love and trust is the morally right thing to do. Our commitment to that cause means we continue to make and advocate for the use of universal design in the sites we create.
Katja Niggl, a UX/UI designer, states that accessibility fosters innovation because “designing with accessibility in mind forces us to engage with and better understand our users. Accessibility practices make us think in new ways.” Universal design is also a way for audiences to positively interact with your brand - allowing people to digest your content in the way you intended and establishing an environment of trust and brand loyalty.
Elements to Include
While this list is not exhaustive, here are some elements we recommend including on your website.
Mobile-first design allows you to reach a wider audience by catering to people who have difficulty using a mouse or trackpad to navigate the web.
All content should be accessible through the keyboard alone, in order to cater to those who use the keyboard as their main navigation tool.
This allows all audiences, including those with visual impairments, to view content on your site more easily.
You don’t have to get rid of your cool, custom typeface, but including a simple font for key information is important for legibility and comprehension.
If your brand's audience speaks another language, you should provide them with the tools to easily translate your key messages for them.
Alt text and captions
Images and videos should include alt text and closed-captions for people with visual or hearing impairments.
Many consumers need a larger view of text and images; your site should be able to scale to different sizes without losing functionality.
Clear boundaries and labels
Forms without clear boundaries and buttons that aren’t outlined are just a few examples of complicated visuals. Your site should define areas that need to be filled out with clear colors and labels.
There are a wide array of accessibility tools available if you’re looking to boost your website’s accessibility. One paid tool is EqualWeb, who creates plugins used on sites like Headspace and Huggies which allow users to customize web settings for their easiest viewing. Another paid option is AudioEye: they conduct automated tests to find and fix accessibility errors across your website.
If you’re reading this thinking your site needs major adjustments in regards to accessibility, there’s a chance you could benefit from conducting a full web audit. An audit will show you what areas of your website are working well and where there is room for improvement.
We’ve created a DIY web audit to help you identify what your website might be missing. Get yours below and find out if your website is doing its job.