An idiot’s guide to inclusive web design

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Inclusivity has become quite the buzzword. It spans everything from business practices, social structures, political policies, and marketing. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination. As the world continues marching towards blanket digitalisation, inclusive web design is becoming an important business practice.

In the UK there are an estimated 12.9 million people living with various disabilities. And, as well as the disabilities, there are linguistic challenges that also hinder people from fluently interacting with websites.

70% of websites in the UK have been found to be inaccessible to impaired users. That means the websites are missing out on a spending power of over £200 billion.

So, this idiot’s guide to inclusive web design is necessary for all those businesseslooking to make sure that they’re reaching every possible customer.

Why inclusive design is important

In a nutshell, inclusive design means websites, apps, and browsers are built with everyone in mind. That includes everyone that is impaired in some way.

In other words, it means creating usable, functional and easy-to-use products that meet the needs of as many individuals as possible.

But that doesn’t mean designing a one-size-fits-all experience; rather, it aims to please a diverse range of people and to accommodate a variety of interactive experiences. Whilst assistive devices aim to remove a barrier for people with impairments, inclusive design aims to fundamentally create products so that the barrier does not exist.

Fortunately, designers and developers have started to pay much more attention to this lately.

Making your digital products accessible to everyone

Designing for accessibility might be difficult. The temptation might be not to bother with that. That’s up to you, however, there is a lot of potential customers that you are chasing away if that’s what you choose to do.So, let’s make it a little more digestible.

According to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, there is a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities, including low vision, hearing loss, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, and photosensitivity.

There are three levels of conformance to WCAG guidelines:

1.A — basic accessibility requirements satisfied

2.AA — medium-scale accessibility requirements satisfied

3.AAA — high-volume accessibility requirements satisfied

So, how do we make sure that the basic accessibility requirements have been satisfied?

Keep a clear layout

Messy design or chaotic layout full of cluttered and illogical groups of information. If it looks messy, and your eye isn’t drawn easily to the information,then your content might exclude people with learning disabilities, or cognitive deficiencies.

There is no law demanding these people stay on your website, so if the design is messy and chaotic, you could be worsening your bounce rate; especially for people with disabilities and impairments.

Make big buttons

It might sound childish, and it might change the look of your website substantially; however, large buttons are a great way of making sure that you are designing your website with inclusivity. It makes your call-to-action approachable and noticeable.

People with sight impairments, for instance, will appreciate the direct and obvious approach you have paved for them on your website.

Test keyboard navigation

Some physical disabilities present problems with dexterity, and your website should be designed with this in mind. Testing your web-design prototype is always important. Don’t forget, however, to test your keyboard navigation.

Go from left to right. Up and down. Test Tab and Enter, and make sure you can navigate through the entire site without using a mouse.

Not even once.

This is a really integral aspect of web accessibility and it impacts people with varying disabilities.

Provide captions for video

It is a common occurrence, watching videos that are not recorded in your mother tongue. That is what subtitles are for, in fact. But consider those people with hearing losses. They don’t necessarily need a translator from Spanish to English. They need to have muffled translated into clarity.

Make sure you provide captions for every video on your website, and don’t put a video on autoplay.

Wrapping up

Inclusivity is more than just a buzzword cooked up by some hyper-woke millennials. Inclusivity is more important than that. It is about making sure that EVERYONE has an equitable opportunity with your business.

Design really covers the disabled demographics, but in marketing, it is a wider branch of thought. It attempts to transcend creed, race and sexuality. It is the moral playground in which we find ourselves attempting to create new products and services.

If you have anything to add to the conversation, please leave a comment below.

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