10 Ways to Make Your Site More Accessible

In our quest to design the most engaging experiences, we sometimes forget that not everyone is exactly like us. Living as I do in my high-speed digital bubble, I actively remind myself at the start of every project during business requirements gathering and user research that as designers, it behooves us to understand the needs of our audience. It’s not our clients’ responsibility to include accessibility in their project briefs; it’s our duty to understand whether the target audience and users of what we’re designing have any needs that may affect our design decisions.

These needs don’t even need to concern screen readers or other adaptive or assistance technology. I like to use myself as an example. Video content is all the rage; the data tells us that Canadians watch a lot of videos, according to comScore’s most recent research data.

comscore_canadian_video_consumptionAll this data notwithstanding, there are a lot of busy people out there. And people like me, who are not only busy, but also impatient. I do a lot of research, and I’m always on a tight deadline. This means that I don’t have the time to watch a video. I can get at the information much faster by scanning a transcript than sitting through a 3-minute video. If you offer me a transcript that I can scan, I’ll be more likely to save your video to view later when I have time and share it. So, when you make video content accessible by providing a transcript, you’re reaching not only those who have hearing or visual impairment, you’ll also be reaching someone like me who is impatient.

Last night, the studio where I work, Devlin Digital, hosted the Accessibility and Inclusive Design meetup group. With Ryan Burgess (@coveredfilth) and ex-Devlinite Billy Gregory (@thebillygregory) leading, we had a lively discussion about the 10 ways we can make websites more accessible from a code perspective. None of those 10 ways cramp my design style; in fact, they make me think and work harder to create better designs. Designs that ensure that all of my clients’ customers can access the content that my clients have invested valuable dollars in creating.


Challenging Assumptions

We tend to assume that work that’s guided by best practices will almost automatically be well received. The premises behind this assumption are:

  1. best practices have come about through empirical validation over time
  2. most people would intuitively recognize something “good”.

Maybe it’s just me.

In any case, my little bubble was burst today.

Here are two form designs. Which one do you consider to be more usable and more aesthetically pleasing?

Moo.com | a great experience

I just ordered my personal calling cards from moo.com, and I loved every minute of the user experience.
The site has a clean interface that's easy to navigate, the designing process was fun, the ordering process was easy, and (here's the geek in me) best of all, the confirmation email was cute beyond words. Here's an excerpt of the email I received from Little Moo, the Print Robot:

I'm Little MOO – the bit of software that will be managing your order
with us. It will shortly be sent to Big MOO, our print machine who will
print it for you in the next few days. I'll let you know when it's done
and on its way to you.
Flickr users, listen up: Please do not remove the photos from your
account, or change their privacy settings, until your order has been
printed, or some pictures may come out blank.
Remember, I'm just a bit of software. So, if you have any questions
regarding your order please first read our Frequently Asked Questions
and if you're still not sure, contact customer services (who are real
people) at:
Little MOO, Print Robot

Such a great human touch to an automated message.  I just love that! It's what I tell clients to do all the time, but somehow, very few are willing to add that human touch.
PS A word about my personal cards. I created a series of four cards, each card representing one of my four core values. I hope their recipients like them. 🙂