Have you heard of inclusive web design? If you haven’t, the idea behind it is simple: considering the needs of a variety of people in the entire design process. Inclusive web design means focusing on those people who are engaging with your website and not necessarily the technologies they used in reaching your site. So whether you are commissioning the services of a web design company in Manila, Cebu or anywhere in the Philippines, understand that a user-centric approach is a critical part of the process of making the website more accessible. Here are the basic principles.
1) Be flexible
Flexibility must be evident in your approaches. Indeed, web redesign is subjective since it depends on business requirements on one hand and user needs and behaviors on the other hand. The concern should be serving the users up to the littlest of details. This is feasible by providing options for the users and through building for various outcomes.
2) Be equitable
Equitable is very different from equal. When you say equal, for instance, it means that the users should see the same website regardless of which device is used in browsing. Equitability, on the other hand, means providing different user experiences (UX) but with the same valuable outcomes.
3) Be intuitive
Simplicity is key wherein you apply the less is more concept especially if more is not a suitable option. This is all about the features and functions of the site, and how each can provide value to the overall experience of the user while at the site. There is no room for complexity; users are not willing to contemplate on how to use the site. Technology is an enabler that should make life easy and that includes your website.
4) Be informative
Ongoing communication that provides users with the right information at the right time and at the right place is a must. From the first instance that a user steps on your website, you should maintain a dialogue with him or her that should continue throughout his or her journey on your site. Being informative when it comes to design is giving the user choice and control over his or her navigation and interaction within the site.
5) Be perceptible
Perceptibility is relative; what is valuable for one user may not necessarily so for another user. The secret is designing the website as if kindergartens will use it. Think of yourself as a first-time user. What would you want your website to include, so it is navigation-friendly? Assume nothing. Demonstrate various ways to communicate information.
6) Be preventative
About 99% of the websites carry either simple or complex interactions from clicking a link to buying a product. While interacting with the site, there should as minimal to zero errors on the part of the users. These errors must be minimized so users will begin to trust your website. If an error occurs, correct it accordingly. Make the users feel supported. The trust built by the simple processes will reflect on the market performance of your brand.
7) Be tolerant
Mistakes are inevitable despite having preventive measures. When a user makes a mistake, be tolerant. Your website’s goal should be helping users in building confidence over your site and thereby your brand. So, while being preventative builds trust, being tolerant reinforces reliability and influence.
8) Be accommodating
Being accommodating means strategic use of space. The website should not be either overwhelming or underwhelming. There should be a balance between space and contents even if the site is minimalist. Make the users comfortable – with enough room for maneuvering – so they will start navigating their way through the site and explore it further.
9) Be consistent
A familiar environment is key in creating a pleasant user experience. Make sure that you understand conventions that guide the web design world today. It is okay to break some rules only if it is deemed appropriate for the site.
10) Be effortless
Websites should do most of the work, and not the users. That’s how to make a hassle-free and easily-navigable site. Another thing, users must not be privy to the hard work exerted to make the website work. The site should not make demands from the users; it shouldn’t be too restrictive as well otherwise the user will go elsewhere. Less mental strain means less effort, resulting in happy users who can easily and efficiently interact with your site.
In making your website more accessible to the users, one critical thing to do is to research your audience. You need to know more about your users demographically. These are the user personas or simply the categorization of will be using your site. Some factors to look at are:
- Technical abilities
- Languages spoken
- Ethnicity or cultural background
- Geographic locations
- Age range and age groups
- Internet connection
- Devices used
- Browser used and browser settings
Some of the information that can provide context to the site’s accessibility is readily available on Google Analytics. Only after knowing what your users need in reality that website accessibility must be planned. Scope out features and functionalities and consider ways on how to deploy them in manners that will provide the users with choices.
Ask, think, observe, scope, plan, prototype and test. With all these, you will surely come up with an easily accessible site.
A website is like a puzzle with pieces that should fit perfectly together to make it work. The secret of producing a highly-accessible website is complying with the principles of an inclusive design. This gives each piece of a puzzle an opportunity to shine during the user’s site exploration. While changes may take a time to effect, you will never go wrong with designing with the users in mind.
Inclusive web design is an instrument in creating great and meaningful experiences. That is, web designers and developers must exert all efforts in making sure that they accommodate diverse ways on how users access a particular website. In ensuring a high-quality UX, factors such as devices, browsers and assistive technologies among others must be in the mind of the website developer.
Image credit: EOC.org