Make it Easier—On Everyone

Accessibilty Image
Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash

I am fascinated by web design. Lots of sites are cool, but what really matters is whether they WORK—for everyone. Accessibility of your site—to those whose online experience differs from the general population—is, to me, one of the most important things to consider when building or refreshing your site. Among the many tricks of the trade, here are just of few of the most important and easiest ways to make sure your site is an optimal experience.

Use simple colors

Some users may experience sensitivity to sensory information such as color, which can cause anxiety or pain. Use a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for text and test it with your users to get the right balance.

Write in plain English

Users on the autism spectrum perceive language differently and might take figures of speech and idioms literally. Writing in clear, plain language will mean your content is understood by more people.

Don't create a wall of text.

Lots of unbroken text can be hard to focus on making it frustrating to read for those with vision issues. Breaking text down into simple sentences and using bullets for important points will make your content easier to digest.

Make buttons and links descriptive

Not knowing what will happen after clicking a button or link can cause users stress and confusion. Descriptive buttons and links will help users know what to expect and give them a sense of control.

Build simple and consistent layouts

Complex and cluttered layouts can be overwhelming for users to process. Make your layout predictable and consistent. Put common components such as navigation and search on the top of a page in a highly visible area.

Use subtitles or provide transcripts for videos

Don't put content in audio or video only. Users who are deaf or hard of hearing will need to access videos in a visual way. Videos should include subtitles, a transcript, or a Sign Language interpreter.

Allow users to request their preferred communication method

A deaf or hard of hearing user may not be able to answer a phone call. Allow for people to specify how they want to be contacted.

Use a combination of color, shapes and text to convey meaning

Color vision deficiency (color blindness) is a common condition which makes it difficult to identify certain colors. This can make it hard to understand elements like buttons and graphs which rely only on color to convey information. Use other signifiers like text labels or different styles of dashed lines in those cases.