Why and How to Design for Accessibility

Making your website or app more accessible makes it more useful for everyone.

When creating custom website designs, it’s essential to make sure that the aesthetic and functional design choices made are as inclusive of all website users as possible. Doing so will make the website better for everyone.

We’re Different. We’re the Same.

Users of websites and online tools are often very different in age, education, cultural background, and more. They have different levels of experience with computers and mobile devices and often have different physical characteristics that affect how they interact with technology (color blindness, physical handicap, etc.). But at the end of the day, they just want to complete their intended action on the website and be on their way. This core similarity is what designing for accessibility is all about. Making websites easier for all users to access the information they’re looking for.

Accessibility Does Not Hinder Design

Designs are always created within a set of constraints; client needs, budget, timeline, scope, etc. Accessibility issues are just an additional set of constraints that need to be considered while creating a design. Many designers working with accessibility constraints for the first time may think that these constraints will make their designs less interesting, cluttered, or dull. This is not the case. Accessibility constraints instead lead to more creative and effective solutions that are a better experience for all of your users.

Key Accessibility Issues to Consider

There are a variety of accessibility issues that may affect users of your website. Some key accessibility issues to consider while making design decisions include:

  • Visual impairments (ex: poor vision, color blindness)
  • Mobility impairments (ex: arm or hand injury, wheelchair use)
  • Auditory impairments (ex: hearing difficulties)
  • Learning/Cognitive impairments (ex: dyslexia)

In addition, accessibility issues may not always be permanent. Users may have permanent, temporary, or situational accessibility issues. Microsoft has a handy inclusive design toolkit that highlights how inclusive design can benefit users. Included within is a helpful table about different types of temporary and permanent accessibility issues (shown below).

Drawing of different disabilities

Helpful Tools

  • Stark – Accessibility plugin that can check many things, including; color contrast, color blindness, touch targets, text size, and more. It’s available for a variety of apps and is also available as a standalone Mac app.
  • A11y – Plugin for Figma that checks color contrast on all visible text within an artboard.
  • Color Blind – Plugin for Figma that shows what a design will look like in the eight different types of color vision deficiencies.

Further Reading and Resources

Inclusive Design Benefits All

Remember, making your website or app more accessible makes it more useful for everyone. Making things easier for your users builds trust in your brand, leads to greater customer satisfaction, and higher conversions.

We can help you make your next web project more accessible and inclusive, leading to increased growth and profitability. Contact us today.

About the Author

Rex Rainey

Rex loves all things design but specializes in branding, web design, and illustration. He’s worked professionally as a designer, art director, and creative lead, at various interactive and branding agencies, since the mid-2000s. When not working, you can find Rex spending time with his family, watching the latest comic book movie/tv series, or deciding which sixth scale collectible he should purchase next.

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