In March, we released an article emphasising the significance of granting technological resources to the masses. It is our firm belief that by promoting accessibility, tech is made available to everybody irrespective of their technical expertise or physical capabilities. Currently, we are contemplating the positive impact of accessibility, not only in helping people feel at ease, but also in empowering them to engage with the world in a more advanced way, without leaving anyone behind.
The release of the article coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. As the virus permeated globally, the significance of expedient access to resources became more apparent than ever before. The lockdowns made it necessary to rely on technology for work, education, and daily routine, and this posed grave difficulties for many people. Moreover, the additional challenge of unfamiliarity with digital tools piled on top of the complexities of the illness itself.
Numerous technologies that we rely on today are ubiquitous, yet proved to be problematic for some owing to their intricacies and the unavailability of appropriate accessibility features. Nevertheless, it can be contended that if we all comply with accessibility protocols, it could result in lesser concerns for novice users.
Taking measures to resolve accessibility concerns in digital technology is of paramount importance. This poses significant implications and hence, quick resolution may not be feasible. Nevertheless, we should initiate our endeavours without delay. As a step towards this objective, I have furnished some recommendations aimed at enhancing accessibility, especially with regard to user interfaces.
In user interface (UI) design, incorporating accessibility is indispensable, and to guarantee convenience for the users, we should implement the following five measures. Let us first understand the meaning of accessibility in UI, and then go over these simple steps designed to make UI more accessible.
To put it simply, what does User Interface Accessibility entail?
To make any product (be it digital or not) accessible, it is vital to enhance its user-friendliness, enabling individuals of all abilities to use it easily. This necessitates designing the product with the objective of endowing every user with an equivalent, first-rate experience.
In order to ensure accessibility, it is important to devise ways to render the user interface (UI) transparent, effortless, and instinctive for all users, including those with visual, auditory, cognitive or motor disabilities, individuals with environmental or circumstantial constraints, and those with inadequate or no digital expertise.
Integrating accessibility for people with disabilities into the design of user interface involves a multifaceted process that calls for innovative thinking. To ensure favourable results, it is crucial to comply with the following three UI accessibility guidelines:
Clear:User interfaces must have uncluttered designs with distinct navigation options that are clearly visible.
Robust:A product’s accessibility is gauged by its capability to cater to the requirements of as many individuals as possible, regardless of their unique circumstances.
Specific:The UI should fully utilise accessibility tools (such as those available in a mobile OS) to enhance accessibility.
Keeping this in perspective, take a look at the accessibility suggestions for your user interface.
Incorporate Contrast and ColorDesigning software while considering UI accessibility is imperative, with the use of color and contrast playing a pivotal role in achieving this goal. By incorporating both, you can assure that your interface is accessible to all users, including those with visual impairments such as color blindness. Effective utilization of color and contrast can guide users to vital features, and offer assistance with navigating the interface.
To accomplish this, it’s vital to choose colors that are distinguishable from each other, and to ensure that there’s an appropriate amount of white space to emphasize the contrast. The most effective color contrasts can be employed to highlight the most important elements, such as buttons that make the primary call to action or menu items linking to customer support.
Remember that contrast isn’t limited to hue alone. You can achieve the same effect by utilizing fonts of contrasting sizes, colors, or even styles.
Mind The Visual Order of ThingsBy giving due consideration to contrast and color, you are more likely to create a well-proportioned interface with an apparent visual hierarchy. This is what we refer to as the harmonious relationship between components, with the most critical ones immediately evident while the rest create a logical framework to the narrative.
The significance of the storyboard cannot be underestimated, as the interpretation of your user interface is significantly influenced by where and how specific elements are positioned (in other words, you are attempting to communicate how you want the users to perceive and use the interface). Minimizing the visual clutter in your displays is one approach to improve the visual hierarchy. Identify the essential requirements for each element and design around them while keeping costs low.
It is important to note that some users may require assistance while using your product, even if you employ a user-friendly design. To ensure that everyone can use your app, website or any other product you are developing, it’s vital to make the information accessible and use an easy-to-read font.
Carefully Include Interactive Elements.With the memory of days gone by, when web designers would add as many interactive elements to their websites as possible purely for fun, we must consider the potential impact this could have on user accessibility. Although the aesthetic appeal of a product may be enhanced by the use of these elements, it is crucial to ensure that this is not at the expense of accessibility, making it more difficult for users to engage.
It’s important to include interactive components to provide users with a more engaging experience, but it’s equally important to ensure that these features are not overused. When considering the inclusion of an interactive feature, it’s important to evaluate its value to the customer. For example, offering a subtle popup that directs less tech-savvy individuals to a chatbot may be very beneficial in providing answers to their questions.
To enhance the user experience and make content more accessible, interactive components must be modern and relevant. Testing your product and obtaining specific feedback about its interactive elements is the best way to determine whether they are a success, particularly from potential users who may have initial accessibility concerns.
Give People the Option to Resize Their DisplaysIt’s important to understand that users of your product may access it on a range of screen sizes and orientations. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your product is flexible enough to cater to these varying settings. This was briefly mentioned in the visual hierarchy section but deserves further attention.
Responsive design is recommended as the benchmark of flexibility when developing any new product. However, this should not be the only approach considered. The user interface can be tailored to individual requirements, as demonstrated by innovative applications such as Mozilla Firefox, which allows users to customize their buttons and instructions.
It is important to make customers aware of the customization options available to them. This has a dual significance. Firstly, customers should be informed of the customization options from the start of using the product. Secondly, when designing an accessible user interface, the accessibility settings should be clearly visible, instead of being hidden in a secondary menu.
Put It Through Its Paces, Then Do It AgainIt’s impossible to anticipate the accessibility requirements of an audience, even if the most comprehensive list of user interface accessibility guidelines is available. To ensure a product is user-friendly, it’s important to perform accessibility testing with actual users and consider their feedback.
By taking this step, you can gain valuable insights into how users are perceiving and utilizing your UI. To make your UI more user-friendly, it’s recommended that you collect data from tests to better understand the unique perspectives of your target audience.
Incorporating testing into the design process is crucial. Even if you’re confident that the user interface is faultless, it’s still advisable to test it in a real environment. It’s better to identify and resolve any issues through a managed testing group before releasing the product to the public, rather than attempting to fix them post-launch.
The Time Has Come To Prioritize User Interface Accessibility
It’s worth noting that the information presented here is only an introduction to accessible user interface design. It’s crucial to further explore the possibilities of accessibility, particularly concerning niche platforms, gadgets, and target demographics. We recommend conducting more in-depth research in these areas to create a fully accessible user interface.
If you’re still unconvinced of the significance of accessibility, I highly recommend reading the arguments presented in the March article. Ultimately, I’m confident that you’ll acknowledge the advantages it can offer you, your business, your customers, and society as a whole.