When it comes to creating a great website design, it is essential that you focus your efforts into making your web pages accessible to all users. That’s where inclusivity in web design comes in. Today, we are going to give you the complete guide on the basic principles of inclusive web design and tips on creating more accessible websites here.
Understanding Inclusivity & Accessibility In Web Design
To understand the importance of inclusivity and accessibility in web design, you need to understand the purpose of it first. Ensuring inclusivity in web design can help you make your content available to all users from different walks of life, and ensure that every individual is able to use your website and its contents without experiencing unnecessary difficulties.
In other words, inclusivity in website design takes into account that individuals will have different needs–be it due to differences in culture, ethnicity, language, situation or impairments.
At the end of the day, inclusive web design benefits everyone–it is in your best interest to make your content and website accessible to all people, and it is a very basic principle that no individual should feel excluded when interacting with any web content.
Things To Consider For Inclusive Web Design
So how exactly do you go about creating inclusive web content?
When you are talking about inclusivity in web design, you are basically thinking about accessibility and usability. Both of these elements are essentials of inclusive design, and it considers three basic factors.
Ability – this takes into account the ability of your site visitor to access your web content as comfortably and easily as possible. You will need to consider both physical and cognitive limitations. For instance, screen readers have made it possible for those visual impairments to interact with online and digital content.
Attitude – when we are talking about attitude, we are basically considering how tech savvy your site visitors might be. Ensuring that your website or app design has clear instructions on how to interact with your content can help certain groups of people, such as senior users, feel more confident in using your web creations.
Aptitude – when you are thinking of making your web design inclusive, you cannot make assumptions about the expertise of your site visitors when it comes to using online or digital content. Design your website by focusing on how easy it would be for someone without much experience to use your website, place orders, submit a request, etc.
By taking these three factors into account, you will be able to develop several user personas and their characteristics, which will help you create a design that is as accessible to as many people as people.
7 Principles Of Inclusive Web Design
Now that you have an understanding of why inclusivity in web design is important, we can move on to the next important question: how do you create accessible websites?
What do we mean by equity? In the context of inclusivity in web design, equity refers to how easily you can generate equal results for all users–regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds–when they interact with your website.
In other words, equity in web design means your website design will give the same user experience to every individual.
As the name suggests, flexibility refers to how versatile your website is for diverse groups of people. For instance, when you provide a transcript for a video that is embedded on your website, that’s called flexibility, because you are allowing users to access the content on your site through alternative means.
3. Ease Of Use
This refers to how easily your users can interact with your website. For instance, having a scroll to top button on your website can help your site visitors to easily navigate to the top of your page instantly.
Another example of ease of use in web design could be adding auto-completion for input fields in forms, click-to-copy on discount coupons, and even adding anchor links to text to quickly skip to a later section.
The easier it is for users to perform a particular action on your website, the more accessible your website is. Thus, inclusive web design is not just about how you are adding extra alternatives to access your content, but also about how easy you are making it to interact with existing elements on your web page.
When we are talking about perception, we mean that you need to consider the perspective of your site visitors when they land on any page. A specific design or element that you perceive as relevant may not actually be important to your site visitor.
For instance, suppose you have published a blog post that mostly contains infographics. However, site visitors unable to process visual content will not find your infographics valuable to them. Therefore, you are not really considering their perspective, and thus are not able to create an inclusive web site design.
Another great example was given by Ahmed Khalifa, an experienced WordPress SEO specialist, during his session on making video captions accessible during WordCamp Europe 2020.
One of the key highlights of his session was that there’s no point in providing captions for sounds that your audience cannot recognize. Therefore when it comes to inclusivity and accessibility, it’s important to evaluate your decisions from the perception of those who will consume your content.
What does accommodation mean? Usually, we only think about accommodation when we are thinking about physical spaces. However, the rules apply to digital content as well.
Just as you would need to ensure accommodation in a brick-and-mortar store so that any customer can enter, browse and purchase without facing unnecessary difficulties, your website needs to be accommodating to site visitors too.
In fact, as websites are considered by the law to be “places of public accommodation”, your site visitors can take legal action if you do not ensure accessible and inclusive website design.
What kind of errors are we talking about? Consider your Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons. If your CTA buttons are not clearly visible or large enough to click on, then your click-through-rates will certainly drop.
Having a consistent, cohesive web design not only helps enhance your branding, but it also creates less confusion among your website visitors. Displaying the same element on your website in different ways might be a little too jarring for your site visitors. Instead, you should allow your site visitors to get an idea of your website design and structure through a consistent design system.
Tips For Incorporating Inclusivity In Web Design
Now that you are familiar with the 7 basic principles of inclusive web design, here are some tips on how you can incorporate inclusivity into your next website design projects.
Make All Interactive Elements Easier To Click
As we mentioned above, if the elements on your website are not easy for every individual to interact with, then you need to work on making your design more accessible. Use larger elements, with enough spacing and contrasting colors so that such elements are clearly visible and easy to click.
Use Clear, Simple, And Readable Typography
One of the most important aspects of inclusive web design is that you need to use clear, simple and easy to read typography. Also avoid using multiple different types of fonts throughout your website design as that could break consistency and make it confusing for site visitors.
Follow Accessibility Guidelines For Color Combinations
Seeing how not everyone views colors the same way, it is very important to follow accessibility guidelines for color combinations so that every individual can more or less experience the same visuals when they land on your website. For WordPress websites, you can follow the accessibility color guidelines of WCAG here.
Use Image Alt Texts Appropriately Wherever Needed
Screen readers cannot understand images on your website. Therefore, to help site visitors who use screen readers to interact with your website, you need to add alt texts to your images appropriately.
Image alt texts add context to your images so that screen readers can understand what your image is showing. It is essentially a very brief description of what the purpose of the image is, or what is being shown through the image.
Make Site Navigation Clear And Easy For All Users
Finally, another important tip to help you make more inclusive web designs is by ensuring that your site navigation is clear and easy for all users. Keep your navigation menu fairly straightforward and definitely make sure it’s responsive on all devices. Add important information to your footer areas and include search bars so that visitors can quickly find the content they need.
While there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to inclusivity in web design, the goal should always be to continuously try to make your site visitor’s experience on your website as smooth as possible, and without causing unnecessary difficulties.
That’s why it is important that we consistently listen to feedback and look for new, better ways to make our web designs accessible for all.