How To Design More Usable And Accessible Web For Everyone

alkatherifaizah profile image Faizah Alkatheri ・4 min read

We are fast soaked every aspect of our lives with digital technology. There will be as many as 200,000 billion connected digital devices in the world by 2020. Therefore, the quality of experience a user should have when interacting with a specific design has become very important, this is referred to as User Experience (UX).

There is serious responsibility falling into our hands (UX designers) to develop more comprehensive and appropriate ethical standards by which we practice our profession: how far should we go with our designs? What we should and shouldn’t build? It’s key to examine the objectives of what we are building and see if we align with the objectives of our users.

Human-First Design Leads To Inclusiveness
User is a very generic label and what most of us tend to forget is that all users are human first. Humans have a hidden blueprint for how they recognize and process the world around them. As designers, we can use some key principles from psychology as a guide for designing how people actually are instead of forcing users to comply with the design of a product or experience. Humans have evolved to grow in a natural environment. Therefore, every designer should learn the basics of psychology — yes, we can build more specific, human-centered products and experiences.

With “Human-first” design we seek to optimize human wellness in the design. We cannot expect that humans will be able to intuitively interact with a digital application if it does not fit within natural constraints. Now this is the challenge: it is not possible to determine whether something is accessible unless we know the user, the context, and the goal.

Universal design is about creating a common design that works for everyone. However, we are dealing with digital design, our design considerations are very different from the non-digital. We have the freedom, and we can create a design system that should adapt, moph, or stretch to address each design need presented by each individual.

Different Psychological Aspects In Web Users
Accessibility and inclusiveness mean designing to be inclusive of as many users as possible, considering all aspects of diversity in users. Combining accessibility standards and usability processes with real people ensures that a design is technically and functionally usable by people with different psychological states. With increased understanding, compassionate and discussions around this topic, inclusive design considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age, and other forms of human difference.

Even though the designers or authors see motion as beneficial, it can distract users who struggle with inattention from what they came to your site to do. Most of the time, visitors glance at the page, scan some of the text, and click the first link that catches their attention or seems to resemble what they are looking for. Poor design reduces clarity and increases errors; some interactions take so long that they become extremely difficult for those with inattention. Motion distracts them, even when neurotypical people, or those not characterized by neurological patterns, are fine.

Nobody goes to your site not knowing why they are there. If users go to your site to solve a problem, they need to know where to find the solution. The problem maybe common to all users, but users with anxiety will struggle more when they can’t find the answers they need when the way forward is unclear. Hiding key information, such as contact details or account-deactivation instructions, in difficult-to-reach corners of websites can result in users feeling helpless.

If we’re asking the user for any personal information, like a phone number — privacy is a huge concern, especially for users suffering from social anxiety who dread getting unexpected phone calls. If it’s not immediately obvious why a piece of information is needed in your form, add a bit of help text to explain it. But if you don’t have a good reason or can’t clearly explain why you need it, get rid of the field. Going hand in hand with the unpredictability of websites and apps is the overwhelming sense of powerlessness they can provoke. Every form and action should be clearly labeled with a headline that plainly states what the form does.

Humans use knowledge they already have from past experiences when interacting with something new. Whether it’s a website or a car, they form models of how a system works, and then they apply that mental model to new situations where the system is similar. Designers spend a lot of time thinking about the people who use their website but there’s one thing that “personas” almost always have in common — they’re all happy. Let me tell you something, if your site or app is hard to use, many depressed users will simply not use it.

Assuming that users are so in love with your content that they will read and view every bit of it is naive and creates a significant barrier for depressed users. Large blocks of endless content, like wall-to-wall files, force users to sift through it to find what they are looking for. If content requires significant effort to locate, it will be ignored by depressed users. It’s much easier to interpret and memorize a well-formatted content (chunked) with appropriate headline treatments, line-length, and content length in comparison to a “wall of text”.

In Conclusion
To make your site accessible is to ensure no barriers prevent people from accessing the content. For instance, make less decisions in the interface so your users can make more decisions for it. Accessibility practitioners and researchers can incorporate usability techniques to improve ‘usable accessibility’. Addressing accessibility, usability, and inclusion together can more effectively lead to a more accessible, usable, and inclusive web for everyone.

Happy designing!


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