The internet has become such an integral part of most people’s lives. It is the go-to resource for recipes, shopping, jobs, homes, travel, or maintaining contact with loved ones.
However, did you ever realize that not everyone has equal online experiences? Yes, there are now at least one billion people across the world experiencing some form of inability. And in their case, connectivity and website access are not as easy as they should be.
And it is why creating accessible websites would be a priority for any business with an online presence. It is not only morally right, but increased web accessibility means increased traffic and more business.
Besides, an accessibility design will not affect your product’s UX or UI if performed by professionals like us at ADA Site Compliance. We have a team of accessibility experts ready to handle all your website’s compliance needs.
What is an inclusive web design?
Inclusive and accessible web design goes hand in hand. While an all-inclusive design process ensures no group of people’s needs or concerns are overlooked, maintaining accessibility strategies helps keep this in mind.
However, what’s most important while designing an inclusive design is remembering that not every user accesses or interacts with the website similarly. An inclusive design helps remove bias and assumptions from your website so that no user feels excluded.
How to create an inclusive web design persona
Web designers often come up with a persona while designing their projects. It helps them understand how the user will engage with the site. Similarly, there is a persona to follow while designing an inclusive web design which is broken down into:
It also includes the persona:
- Ability where you assess how some users will be physically and cognitively restricted on using and engaging with the website.
- Aptitude, as some users may not be digitally literate. In this case, deviating from basic layouts and not providing sufficient context will not help.
- Attitude as some users may perceive a website to be unsafe because of privacy issues or the risk of encountering malware. You can address these fears through recognized and trusted safety and privacy features.
- Some users may not have internet connectivity at home but have alternatives. They can head to the cafe or library, where connectivity, location, hardware, and software can impact access.
- Localization as it is unsafe to assume that every user lives in the same country or comes from the same culture, or speaks your language. Address these differences in your inclusive user persona.
14 ways to make your website more accessible and inclusive
The following tips will go a long way in helping ensure your website is more accessible and inclusive:
1. Proper content structure
It does not matter how great your website content is if your prospects cannot read them. And this is very likely to happen because 253 million people worldwide suffer from some form of visual disability. You thus risk missing out on connecting with them.
There are various steps to make your content easy to read for users with visual, language, and cognitive disabilities. You can break up the content into smaller sections with headers and subheaders, properly contrast the background and content, and avoid using decorative font.
2. Use the right text size and fonts
A practically microscopic or curly font can be difficult for anyone to decipher. These fonts should be avoided, and only the appropriate ones in an inclusive design process.
The right text size and font size enhance your site’s overall aesthetics and make it accessible to a broader audience. It is safe to use a font like Verdana that is clean, easy to read, and of at least 12pt.
3. Proper language and tone of voice
The website’s tone of voice and language is essential for an accessible and inclusive website. Sites with words like ‘wheelchair-bound’ negatively impact people with disabilities. ‘Wheelchair user’ is a better option.
Similar websites with complex vocabulary and syntax make it difficult for those with learning disabilities and visual impairments to understand your web content.
4. Proper content mark-up
In addition to proper content structure, you must use the correct HTML markup to denote things like a button on a page. Also, use heading tags like H1, H2, etc., through the content to create a visual hierarchy in the front end and a proper code structure in the backend. It also gives context to HTML elements that screen readers and the visually impaired use while browsing.
5. Keyboard navigation
Keyboard accessibility is sufficient in an inclusive design. The visually impaired and those with visual disabilities or with motor disabilities may depend on keyboards to navigate websites. In this case, they use the tab key to select interactive elements on a webpage.
6. Useable focus states
The blue outline you occasionally see around links or buttons is called the focus state. They help people use keyboards to navigate websites by highlighting the selected page elements.
7. Images with alt text
Incorporating alt text into images makes your site more accessible. Alt text is a short text describing the image which screen readers read, making it easier for the visually impaired to understand the image information.
The alt text should provide a clear and relevant image description or be too long. Screen readers find reading overly complicated and repetitive descriptions challenging. Conversely, purely decorative images are marked using an empty <alt> attribute to tell screen readers to skip the image.
8. Form fields with descriptive labels
Your marketing and sales depend on forms, so ensure they are accessible by using descriptive labels in form fields. It is better than using placeholder text as labels, as they typically disappear once you start filling out the form. This is difficult for the visually impaired to read and to remember what the field was for.
You can also ensure users know what to do while filling out forms by using small helper text above the form field.
9. Simple copywriting
Keeping your copy and content clear, plain, and simple without unnecessary jargon helps you reach a larger audience. If you use acronyms or anything technical, provide a glossary of terms or a plain English alternative. It also helps to use the expanded version of the acronym for the first use and use more lists.
10. Proper color contrast
Many tend to overlook a website’s color contrast. While most are not affected by text blocks on differently colored backgrounds, reading the text can be a nightmare for those with vision impairments.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) stipulates that the typical color contrast ratio between text and background be at least 4.5:1. This ensures even those with limited color vision easily read the text. Also, ensure the colors of buttons, links, and other interactive elements stand out from the rest of the content.
11. Know your target audience
Conduct thorough research about your target audience for a deeper understanding of your audience and to design a more inclusive design. You can use your CRM and audience surveys and study website behavior trends to learn more about your target audience.
12. Proper representation
Audience research helps you understand your customers’ backgrounds, perspectives, and identities. You can accordingly present your digital content in the best way possible using the following:
- Photos and videos
- Blog posts
Your target audience tends to learn more about you once they see themselves represented in your web content.
13. Adhere to accessibility guidelines
Unfortunately, more than 97% of home pages of top websites have accessibility issues. But the good news is that you can rectify the problem by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. You end up with a more accessible and inclusive website that resonates best with your target audience.
14. Avoid using color to display vital info
Never use color as the only visual cue to relay important information to website users. Visually impaired users or those color blind may find differentiating colors challenging.
Using elements like labels and patterns with colors helps make the data easier to differentiate.
15. Avoid flashing animation
Avoid using flashing animations on your website as there is a risk of the flashing lights triggering the serious condition of epilepsy.
16. Useful tools and resources for accessible and inclusive designs
In addition to the tips mentioned above, many tools with complex ideas and resources will help you build an accessible and inclusive design.
The most important is W3C, accessibility standards, and guidelines followed with tools like WebAccessibilty and WebAIM Color Contrast Checker.
Seven Principles of Inclusive Web Design
The following principles will help ensure you end up with a universal design and an inclusive web design:
This means being ready to add extra features to the US if you feel it will help bridge the gap between different users’ experiences.
A simple web design creates a visually pleasing interface while paving the way for a more intuitive design. This is best achieved by treating the website like a minimum viable product with minimal features and adding extra features only where and if needed.
Always consider how visitors prefer engaging with websites while designing yours. All web content would be a healthy mix of texts and images as some visitors prefer text more while some images.
Web design equity refers to equitable outcomes, meaning every visitor should complete tasks. Knowing your user’s input first-hand helps create friction-free user interaction and a user journey everyone prefers.
Creating websites with inclusive designs helps prevent human errors by providing tolerating and helpful responses to errors. This helps reduce the frustration of making errors with visitors and builds trust. This means designing large buttons that are easily seen and clicked and displaying error messages in contact forms so everyone can see them.
With web ties deemed as ‘places of public accommodation’, They are now subject to more accessibility requirements and lawsuits. An inclusively designed website ensures everyone can read, navigate and engage with the website and guarantees some comfort like ample space or predictable layouts to visitors.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are constantly asked questions about web accessibility and its consequences on a business. So to make things easier for you, here is a list of the most commonly asked questions and answers.
How do you create an inclusive design and designing for accessibility?
To design for accessibility, you first need to be inclusive in design to the needs of all your users. Your users include your target audience, others, users with disabilities, and those from other countries and cultures. Understanding these needs helps craft better and more accessible experiences.
How do I make my website more accessible and inclusive?
You can make your website more accessible and inclusive through the following steps:
- Making content management easier for accessibility
- Using proper headings that are properly formatted
- Including descriptions for all images
- Describing all links
- Ensuring all website colors are contrasting
- Providing a fully accessible form
What are the 4 guideline principles for accessibility inclusivity?
The four guidelines for internet accessibility and inclusivity are known by the acronym POUR and are:
What are good practices for designing an accessible website?
The following good practices help in designing an accessible website:
- Using alt text for images
- Ensuring all visitors can access your website texts and content
- Using user-friendly forms and form designs
- Making all web pages keyboard friendly
- Avoiding using and depending on only colors for projecting information.
In short, an inclusive web design includes various disciplines like UX and accessible and responsive designs. The only difference is that inclusive designs ensure a top-end, universally accessible user experience, and a well-received website.
However, it is not easy to create websites with an inclusive design. You must correctly and thoroughly understand people’s challenges while engaging with websites.
All it takes are simple changes like the proper use of language and tone of voice while incorporating alt text into images and the proper selection of fonts. This way, visitors with and without disabilities have a positive experience.
Website accessibility helps boost your SEO efforts while helping you create an inclusive space for all visitors who need only a few minutes to think.
These benefits are related to creating accessible products and having enough money to survive and not invest. Most web designers and marketers have the power and responsibility to ensure everyone sees what they create.
So to ensure nothing of the sort happens, we have a team of professional web designers and developers at ADA Site Compliance to audit and rectify your website so everyone can easily access it.
Have a question?
We’re always here to help.
The ADA prohibits any private businesses that provide goods or services to the public, referred to as “public accommodations,” from discriminating against those with disabilities. Federal courts have ruled that the ADA includes websites in the definition of public accommodation. As such, websites must offer auxiliary aids and services to low-vision, hearing-impaired, and physically disabled persons, in the same way a business facility must offer wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and sign language interpreters, among other forms of assistance.
All websites must be properly coded for use by electronic screen readers that read aloud to sight-impaired users the visual elements of a webpage. Additionally, all live and pre-recorded audio content must have synchronous captioning for hearing-impaired users.
Websites must accommodate hundreds of keyboard combinations, such as Ctrl + P to print, that people with disabilities depend on to navigate the Internet.
Litigation continues to increase substantially. All business and governmental entities are potential targets for lawsuits and demand letters. Recent actions by the Department of Justice targeting businesses with inaccessible websites will likely create a dramatic increase of litigation risk.
Big box retailer Target Corp. was ordered to pay $6 million – plus $3.7 million more in legal costs – to settle a landmark class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. Other recent defendants in these cases have included McDonald’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Netflix, Harvard University, Foot Locker, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with these large companies, thousands of small businesses have been subject to ADA website litigation.
Defendants in ADA lawsuits typically pay plaintiff's legal fees, their own legal fees for defending the litigation, and potential additional costs. In all, the average cost can range from tens of thousands of dollars, to above six figures. There are also high intangible costs, such as added stress, time and human capital, as well as reputational damage. Furthermore, if the remediation is incomplete, copycat suits and serial filers can follow, meaning double or triple the outlay. It's vital to implement a long-term strategy for ensuring your website is accessible and legally compliant.