Why & How Designing for accessibility is Crucial?

Accessibility makes all the difference in any digital space. It enables people with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web in a constructive manner. 

Designers need to be mindful of the preferences of a diverse set of people who are likely to interact with their product. This can include people who are blind, color-blind, or have low vision, are deaf or have hearing difficulties, people with mobility impairments which may be temporary or permanent, or people with cognitive disabilities. 

Designers need to please every set of people – young, old, power users, casual users, and users who just want to enjoy a quality experience.

There are plenty of moral reasons for being inclusive when designing a web page, but, unfortunately, accessibility considerations are often one of the first things to get cut when resources or time become scarce. From a business perspective, it might seem reasonable to release something that the majority of people will use. However, choosing not to create accessible designs for financial reasons is not only often illegal but also short-sighted in terms of the business value you can gain from accessibility.

Importance of Accessibility in Designs

Web design companies in India are raised on the premise that an inclusive design is a necessity for any type of website to draw maximum eyes. The primary reason that accessibility has a wider application is the fact that designs created to benefit people with disabilities often end up benefiting a much larger user group. 

This is usually referred to as the curb-effect. Universal design ethics indicate that if we create products that are a pleasure to use for people with any kind of disability, we can significantly improve the experience of those who don’t.

Moral logic dictates that designers should create accessible designs to ensure that everyone has equal access. Another important aspect that a large section of people think of when they consider accessibility is the legal one. Many countries have laws stating that one must design with accessibility in mind and not doing so leaves them vulnerable to lawsuits. 

The most important advocate for accessibility that often gets overlooked is that it is actually good for business. Creating accessible designs enables businesses to expand their user base, improve their SEO, and provide better usability.

How to Design for Accessibility

1. Don’t Depend on Color as the Only Visual Aid

Color should not be used as the only visual means of conveying information.This helps users who are unable to, or have difficulty with, distinguishing one color from another. This includes people who are color blind (1 in 12 men, 1 in 200 women), have low vision (1 in 30 people), or are blind (1 in 188 people). Color should be used to highlight or complement what is already visible. 

2. Aim for Sufficient Gap Between Text and its Background

There should be enough contrast between text and its background, especially in the case of e-commerce websites where each product is accompanied by explicit text about the product and its features. This is even more important in case of e-mail marketing where a large section of people is targeted. According to experts, the contrast ratio between text and a text’s background should be at least 4.5 to 1. This guideline helps users with low vision, color blindness, or worsening vision see and read the text on their screen. Creating a consistent design experience across devices and browsers is the main aim for any e-commerce store owner, and this point helps achieve that.

3. Forms and Their Evolving Types

Forms and their fields have experienced a major shift in their original structure. Modern designs have foregone traditional identifying attributes and interactive affordances in favor of a more minimalist approach. Today, forms that are in sync with the concept of accessibility are composed of two specific items: clearly defined boundaries and visible labels.

How to Design for Accessibility

4. Avoiding Component Identity Crisis

It is important to build an accessible version of many of today’s common design patterns including menus, modals, autocompletes, trees, tabsets, and many others. Each of these patterns have a specific set of expected HTML semantics, keyboard behaviors, and ARIA attribute usage. These ARIA attributes instruct screen reader users on how to interact with a component when using the keyboard. They also provide status updates while the user is interacting with a component. For instance, they instruct people interacting with a menu to use the arrow keys to move up and down the list.

5. Don’t Make People Work Hard to Access Things

As a rule of the thumb, designers must not make people hover to find things. This principle mainly serves people with motor-related disabilities. This includes keyboard-only users who have vision, and those who use speech recognition tools to interact with pages. Primary options should always be visible, secondary options should be shown on hover. Instead of hiding actions and information behind hover states, designers must explore more inclusive alternatives.

  • Place secondary actions inside of menus without using hover states to hide the trigger.
  • Lighten the contrast of secondary icons and darken them on hover.
  • Use tangible items as triggers for larger hovers. 

On the surface it may seem that placing the above-mentioned limits on the use of components, hover states, and visual design of a web page limits a designer’s creativity. On the contrary, these guidelines push the limits of a designer’s creativity as they find visually pleasing designs that enable the usage for a wider set of users. Owing to a diverse cultural mix of population, website designing companies in India are able to organically focus on inclusive designs that sit well with everyone. The best website designing companies in India can help website owners explore the design potential of their documented websites and effectively create a website that is built for accessibility.

Summary: An inclusive, well meaning, accessible design should be the paramount consideration for any web design company charged with the task of designing a website to suit a varied palate. People with disabilities should not be excluded from this mix. They could, on the other hand, guide better design outcomes.