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September 2023

How to create an inclusive digital experience

Today, there are many aspects to consider in order to make your website inclusive. But where does inclusion fit in with accessibility and the usability of your website? And how do you create a digital experience that is usable, accessible and inclusive?

According to W3C, the consortium who develop website accessibility standards and guidelines, accessibility, usability and inclusion are closely related aspects in creating an online experience that works for everyone.

What are the challenges?

Designing a website with both accessibility and usability in mind from the very beginning is crucial to creating an inclusive digital experience for all users, regardless of their needs or the nature of their abilities.

Accessibility refers to the design and build of websites that everyone can use. This means designing websites and digital content in a way that ensures everyone can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with content effectively.

Usability means creating a website that is intuitive and easy to navigate for all users. This not only benefits individuals with diverse requirements but also enhances the experience for all users, and allows them to quickly find what they need, and achieve their goals effectively and efficiently.

Inclusion is about ensuring that users of all backgrounds, abilities and experiences should have an equal user experience when using a website or online platform.

What’s the answer?

Meeting the accessibility needs of a website can also improve the overall usability experience. And when the user experience is seamless, intuitive and includes the needs of all users, it has the capacity to be more inclusive for users of all abilities.

By creating a website that is both designed around solid user experience and is built to accessibility standards provided by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will ultimately help create an inclusive digital experience. But it’s not a one-time fix. It’s an ongoing process that requires regular updates and fine-tuning to ensure continuous improvement.

Let’s look at accessibility first. Globally, an estimated 1.3 billion people experience a significant disability. This represents 1 in 6 people. This is a huge number of people who may be impacted on how they access online content and complete everyday online tasks that some take for granted, such as finding products and services through to applying for a job.

Here are 6 things you can do to make your website more accessible:

  1. Use properly structured HTML for screen readers and assistive technologies. Use one H1 per page, followed by H2 tags for subheadings, then H3 and H4 tags and always use H tags in order
  2. Provide alternative text for images and non-text content, and ensure you clearly convey the content and purpose of each image
  3. Use sufficient colour contrast for text readability. According to the W3C, the ideal contrast ratio between text and background should be at least 4.5:1
  4. Support keyboard navigation and give users the ability to select all interactive elements by using the tab key
  5. Write clear and concise copy and write in plain, easy-to-understand language. Avoid the use of jargon and ensure link copy makes sense and clearly indicates where the link goes or what will happen when it is clicked
  6. Use more accessible fonts with features such as variable ascenders and descenders, tailored to individual needs

Website usability is determined by how easily users can interact with your website and accomplish the tasks they set out to do. Good usability will ensure a more positive user experience and overall user satisfaction. There are many ways to improve website usability including:

  1. Use clear and organised layouts and follow established norms regarding logo positioning, calls to action and content hierarchy
  2. Design an intuitive navigation system that’s easy to understand and is consistent across pages and devices
  3. Create consistent design elements and interactions and combine aesthetic appeal with scanning readability
  4. Make forms easy to complete so users don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they have to provide
  5. Create engaging and meaningful content that addresses user needs and uses consistent language and tone of voice
  6. Implement fast loading times and responsive design for different devices from desktop to tablets to mobiles by reducing file sizes and optimising images and videos

Today, assistive technology tools are becoming more widely used. These tools help create accessible and usable online experiences and can be implemented as a toolbar on an existing website. As more and more companies opt to implement assistive technology, tools based primarily on a person’s disability or ability may become a more viable option.

Conclusion

Inclusive design means committing to improving your website experience for all users regardless of abilities. Considering the accessibility and usability of your website, including the use of your colour palette, fonts and how your content is written are all important factors and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Ultimately, accessibility, usability and inclusive design all go hand in hand meaning everyone can access your website, platform or online service regardless of their needs or the nature of their abilities.

If you would like to talk to us about how to create an inclusive digital experience, then please get in touch.

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