Every web designer knows that a good user experience is the key to a satisfied user base. Still, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the website design can be tweaked at a later date to accommodate this, the result of which is not doing enough and not being proactive enough during the development phase.
The following tips will make you see that good web design doesn’t need to put an enormous strain on your resources. By taking a couple of basic principles into account, a lot of it can be fixed while you’re still in the brainstorming phase of your web site design.
So without any further ado, here is why accessibility should be at the forefront of every good website design and what you can do to achieve it.
1. Keep the colours simple
Shapes and colours undoubtedly play an enormous role in how a user might view your website. It should be your ultimate goal to cater to everyone, including the colour-blind and people battling with autism. When these groups enter the equation, it becomes clear that overly bright colours are a no-no. Since their attention span can quickly reach an end, simple colours and shapes are a much better choice. Utilizing simple colours in your web design doesn’t always indicate low budget to your visitors, some high-end brands use simple colours in their ecommerce stores to connote luxury.
With regards to colour-blindness, it is more common than you might think, and approximately one in 12 men around the world is dealing with it. This group of people is especially reliant on colours with a stark contrast. That being said, it’s good to avoid the combination of green and blue; red and green; green and brown; and blue and purple.
If you don’t know where to begin, there are certain tools like the Chrome plug-in Spectrum that will help you pick the right colour combination with ease.
2. Make the design ‘tab-able’
While some users are particularly challenged in the dexterity department, some simply prefer to navigate their way through a website by using the tab button on their keyboard. Though, catering to this group of people requires some effort on the web designer’s part (it is not to be taken for granted).
Think of how the web page ends up looking when a certain section of it is focused. It’s best to work with an actual browser to easily visualise the final result. Even though over 50% of your website traffic is now coming from mobile devices, that is still not reason enough to throw the desktop user base completely out the window.
3. Verifications and checks will spell out an end to anxiety
When using the website to make payments or input potentially sensitive data, it’s easy to enter panic mode, thinking you’ve made a mistake somewhere along the way. When you’ve come to the end of the questionnaire, only to find out there is no way to go back and make edits to the data you’ve submitted, anxiety ensues.
An astute web designer knows the value of giving users the option to double-check if everything went right. Even if there’s no option to re-do your choices, you should at least have an overview of what you’re sending over. To truly go the extra mile in web design, you can also incorporate some form of double-verification by sending an SMS confirmation to the recipient’s phone. That way, nothing will slip through the cracks undetected.
4. Too many prompts are distracting
Speaking on the subject of anxiety, have you ever encountered one of these websites that just shower you with an endless array of prompts and mercilessly tries to instill a sense of urgency with these so-called ‘limited’ offers and countdowns?
Well, the marketers know these convert fairly well, hence finding new ways to implement them at every opportunity that presents itself. Though, if you know such website designs can truly trigger an anxiety attack in your users, are the extra conversions truly worth the sacrifice?
Instead of contributing to the problem, be a part of the solution. Even when a countdown timer simply cannot be avoided, cater to the needs of the anxious by gently reminding them an offer is set to expire and give them the option to extend the timer if need be.
5. Acknowledge the fact that some visitors to your website are robotic
While true that a web designer should prioritise the visitors of flesh and bone, you do have to keep in mind that search engine crawlers need to have an easy time doing their job as well. After all, it’s in your interest not to make their crawling any harder than it needs to be as you will be rewarded with better search engine rankings, and, thus, more traffic.
Moreover, users with some form of visual impairment may use assistive software to make your website easier to read.
6. Offer an option for customising their experience
People have different tastes and preferences, so you should ask your web designer to accommodate for this in one way or another. Some like large portions of text, some like darker and some prefer lighter colour variations.
At the very least, they should be given the option to change the background colour and text size if they so desire. It could be for readability reasons, or it could be due to their sensitivity to certain colours. In the end, you just never know, so it’s best to cover all your bases instead of shooting in the dark.
7. Give the user plenty of ways to consume the content
Taking various news websites as an example, you should give all your users the freedom to decide in which format they wish to consume the content you’re presenting them. For example, you might have a written piece and video footage at the same time.
In some cases, it may be a simple preference, while in others, a case of disability. If you’re giving your users the freedom to choose, you’re doing everyone a favour and making your web page design more accessible.
8. Keep your message straightforward
While playing around with words every so often could serve as a way to break up the monotony and make your brand fun, it’s important to cater to a wide range of people by having your web page design and the content it features incorporate as many plain English words as possible. Not all of your visitors are equally as gifted, so it’s important not to leave anyone out and focus on a site design that is accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
9. Incorporate multiple languages
Your web designer should know that not all who decide to visit your website will speak the same language. Though, even if you decide to incorporate more than one, do keep in mind that a wide range of issues might surface when translating the content into another language. There might be an overlap, or an entire section of the text can disappear.
Some languages like Arabic read from right to left. Just think about how that can single-handedly shake up the best website design out there. So before you deploy anything, make sure to conduct a test with a mock-up design and see if any changes are needed before going live.
10. Animations should be incorporated with care
There is a school of thought promoting the notion of doing away with animations altogether, but at the very least, keep it to the bare minimum. This might come as a surprise, but did you know that a whopping 35% of people over the age of 40 suffer from a vestibular disorder? If you’re one of them, you know how easy it can be to get nauseous when looking at animations that have taken things too far.
If you don’t want to go as far as offering the option of disabling any animations you may have displayed on your website, at least provide some sort of static alternative in your webpage design.
11. Alt-text is not just for web crawlers
We live in a world where multimedia is the norm. Though, with so many pictures we upload, properly marking them with relevant alt tags can quickly fly right over our heads.
Did you know that as much as 29% of your user base is likely using a screen reader to consume the content you’ve prepared for them? Alt-text is a way to put things into perspective and give them context. In other words, you’ll be covering the users who use a screen reader, plus the cases where the web page has failed to load properly for whatever reason.
12. Think about how long the content is that you’re presenting
You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. Though, apart from hiring quality writers who are knowledgeable about the topic, what else can you do to ensure that your web page design measures up?
You see, getting someone to read your website is good, but that alone won’t get the job done. You need to come up with ways to keep your user base engaged. Large areas of text may be informative, but they sure do a poor job at keeping your users engaged. The best web designers know that slapping a piece of text on the website and calling it a day isn’t enough. Instead, you should be walking a fine line between keeping your content informative and lightweight.
There’s nothing more bothersome than the dreaded wall of text. So, if you simply cannot be the judge of what portion of your content should be scrapped to make way for a better piece, at least make sure to cut into multiple segments. That being said, it’s even better if you can think about this during the web design phase of your website. That way, you can also make sure that the sentences you write don’t end up too long. Whenever in doubt, keeping it short, simple, and to the point is the way to go.
13. Make it transparent what’s about to happen next
Once a user has reached the end of the journey, it’s the task of a good web designer to communicate what’s about to happen next clearly. Whether it’s reaching the end of a page or the next page of a questionnaire, they may not necessarily realise they’re going somewhere unless you explicitly tell them.
Even if it’s a simple nudge telling the user they’ve reached the end of the tunnel and that they should return to the home page, it can very well be the difference between a poor and a well-designed website.
In the end, signaling the next steps goes a long way towards reducing anxiety.
14. There should be freedom of choice when it comes to getting in touch
This is especially important if you’re working with your web designer to create an interactive website. Getting in touch through live chat, telephone, or email offers plenty of opportunities for users to share their thoughts, no matter how busy their schedule may be or how they prefer to interact in general.
Remember the point about the visually impaired and the deaf? The very same core principle applies to this central element of your website design, and everyone should be on equal grounds to speak their mind. When all is said and done, your contact page should leave none behind.
Is your web site design accessible to all of your customer base? Schedule a call with our Sydney website design team to ensure you’re not turning away potential customers.