If you want to engage a large number of visitors on your business website, it makes sense for usability to be at the forefront of your web design. However, not all web designers maintain an inclusive approach when designing a website. Too often, they design only with the average person in mind, excluding the least advantaged users that constitute between 10 percent and 20 percent of the population.
Today, with inclusivity at the forefront of business values, a business and their chosen web design agency should consider several factors to ensure they craft the best experiences for as many people as possible—regardless of impairments, situational limitations, demographics, or technical constraints. Below is a case for upholding inclusive design and some best practices and methods for making your own website design more inclusive.
Why Is Inclusive Design So Important?
An inclusive website can be fully accessed and used by anyone without the latter feeling excluded. The benefits of inclusive web design include the following:
Inclusive web designs are accessible to all users, even those with disabilities or impairments in hearing, vision, cognitive function, or motor skills. Better accessibility means people with disabilities can access and use websites independently without assistance.
Improved User Experience
Websites designed for inclusivity are easy to navigate and use, therefore offering an improved user experience. An inclusive design approach provides different ways to interact with and access website content, including voice commands, keyboard commands, and screen readers.
Designing for inclusivity means you’re also improving website usability, making it easier for visitors to find information, complete tasks, or achieve their goals. A more inclusive web design approach ensures that content is presented clearly, with easy-to-use controls and navigation.
Inclusive web design features an organized structure that is easy for search engines to understand. Using alt text for images, headings, and metadata can assist search engines with understanding website content.
If you live somewhere like the United States, your website must comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Inclusive web design considers this, thereby reducing the risk of legal action while showing that your brand commits to inclusivity and accepts its social responsibility.
How Can You Make Your Web Design More Inclusive?
Considering the principles mentioned above, here are a few strategies for making your business website’s design more inclusive:
Maintain Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy, which refers to the order in which content is displayed, should be clear and consistent all throughout the website. An organized visual hierarchy allows users to quickly and easily understand the website’s navigation and layout regardless of their visual or cognitive disabilities. Web designers and their clients will be able to achieve good visual hierarchy on a web property by using the correct font colors, sizes, spacing, and contrast.
Use Meaningful Labels
Good web designers will also use meaningful and descriptive labels to help users understand the function and purpose of a business website’s various elements, such as form fields, buttons, and links. Properly labeled elements are essential for people with disabilities who rely on screen readers and other assistive technologies.
Utilize Alternative Text
Providing alternative text for images is one of the best ways to cater to visually impaired users. Also called alt text, alternative text often describes the subject of the image or its function. Alt text offers many other functions. For instance, screen reader technologies read alt text aloud to assist the visually impaired. The alt text can also show up in place of an image that fails to load and can be read by search engine bots to understand the content of a particular web page.
Ensure Keyboard Accessibility
Inclusive website design demands that a website should be fully accessible with only the use of a keyboard to cater to people with disabilities who cannot use mice or other types of pointing devices. Web designers need to ensure that all website elements may be accessed via the keyboard only.
Offer Clear and Concise Content
Content that is clear and concise not only benefits abled users; it’s essential for users with learning or cognitive disabilities as well. Utilizing short sentences, simple vocabulary, and plain language helps ensure that visitors can effectively understand and engage with your content.
Design for Color Blindness
Color blindness is a condition that affects nearly 9 percent of the population. To cater to these people, web designers should consider using color combinations with sufficient contrast while adding visual cues that efficiently convey information, regardless of their color.
Test with Users
After applying all the tips above, the best way to ensure that your website is inclusive and accessible is to have it tested by both abled and disabled people. Collect feedback from testers so that you can identify issues and barriers that were not apparent during the development and design process.
Takeaway: Towards Achieving Inclusivity in Your Website Design
All that being said, remember that inclusive design is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of design approach. It is an ongoing process, and website designers and their respective clients should continually strive to enhance the accessibility and usability of their websites as time goes on.
At its core, inclusive web design is not just a good-hearted effort to appeal to as many people as possible regardless of disabilities. It is also an approach that makes the most sense business-wise. By designing an easily accessible website, you can reach a wider audience, comply with legal requirements, enhance your user experience, and improve your search engine rankings—all of which will allow your business to prosper in a diverse and inclusive digital landscape.