With a tiny percentage of websites failing to meet the standards for accessible design in 2022, people with disabilities and impairments are being frequently excluded by lacking accessible web design. While this might be a damning situation, it also presents real opportunity for innovation within website design. Could prioritising functionality and accessibility in ever-deepening ways be the true path forward for great, ground-breaking website design, while providing truly inclusive sites?
Why is Accessibility So Important?
When it comes to designing, building, and refining websites, you need to be thinking about all the different circumstances that site is going to be used in. This site isn’t only going to be accessed on a desktop with great internet speed, it’s going to be accessed on smartphones and other mobile devices, with a range of screen sizes and shapes as well as in areas with terrible, unreliable internet. If you want your site to function as you need it to, connecting with the biggest chunk of your audience possible, it needs to be as functional as possible. It needs responsive design, with a focus on speed and loading times. Going way beyond that, however, it needs real focus on accessibility.
Not everyone engages with websites in the exact same way. Accessibility is all about designing with every user in mind and this affects all of us at some point or other. We all end up in situations where the wrong colour choices, a loud environment or an injury could impair the way we interact with a website. That’s why websites need to be designed clearly and straightforwardly, with colour, font and layout choices that put clarity and ease of understanding at the centre and build from there when it comes to design.
As a plus, websites that prioritise true accessibility, making sure they’re reaching as much of their audience as possible, are going to reap obvious rewards like greater traffic and conversion rates. On top of that, functionality and user-friendliness are potentially huge ranking signals for search giants like Google. Win-win.
Innovation Follows Functionality
A good website puts functionality at the core, building from the essential features outwards while prioritising design aesthetics. Functionality, however, is a deeper concept than you might initially think. Producing websites that are not only extremely user-friendly but also as accessible as possible requires a different, more in-depth approach. However, in this different attitude, there’s much greater scope for building truly innovative websites.
The reality is that innovation within website design requires more than cutting-edge aesthetics and design. It requires an integrated approach to functionality, accessibility and design aesthetics. As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”, and that’s especially true when it comes to accessible website design.
The key ideas of accessibility can be built around the POUR acronym. Perceivable, understandable, operable and robust. By using these core principles as an initial basis, you can think about your website design from four fresh perspectives, allowing for real innovation and truly accessible website design. This only gets more exciting when you consider new technologies like wearables, augmented reality, virtual reality and voice search. The scope for new, innovative design is huge, especially with some accessibility features still being so lacking. How can a more accessible approach reshape the way we design, refine and build websites?