Inclusive web design is finally becoming a priority in the digital world, and brands need to be aware of this.
No matter what your business is sharing or selling, you need to be aware of the needs of your users when you learn how to make a website.
For the majority of the time that the world wide web has been a part of human life, web design has been based on a narrow standard view of human interaction with technology.
It is only in the past few years that web designers have become aware of how this method has been alienating certain groups of users.
People with impairments—cognitive, visual, speaking, hearing, and motor—interact with websites differently, which is why web design needs to be made accessible and inclusive.
There are a few techniques website developers and designers can adopt to make their websites more inclusive for a large swathe of people.
Below is a comprehensive guide to making your web design inclusive.
Simplify Your Inclusive Web Design
Minimalism and simplicity are the latest graphic design trends, and they are an important factor in making your website more accessible.
There are several benefits to having a clear visual layout—the user experience, in general, is better when there is a clear hierarchy of elements on a webpage.
Group elements according to how they are related to each other, and which have similar sizes and colors. This will make it easier for the user to know which elements follow each other.
The use of white space also makes navigation across a webpage better—it improves readability and decreases instances of users clicking on incorrect elements.
Add directional signage and icons where you can—if your website scrolls from left to right, add visible arrows so users know how to navigate.
Make Your Inclusive Web Design Responsive
Responsive web design has been a priority since the rise of smartphones and tablets, and it is definitely something to keep in mind when you are trying to be inclusive.
There are a variety of shapes and sizes for screens, and you need to be aware of how and what is lost or adapted when a website is viewed on different screens by different users.
To ensure that your web design is responsive no matter what device it is viewed on, you need to create a project plan that clearly defines the goal of each page.
With this goal in mind, you will have a fair idea of what elements need to be highlighted on smaller screens, and which ones can be hidden.
And test your responsive designs as much as possible before going live.
There is nothing more frustrating for a user than trying to press tiny buttons or social icons on a screen and not being able to, or accidentally pressing the button beside it.
Keep this in mind when creating buttons on your website—they should be large and have a few pixels of space between them so there is no chance of someone missing the button.
Google’s accessibility guidelines recommend 48*48px sized buttons for the most comfortable tap area.
And while the buttons should be large, it is better to limit the amount of text housed within the button—one or two words is enough but avoid cramping the button with words.
Choosing the Right Fonts
Fonts are crucial for making your web design inclusive. Small fonts will make it impossible for most readers to follow, so use a font that is 16px at the very least for legibility.
Dark and heavier weighted fonts are better than light ones which have a tendency of disappearing into the background.
The fonts you use should be legible—handwritten fonts and cursive fonts look attractive, but they may hamper readability for a large number of visitors.
Designers also need to keep hyperlinks in mind—hyperlinks should be made obvious by underlining them and giving them a different, contrasting color.
Anchor Text and Alt Text
It wasn’t long ago when most hyperlinks were added on the word ‘here’. Though it helped the flow of content, it isn’t a very inclusive way of incorporating links.
Think about the anchor text that you will be placing a link on—it should match the URL exactly.
This will help screen-readers pick up the link and enhance the user experience for a visually impaired visitor. Plus, it’s great for linkbuilding.
The same goes for alt text—if you are adding non-text elements to your website, they should have brief descriptions added to them so they can be easily described by screen-readers.
Text Structure and Captions
How you structure the content of your webpages is of extreme importance, especially when considering how screen-readers scan them.
We have mentioned hierarchy before, and that should be used for structuring content.
Divide your content by headers—h1 for the title, h2 and h3 for subheadings. This will help divide the content up when it is being read out.
If you are adding videos or animations to your website, always include captions—this also goes for any audio content you create, no matter what the platform.
Most website builders will give you the option to structure content, so make use of it.
Color is a core component of web design—the right colors can evoke emotions that will eventually lead to conversions.
And that has been the primary purpose of using a wide variety of colors on websites. Which is fine, but are web developers cognizant of how visitors with color-blindness perceive them?
One way to ensure that all users can experience your website well is to use the below guide when choosing web design colors.
Another important note to keep in mind is color contrast—using colors that contrast with each other will make readability much easier for all users.
Don’t use color as the sole method of denoting meaning or dividing something, and definitely not on forms—text labels and placeholders, as well as clear notifications are much better.
Give Users Control
If you want to create a completely inclusive user experience with your web design, seriously consider adding some flexible controls to your website and website popups.
For instance, give users a few options to change the font size, so users who need smaller or larger fonts than the size you have used have control.
Make your layouts zoomable—this requires some planning because the scale of your content needs to remain the same even when it is zoomed out.
If you do have an embedded video or audio on your website, remove the autoplay option—give the user the option to turn the sound on or off.
It is also necessary to keep in mind that people with impairments can sometimes require more time with forms, so timed forms should be made adjustable.
Summing Up Inclusive Web Design
Inclusivity in web design isn’t a luxury anymore—it is a necessity if brands want to appeal to the widest audience. The above guide will help you make your websites more inclusive for all users.
It will take some planning, especially if you already have an established site, but the benefits of adapting your design for all audiences will far outweigh the efforts you put in.