Why Accessibility is the Key to Great Design & Marketing
Accessibility is the key component to effective communication, the core of great design, and without accessibility your marketing will fail on multiple levels.
What’s a great design without effective accessibility?
Well, a design that cannot be accessible or cannot meet the needs of a wide range of potential users including those who have visual, auditory, speech or cognitive disability is no great design at all.
Accessible design is a wide approach for designers to ensure that their product and services meet the need of the widest possible audience irrespective of their ability or age.
Like Microsoft says,
it’s not just doing the right thing, it’s doing the smart thing.
Including accessibility in your design is the smart thing to do.
It is also imperative to consider accessible design for legal, social and business and by here I mean reasons.
Why design for accessibility?
Accessibility = Sales
Surveys have shown that over one billion people around the world live with some form of disability and as expected, the population of people with disability continues to grow.
Further research has shown that implementing accessibility in a design minimizes the rate at which users abandon websites which results in an additional estimated $2.4 million dollar annual revenue.
Over 1 billion people are likely denied access to a great design, over one billion who could have contributed to a great sale.
Accommodating users through design to address these figures means more users and definitely more sales.
If those reasons alone aren’t enough to motivate you to design for accessibility, pay attention to these:
1. Accessibility is required by law:
The law requires that our work and learning environment are accessible for individuals with disabilities. Including accessibility in your design means staying off the path of many lawsuits. There are fines and penalties imposed on organizations who do not make provision for accessibility. Hence, these regulations should motivate you to make accessibility a priority.
2. Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
Search engines can be compared to blind users. They can’t see the content of your image therefore including accessibility features such as alt text for image improves the search engine optimization. You have absolutely nothing to lose by improving accessibility.
3. A social responsibility
Accessibility in your design demonstrates social responsibility. It shows you are contributing your positive iota to humanity. It would build your reputation.
4. Accessibility means innovation:
Accessibility requires creativity. Contrary to popular opinion that making provisions for accessibility is boring or well, ugly, accessibility allows you to explore new ideas, to be creative and this will give your design a unique look that will attract all potential users and most definitely take you ahead of your competitors.
How to Do It
As thrilling as the idea of including an accessibility function in your design may sound, you’re probably wondering how to implement this and how costly will it be?…
I have good news, it is not expensive or difficult.
Like anything, it will require some effort on your part.
Before designing, you may need to do a background check on who your potential users are and what type of potential accessibility issues your users might have.
These issues might be visual (that is, colour blindness, extreme light sensitivity, blurred vision or night blindness), mobility (a wheelchair or muscle or joint problems, inability to move a part of the body), cognitive disability (learning or thinking disability e. g dyslexia), auditory, and seizures. Having a basic knowledge about this will give you a great start on how to begin.
You can also read the article about Logo and Graphic Design
Designing for visually impaired people:
About 80% of accessibility issues are related to sight. So here is what to do.
- Add color contrast.
- Do not hardcode font size
- Use messages along with color for errors: Using color as the only means in your graphics can be challenging to users who are color blind or who prefer a dimmed screen backlight. Indicating the reason for an error with message is a good idea for such users.
- Include assistive technology: These entails the screen readers, the magnifiers or speech to text software or the voice recognition software.
- Ensure sufficient contrast between text and its background. That is for a text that is 24px, 19px, bold or larger, the lightest Gray recommended on a white background is #959595.
Designing for Physically disabled people:
- Enable form field space: Clearly defined boundaries for form fields are important for users with mobility impairments and cognitive disability.
- Make large clickable options
- Avoid making dynamic contents that demand a lot of mouse movement.
- The use of assistive technology is equally very applicable here.
- Provide visual focus indication for keyboard focus.
Designing for users with cognitive disability (e. g dyslexia):
- Keep your content simple, short and clear.
- Use images and diagrams to support text as highlighted above.
- Forms without a label is a no-no. Labels inform the user of the purpose of a field. It maintains its usefulness when focus is placed inside the field. This is a much better accessible tool for users with cognitive disability.
How Design for Accessibility Helps in Marketing
We’ve now looked at some pretty practical ways to include accessibility in your design, so let’s talk about how it helps in marketing.
Often times, in digital marketing, the challenge has always been how do you;
- reach more people
- get more traffic
- build your audience
Accessible designs are a great way to increase your business reach and broaden its appeal. It increases your chance of getting that traffic you need and this as well increases your revenue as discussed earlier.
Also, accessibility attracts more potential business partners.
In marketing, we need as many business partners as we can get. Not just those you do business with but those who would further market your designs. Outside of the fact that accessibility in your design earns you credibility among physically able potential business partners, it will also earn you more partners among the physically challenged ones because you have shown the world through your accessible design that you do not discriminate and you believe they are equal to the task despite their physical challenges.
Is your website accessible to persons with disabilities? Test it here.
Before you give a final verdict on your design, test for accessibility with real users. Make adjustments where you need to, then go ahead, launch it.