The truth is, unless it affects us personally, we probably don’t spend too much time thinking about life’s many obstacles. If you have young boys, you quickly realize that many urinals are not built low enough for them to use. And if they are, then the sinks in no way are low enough for washing up. But, if you never had a young boy to attend to, these public restroom obstacles would never occur to you.
In the digital world, there are lots of obstacles that don’t occur to users but should occur to designers and engineers as they should be motivated to make their products usable by the widest possible audience.
Creating an equivalent experience means providing a similar website or web app experience for every user: The same ease-of-use, zero loss of functionality, and an optimized experience for all.
There are two principal areas that users would enjoy an equivalent experience; if they have different technology or different abilities.
Too often, the default customer who is being developed for is—in the minds of the average developer—just like themselves:
· Possessing a large screen
· Having a fast connection
· Enjoying a powerful computer
It is assumed that they are:
· Technologically literate
Because developers work with the best computers, the fastest internet and the largest high-definition screens, it can be hard to imagine a world without all of that. If you have great eyesight and small fingers, don’t react negatively to flashing lights, understand intuitively how to navigate most websites, and so on, you just might not be sensitive to the plights of others.
But there are some simple ways to accommodate others who aren’t the same as you. And the upside is a larger, happier, and more satisfied audience.
Serving People with Different Technologies
Plan for use on smaller screens
In many circumstances a web app looks great on the laptops or desktops of the designers and developers who made it, but everyone using a device with a small display is forced to pinch, pan, and zoom to get what they need.
People using a smartphone to access a poorly designed website are victims of circumstance. The extra effort someone needs to do to get it to work indirectly communicates that they weren’t a priority and therefore not valued.
Allow screen zooming
Screen zooming is when someone is prevented from being able to zoom their displays and make text larger. When you disallow this sort of behavior, you’re telling prospective users that unless they have vision similar to you, you aren’t interested in them being able to use your app.
Test your layouts by zooming and/or increasing your default type size to make sure that content does not get obscured.
Lower load times
While high-speed internet is ubiquitous in larger cities, you don’t have to venture too far outside of those boundaries to run into large numbers of people who don’t have this kind of service. Making sure that your website or web app has quick load times paves the way for use by users without access to high-speed internet.
Serving People with Different Abilities
Help those who have a vision impairment
A larger font size and comfortable line height goes a long way towards making content pleasant to read. Ensure that text content is written using text (not presented as an image), allowing it to be read aloud, restyled, and reformatted.
Assist those who are technologically challenged
Perform an initial test of your user flows to make sure they make sense.
Help those who have a disability
· Make it easy to see
· Make it easy to hear
· Make it easy to interact with
· Make it easy to understand
Incorporate disability scenarios and conditions into your design personas. That will go a long way toward solving this problem because you’ll be addressing it at the beginning instead of retro-fitting something at the end or after launch and a host of complaints.
We’re Leaving Money on the Table
A survey was conducted in both 2016 and 2019 to explore the online shopping experience of people with disabilities and examine the cost to business of ignoring these shoppers.
The survey discovered that more than 4 million people abandoned a retail website because of the access barriers they found. These people represent $21.1 billion in lost potential revenue.
The American Institutes for Research conducted a study that discovered that there is an estimated $490 billion in disposable income among working-age adults who have a disability.
This is a gigantic market that we, as an industry, are only now becoming aware of. Rather than approaching accessibility with a mindset of risk aversion, why not use this learning as a great way to view your current and future business opportunities?
When we create a great customer experience by giving accessibility to more people, we make people’s lives better, more enjoyable. And that affects public perception, improves your brand’s image and enhances your profits.