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Accessible UX Design: How to Build the Best User Experience for All

In this digital age, your website is the heart of your organization. And every organization needs a high-functioning, clean and accessible website. But when your organization decides to embark on a website re-design there will be many questions that need to be answered before starting the project.

Which CMS will you choose? 

Who are the right people to create and review content?

When should you start planning for the site’s launch?

And these questions are important. Your website is the online front door to your organization and the first introduction to your mission for many people. Here are a few elements that seem small but can improve the user experience of your website.  Psst, look for a pro-tip at the end!

Know your audience

Have a better understanding of who your audience is, where they come from, what their needs and requirements are. Start by performing target audience research, gathering the data and finally, creating audience personas. Creating personas will guide you in your ideation process, will make the design task easier, and will help you achieve the goal of giving a better user experience to your target audience.

When you understand the unique circumstances of your audience you can brainstorm practical solutions. When creating a page or blog post you may discover that you have multiple audiences to consider. Some of your audiences may prefer “skimmable” content written in a certain way. The key factor that will differentiate people is what their needs are from your organization.

You’ve built a successful website when you know you’re meeting your audience’s needs and desires.

Make sure your website is accessible

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sacrifice accessibility in the name of building a beautiful website. If your true end goal is to create a website with the best user experience you should be creating a website that can be used by anyone, including people with disabilities or limitations that could affect their browsing experience.

You should follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) created by World Wide Web Consortium and Web Accessibility Initiative. The standard guidelines of WCAG are organized into four principles of accessibility:

  • Perceivable: Information should be presented in a processable format.
  • Operable: People with disabilities should be able to operate the website.
  • Understandable: Using clear and concise language along with ease in using the functionality on the website.
  • Robust: The website should work across multiple platforms (including assistive technologies), browsers and devices.

1.   Provide Clear Calls-To-Action

Did you know that the average attention span of a user on a website is just 5 seconds? This is one of those pieces of information that you should keep in mind when creating a website to ensure that you’re always focused on creating concise and engaging action items for your audiences. Show your website visitors what you want them to do next. Make that action item noticeable and easy to understand for users so that they know what to do next.

Make use of the real estate on your website and add the Calls-To-Actions (CTAs) to the sidebar or at the end of a blog post. You should also prioritize the number of CTAs to include per page.

2.   Use Captivating Media

Choosing the right image or video is a powerful technique that organizations can use to make a greater impact. It can help you stand out and generate an emotional response from your website visitors. Always opt for high-resolution images over low-quality or grainy images that will negatively impact the experience visitors will have on your site.

Consider the diversity of your supporters and select images that are inclusive and welcoming to all website visitors. Make sure you create alt-text for your images that not only describes the image but also leads with empathy. It will not only add value to the SEO perspective but also improve the accessibility and user experience of the website.

3.   Put Your Brand Colors to Work

Once your brand colors are dialed in, use them thoughtfully and consistently on your site. Well-placed colors can help buttons, headlines, and menu items to stand out, drawing attention to your most important content.

If you need more variety in your color palette, choose a primary and secondary color. Find variations of your primary colors such as lighter or darker tones. Focus on both brand consistency and enhanced legibility.

Maintain the color contrast ratio on your website. There are free contrast checkers online that allow you to test your color palette, ensuring visibility for as many visitors as possible.

4.   Make Space for Your Content

Studies have shown that people don’t read every word on the website, the majority will scan the website. A scannable and clean website can give people a good first impression of your organization while a cluttered and confusing site could make you seem disorganized and unfocused.

Separate sections with whitespace – the text- and image-free gaps that exist between content. This makes it easier for people to concentrate on one element at a time and helps colorful elements draw the eye to action. Identify the primary actions you want your most important audiences to take and organize your page’s elements based on these priorities.

Pro-tip: Something as simple as line spacing can contribute to a good first impression on your site. If headlines and paragraphs are too dense it could negatively impact legibility.

Every organization is different, and each will need a website unique to its mission and programs. But using this list as a guide means you’re thinking correctly about small decisions that can have a big impact on your site visitors. If you’re considering a website project and want to learn more about great accessible design approaches, reach out!

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