Design

Designing for accessibility is the key to an inclusive experience

Web design is an ever evolving process that is constantly improving and evolving its practices based on technological advances and data analysis. Over the last decade an important movement in web design has emerged that has been getting a lot more attention in recent years… accessibility. It’s more than just a large font-size and good contrast, although those two things are important. It’s a way of approaching your design from a position of empathy for your users. It requires some extra thinking and planning from the earliest stage (think pre wireframes) to make sure that your site is welcoming and inclusive to everyone. It impacts not only the visual design but also the copywriting (is the intention clear? Are the buttons/links setting proper expectations for users?) and of course the way it is coded and built. 

As designers, we are the middlemen in this process and if we want to commit to making the web a more accessible place, it’s important for us to also understand the steps that come before us and after us in the webs design process. 

At the Foundry, the visual design team works with our accessibility team every time we design a new site to make sure our designs conform to the WCAG (2.1, level AA) guidelines.  

This is an important component of any site but it becomes especially valuable for hiring sites because it’s important to be able to clearly communicate with as many candidates as possible and if you are committed to being an inclusive employer this is a way to show through your actions that you are prioritizing accessibility. 

If you’re looking to gain a deeper understanding of how to incorporate accessibility into your design practice, visit webaim.org  one of the leading providers of web accessibility expertise in the world. There are a lot of great articles on the rules of accessible design on the site to get you started.  

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this process of understanding accessibility, it’s to try and change the way you think about your designs.   

There are often websites with several “Learn More” buttons, but did you know that if a user is on screen reader, it can often be unclear what the button relates to?  The way your content is organised, broken down into sections and presented in a logical order with relevant headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) is also extremely important..  

Here’s a great infographic called “Web Accessibility for Designers” that gives you the 101 on the basic principles, along with a series of articles that contain all the information to ensure your design will contribute to a more human centric site. 

It’s time that we, as designers, take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of all of our users, all of our users. Think of your site as your story to your visitors… hopefully you want as many people as possible to hear your story and if that’s the case, you want to make it as clear and direct as possible. When you commit to building a fully accessible site, you’re telling the people that visit that your care about making sure the information provided is available and that it makes sense to everyone. Especially when we’re talking about employer branding that story speaks volumes. 

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