How accessibility strengthens your design

Innovative design for everyone

How accessibility strengthens your design

Innovative design for everyone

Have you spotted descriptions of images on social media captions? They often look like this [Blonde woman in a yellow jacket smiling while walking her dog]. Their purpose is to enable social media users with vision impairment to understand what the image is about.

As the world becomes more user friendly for people with a disability, you’ll start to see some pretty cool design innovations. Like this new Rubix Cube design with braille instead of colours.

As brand design experts, we’re strong believers that design should be accessible for everyone. So let’s look at what accessibility is and why you need to consider it in your design process.

So what is accessibility?

Making your product packaging or website design accessible means ensuring that all users can gain the same user experience (UX). It’s about making your design able to be used by anyone who comes across it, including those with a disability.

Have you thought about how vision or hearing-impaired users navigate your website? They use a screen reader to read aloud all of your content.

If your website is filled with images and little text, the experience they’ll have will leave them confused, frustrated and hitting the back button.

Adding relevant, user-friendly alt tags and image titles enables screen readers to explain what your chosen image is about. Including plenty of informative, captivating and enjoyable text will tell them of who your brand is, how you can help them and why you’re the right fit for them.

The bonus of making your website accessible to the vision-impaired is that it boosts your SEO too. Search engines like Google use the content on your pages along with the alt tags and image titles to determine how to rank your site.

If you’re worried that ticking all of the boxes for accessibility will weaken your design, don’t be.

Accessibility principles pushes you to make it clearer, stronger and more appealing for everyone. Turning what may have been a wishy-washy result into a high-impact design makes your business stand out.

Even non-vision impaired users won’t bother with a website if the font is too hard to read.

For arthritis sufferers, certain shapes, styles and sizes make products difficult or impossible to open. Choosing packaging that’s easy to undo will make all of your customers happy.

Considering your design’s accessibility means providing as much help as possible for all of your users.

Basic accessibility principles

Ensuring your design accommodates all users takes a little more thought and planning. But as we’ve already pointed out, the benefits far outweigh the effort. To help you become familiar with the principles of accessibility, we’ve whipped up a list of the basics for digital design.

  • All images need to have alt tags that describe what the image is about.
  • Choose colour combinations that work across all four colour variants for anyone with colour blindness.
  • Graphic and text colour needs to provide enough contrast with the background to be visible to low vision users.
  • Headers need to follow the structure of H1 through to H6. (Not jump around such as H2, H6, H5.) This makes it easier for screen readers to navigate your content.
  • Links need to tell the user where they are going, try reading them in isolation to see if they make sense.
  • Provide text alternatives for non-text content (including graphics, photos and videos) such as subtitles or transcriptions.

Creating a physical product? There are a bunch of other factors to consider. If you’d like a little guidance from our packaging design agency, let’s chat.

App design challenges

When we collaborated with the team from Tehnika to create the Apunga app, there were some unique accessibility and UX factors to consider.

The app is a farm management system. It’s designed to reduce paperwork, make crop lifecycle management easier and keep every team member up to date.

Always keen to support our farmers (we’re rather fond of eating local produce) we jumped at the chance to work together on their design. 

First up, farmers have big hands (for real) so the app needed large fonts and buttons, plus plenty of negative space between clickable elements. We didn’t want them tapping around on the screen hitting all the wrong buttons and end up throwing their phone in a pile of cow dung.

Next, we had to consider how working in the field would impact their UX. Combatting the glare of the sun on the screen meant using high contrast colours.

With a lot of the users being non-tech savvy, we also had to consider the overall UX. It needed to be easy to navigate, with clear and simple instructions that anyone could follow.

One factor we were surprised to learn was that a high ratio of farmers are colour blind. So we also had to address the various types of colour blindness in the design.

Sure, the design process involved a little more research into topics new to us, but we’re mighty glad we did it. Every time we learn about people’s challenges in accessing designs, our creative branding toolkit grows.

Want to chat with our brand design experts about how to improve the accessibility of your products? Email us at hello@byninja.com.au, call 1800 749 286 or fill in our contact form.

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