Inclusive design has been making waves in the design world and for all the good reasons.
Designed to address the diversity of human experience, it’s meant to solve a problem for one, and extend a solution to many, creating a more human-friendly web in the process. Why does inclusive design matter and what does it look like in practice? Inclusive design helps to make your website more accessible for users and lets you put people’s needs before designers’ whims. Not only does it boost your website’s user experience, but it may also significantly increase your revenue. Something as simple as setting higher contrast on your website is set to make your content more inclusive - there are more than 130 million people with low vision, and poor color contrast ruins their reading experience. Low color contrast is also the enemy of dyslexics, or simply 20% of the worldwide population. If you want to offer your users the best possible experience, you have to think about their needs. In the end, little things matter, if they make somebody’s life easier. What are the principles of inclusive design to live by?
Always provide an alternative for your content, whether it’s an alt text, audio description, transcript, or sign language. For people with impaired vision, audio description is valuable, as it allows them to easily access information. Similarly, deaf people would definitely appreciate a transcript or captions for your YouTube video or podcast, as otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to enjoy your content. Interestingly, it’s one of the solutions that solve problems for one group but help everybody. The majority of people like captions, as they allow them to consume content in public spaces, without bothering anybody. That’s exactly how you win users’ hearts and influence their buying decisions! Add value to people’s lives, and they will add revenue to your business.
Think about changing circumstances and different ways that we use our devices. Our smartphones follow us everywhere, so the way we use them changes depending on your location. Higher contrast makes reading outside easier, and captions on the go allow comfortable content consumption in public transport.
If it is possible, provide numerous ways to complete an action, and always offer alternatives for published content. If you post infographics, it’s great to include their data tables next to them. Some users will find it more accessible, and your website’s user experience will improve. People like to have a choice, and if they do, they’re more likely to choose you, rather than your competition.
Use consistent design patterns, interface layout, and an editorial style to create a sense of familiarity and help your users easily navigate your website. Switching between styles and conventions will only confuse them. Make them feel at home, and design your website to be intuitive to scan and navigate.
All in all, inclusive design matters, because your users are all different, and so are their needs. Providing everybody with a comparable website experience helps to design a fair web world, and significantly boosts your user experience. It’s a win-win situation: you create a more accessible internet architecture to improve your sales and build customer loyalty. Sometimes you can have it all!