Empower your web design skills with 9 inclusive best practices. Read the full article for comprehensive insights and expertise.
Having a website means you reach many more people than you’d think, so websites must cater to a diverse audience. That way, they can ensure equal access and a positive user experience.
With that in mind, we will explore some of the best design practices web designers can implement to create inclusive websites.
When discussing inclusive user experience (UX) design, we discuss a design principle focused on making whatever you are designing as accessible and accommodating for anyone as possible.
The design should make whatever it is easy to use, regardless of the user’s abilities or background. This approach is about catering first not to the average user but instead to a diverse range of users, especially those with disabilities, different language preferences, or varying levels of technical proficiency.
Web designers should prioritize inclusive UX design because it promotes equal access and ensures everyone can engage with digital content without barriers.
By implementing best practices for inclusive UX design, designers can make websites more accessible through features such as alt text for images, clear navigation structures, color contrast considerations, and adjustable font sizes.
What’s excellent about inclusive UX design is that even if you develop your site with inclusivity in mind, it benefits everyone simultaneously. The core of it is to make it intuitive to use, which means that one’s technical understanding and abilities have little to do with how well one can use the website.
Additionally, it fosters inclusivity by acknowledging the diversity of users’ needs. Just because the average user doesn’t need them doesn’t mean these features shouldn’t exist.
When you make your website inclusive, starting with those who are differently abled, you uplift the experience of those without issues interacting with your site.
Now that you know what inclusive UX design is all about, let’s cover some best practices you can apply.
According to Sytian Productions, a web developer Philippines, if you want to know how to make your design more inclusive for users, then ask your user base. There are no better people to tell you what issues they commonly encounter on websites than them.
User research involves getting in touch with your users to understand what they like and don't like about your website based on overall usage.By conducting user research, web designers can ensure that the "inclusive UX design" changes they’re making on their website truly benefit the users.
User research can better highlight the potential barriers or challenges certain users may face when interacting with a website that web designers overlook. This knowledge enables them to make informed decisions and implement best practices for inclusive UX design.
To conduct user research for web design, there are several steps one can follow.
To start, as with any research, you start by defining the objectives and goals of the study. This step involves identifying what aspects of the website’s UX need improvement based on your users' answers.
Next, you should choose your preferred research method. Some choices for user research methods would be surveys, interviews, usability testing, and more. The process can determine how deeply you understand inclusive design on your site. Sometimes, you might need multiple methods to be as thorough as possible.
Once you have the data you need, it’s time to see the patterns that form from your users’ responses. Use this information and data to make changes to your site that are truly helpful and not something you assume would be.
A good design principle to fall back on when trying to achieve a more inclusive UX design for your website is to make things as simple as possible.
By adopting a simple design approach, you don’t have to tweak many of your website design aspects to make them more accessible to all users from all backgrounds. If you reduce the complicated and colorful design ideas on your website, you are reducing the number of barriers you unconsciously add to it.
Simplicity benefits not only those with disabilities but also improves the overall user experience for everyone.
If you reduce your site's visual noise and clutter, the text becomes more readable. The minimalistic design also doesn’t overwhelm people, so they have less cognitive load upon seeing your website. That way, your web visitors can focus on what they want to do on your website in the first place.
Another aspect of your site that you can make more inclusive would be the images you add. Any graphics and images you have should have alternative text to describe them to visually impaired people. Hence, they get the entire message you’re trying to communicate with said image.
Don’t use the alt text section for your images to add unnecessary information. Just state clearly what is in the picture. Also, not all graphics need alt text, specifically the decorative photos, so don’t add one for those.
The images on your website should also feature a diverse range of individuals from different backgrounds, ethnicities, abilities, and genders. It’s a minor change, but it can make your visitors feel like your website and brand are welcoming places for them.
We mentioned this briefly earlier, but it’s worth repeating that taking care of the readability of text on your site is another aspect of inclusive UX web design.
Some people with difficulty reading text don’t necessarily have completely obscured vision. Sometimes, they may have a condition, like dyslexia, that makes it hard to read text if the letters are too close together. That’s why you should pay attention to the readability of the text on your site.
Improving text readability involves employing techniques such as using clear fonts, appropriate font sizes, proper spacing between characters and paragraphs, and sufficient color contrast between the text and background. These are just some of the practices that improve the readability of text on your site.
How you structure the pages on your website is logical and understandable for everyone. Your website structure differs from the place to innovate or try something new.
A decent website structure should have straight-to-the-point navigation and a clear information hierarchy. By carefully structuring your content, you can make it easier for users with different abilities to comprehend and navigate your website.
An example of a good site structure is that properly categorizing pages will make it easier for users to find what they need. If you’re an e-commerce shop selling shoes and bags, then make sure you properly categorize your product pages in the right places.
This ability and feature can be essential for individuals who rely on assistive technologies or have specific accessibility needs. A well-structured website ensures everyone can find what they are looking for efficiently.
Some parts of your website might need color, but not everyone can see the colors you use. Using paint with a pattern helps address accessibility concerns for individuals with visual impairments or color blindness.
While relying solely on color may exclude certain users from understanding important information or navigating through your website, incorporating patterns alongside colors provides additional visual cues and aids comprehension.
Not every object with color in your website needs this, but the critical parts of your website might. For example, buttons and the navigation menu might need a different color, so make sure to add a pattern.
You don’t need your site's innovative and unique design changes if you aim to make it more inclusive. Sometimes, you must rely on the most basic design principles applicable to everything, including your web design, and stick to them.
Universal design principles are adaptable for a reason. If you don’t know what the elements are for a versatile design, here they are:
Keep these principles in mind whenever you’re changing the design of your website to keep it as inclusive as possible.
Another aspect of your website that you can tweak to make it more inclusive is the website navigation. Again, we’ve mentioned this factor earlier and why you should care about straightforward navigation for your site.
The key here is to have navigation that’s easy to understand.
Use labels for category pages that make sense. For example, you usually have a Contact Us page if someone wants to contact you. Don’t label it something experimental like Let’s Talk or something unclear.
Also, ensure that the correct subcategories are in the proper main categories. Otherwise, it will be harder for all users to find what they want.
There are some technological tools that you can add to your website to make it easier for your differently-abled users to use it. Having AI-powered assistive devices can help automate this assistive process on your site, especially if your user has a more specific need that they want.
You can even get plugins that automatically incorporate these AI-assistive tools, so you don’t have to program them from scratch.
Making your website design more inclusive creates a positive and comfortable experience for people who don’t usually have anything automatically catered to them. At the same time, everyone else still gets a proper user experience on your site. Therefore, it’s a win-win, so make sure you apply these design principles so that all users can feel welcome on your site.
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