Accessibility vs fanciness? Inclusive design or fancy design?

Kenny Saw KS

What is the font size you use while designing your application? Do you measure the contrast ratio of every color combination in your application? User experience turns bad when a minority group of people, fail to use your application because they could not use it without assistance.

Increasing population of people with disabilities around the world is raising the awareness of creating applications with accessibility in mind. What will be your move, as an application designer, to achieve balance between inclusive design and fancy design? Do we sacrifice the fanciness to be inclusive, or vice versa? Or do we have enough technology and skills today that we can achieve both without sacrificing one or the other?

"There is no one size fits all design". It doesn’t actually sound bad, it is just a common fact that happens everywhere, not only in the context of application design.

By discussing topic publicly, we should not only focus on the argument of keeping both inclusive and fancy design or sacrificing one of them, but more about how we should deliver our application the best way to suit the user.

Who is the target audience?

To be inclusive or to be fancy? Find out who is the target audience first. Keeping in mind that "not one size fit all" rule, understand the target audience is the main focus before deciding which direction to go.

Leave the control to the user

Instead of leaving decisions about the design on the application, why not let the users control it themselves? Having the control of customising how the application can be viewed sounds more user friendly, especially when we don’t want to sacrifice the fanciness, but have to take into consideration accessibility aspects such as font sizes and color contrast.

External assistive technology

A screen reader is another powerful tool that helps users who are visually impaired to use your application without much difficulty. It helps to read out the content such that the users know how they can continue to interact with the application.

Personalisation

What about having two completely different layouts, one to cater for accessibility, one for fanciness? With this, we don’t sacrifice design at all! Personalise the application to allow it to adapt to different users.

The advanced technology allow us to detect easily who the user is. For example, personalisation can be done by detecting what kind of device is being used by the user, such as screen reader or any assistive tool being used, and adapt the design accordingly.

Other common practices

Shortcut keys to help navigation, interface consistency such as swipe direction, should always be kept in mind during application development.

Summing up…

Accessibility is not just about UI design, it’s more about best practise, and understanding of how users interact with the application, it involves many levels of testing including automation and manual testing.

Again, not one size fits all design.

Would you like your site to be more dynamic?