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Accessibility in Web Design and Web Applications

“Accessibility” is a term we hear a lot. It refers to the ability for anyone to navigate a certain space regardless of their range of abilities. We see supermarkets with automated doors, buildings with ramps, and parking lots with designated spaces. The constant strive for better accessibility is more than just an act of inclusion though, it means allowing yourself to reach the widest range of customers possible. And needless to say, more customers means more business. 

So how does this tie in to how websites and apps are designed?

The problem is form over function. In today’s trend of minimalist, sleek, clean design, many websites and apps tend to favor aesthetic over usability. Although they look great and check all the boxes for most users, there’s still a large group who are left out.

A recent study showed that 1 billion people (that’s 15% of the world’s population!) experience some form of disability. 57 million of those are in the US alone. If it seems like I’m using the term “disability” as a blanket statement, I apologize. The truth is that there thousands of different forms of disability, not all of which are visible, and each with their unique set of challenges. That means that there’s a huge swath of the population who could directly benefit from better web and app design. Still, in a time when inclusivity is key, why is accessibility often neglected?

  1. From a design perspective, full accessibility requires adhering to several strict style guidelines that can impact the overall look and feel of a website or application.
  2. Cost plus time. Simply put, it takes more time and thus more money to implement design with accessibility in mind. It’s not always easy to completely overhaul a website or app. That’s why it’s so important to start each project with accessibility in mind. In the long run, this also saves costs in maintenance and customer support down the line.
  3. People with an impairment or disability may represent a small part of any customer base. But this is a “chicken or the egg” quandary. If they made their site more accessible, wouldn’t that expand their audience?

How Does Accessibility Benefit My Business?

  1. It could prevent future legal issues: As we all know, in the US we already have laws that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities when providing a service or product. When the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, it mostly pertained to physical spaces like buildings and retail. But as employment becomes increasingly digital (especially with remote working), how long before we make laws that protect disabilities on digital platforms? Courts remain divided on whether or not websites and apps should be covered by the ADA. However, in 2017, over 800 lawsuits were filed for this reason alone.
  2. It can only help your company image and reputation: Companies who embrace customers with impairments can only stand to benefit from accessibility in the long run. These steps don’t go unnoticed, and help contribute to a reputation of social responsibility and care for all users. It’s more important now than ever to take these steps towards building a great reputation for your company.
  3. It’s smart business: Better accessibility means attracting a larger user base. And if you become the go-to platform for folks with a specific need that other companies aren’t addressing, word travels fast. Not only are you helping to address a specific need in your user base, but you are expanding your business as well.
  4. In some cases, accessibility optimization is quick: The easiest thing is to start a project with accessibility in mind. But if you already have a product that needs optimization, in many cases it’s not even that difficult. It could be as simple as implementing a zoom function, text-to-speech feature, or raising the contrast on the color scheme.

Accessibility optimization is a smart move for any website or app design. It not only improves the product experience for millions of users, but also contributes to a more inclusive company image.

Ready to optimize the accessibility of your website or app? We can help! Get starting by contacting us, send an email at hello@lapizd.com or call (407) 385-0537.

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Sergio Velazquez

Sergio Velazquez

I have 14 years of UX and design experience. During that time, I’ve develop and oversight hundreds of digital projects. I’ve work with clients such as Boston University, University of Miami, Disney and Dell as well as many others.

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