Web Design Best Practices (part 2): Accessibility

In addition to acknowledging that users have developed habits of interaction over the years, every well designed site should be accessible to the largest (target) audience possible. But accessibility goes farther than that.

Websites are a tool as well as communication channel, we must consider not only the demographic and psychographic profiles of our market, we must also think of very nuts and bolts things such as disabilities (visual impairment, dyslexia, deafness, colour blindness) and constraints (high-speed versus dial-up access, screen size, operating systems, and so on).

Accessibility features refer to various standards and commonalities that assist users by giving them what they expect, and what they need, to make their interaction successful and efficient. For more information on technical aspects of accessibility, please visit the World Wide Web Consortium
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

One way of looking at the issue of accessibility is to think that websites should be easily
read. The concept of readability captures the speed and efficiency with which information is consumed and processed. It can refer to navigability, various types of visual information (graphics, imagery, rich media, and to alternatives to rich media) in addition to written words.

Of course, some traditional graphical design issues are at work when designing a page. But online, there are far more rigorous constraints than there are on the printed page. One recent
study by Jakob Nielsen suggests that there on a web page there should be no more than 28% of the content one would view on the printed page. According to this study, users spend an average of 4.4 seconds per 100 words.

What should this mean for a well-designed website? First, put your content creation machine on a strict diet. Say more with fewer words, use small graphics, bullet-points and bolded text to enhance the readability of the page. House your content in a navigation schema that makes it easy for text readers to explore.

No comments:

Post a Comment