Accessible UX Principles and Guidelines

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  • Designing a web for everyone combines good design and usability with accessibility to create inclusive design.

    The accessible UX principles draw on three main sources:  The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which  provide the foundation for web accessibility guidelines and best practices; the Principles of Universal Design, seven principles that work for the widest range of human abilities; and design thinking, an approach that emphasizes grounding the process in human needs.

    Using the accessible UX principles and guidelines, you can create websites and web applications that work for everyone—including people with disabilities.

    Each of the guidelines is explained and illustrated in the book, A Web for Everyone.

    People First: Designing for differences

    People are the first consideration, and sites are designed with the needs of everyone in the audience in mind.

    • Know your audience.

    Clear Purpose: Well-defined goals

    People enjoy products that are designed for the audience and guided by a defined purpose and goals.

    • Start with purpose and goals.
    • Design for clarity and simplicity.
    • Think “accessibility first.”
    • Make templates accessible.
    • Choose an accessibility strategy.

    Solid Structure: Built to standards

    People feel confident using the design because it is stable, robust, and secure.

    • Code content to be machine-readable.
    • Code to standards.
    • Use standard web technologies.
    • Organize code for clarity and flow.
    • Use stylesheets to separate content and presentation.
    • Use semantic markup for content.

    Easy Interaction: Everything works

    People can use the product across all modes of interaction and operating with a broad range of devices.

    • Identify and describe interactive elements.
    • Use basic HTML codes correctly.
    • Use WAI-ARIA for complex elements.
    • Use features of the technology platform.
    • Provide accessible instructions and feedback.
    • Support keyboard interaction.
    • Make controls large enough to operate easily.
    • Let users control the operation of the interface.
    • Design for contingencies.
    • Allow users to request more time.

    Helpful Wayfinding: Guides users

    People can navigate a site, feature, or page following self-explanatory signposts.

    • Create consistent cues for orientation and navigation.
    • Present things that are the same in the same way.
    • Differentiate things that are different.
    • Provide orientation cues.
    • Provide clear landmarks within the page.
    • Provide alternative ways to navigate.

    Clean Presentation:  Supports meaning

    People can perceive and understand elements in the design.

    • Design simply.
    • Minimize distracting clutter.
    • Design for customization of the display.
    • Support customization through the browser.
    • Design content for easy comprehension.
    • Use color contrast to separate foreground from background.
    • Use visual and semantic white space.
    • Provide enough space between lines of text.
    • Use clean typography.

    Plain Language: Creates a conversation

    People can read, understand, and use the information.

    • Write for your audience.
    • Follow plain language guidelines for writing content.
    • Write sentences and paragraphs for easy scanning.
    • Support users through their tasks.
    • Structure the whole page for scanning and comprehension.
    • Write helpful links.
    • Use language your audience is familiar with, or provide definitions.
    • Provide plain language summaries of complex content.
    • Don’t rely on readability formulas.
    • Usability test your content.

    Accessible Media: Supports all senses

    People can understand and use information contained in media, such as images, audio, video, animation, and presentations.

    • Don’t use only color to communicate meaning.
    • Provide instructions without relying on visual cues.
    • Describe the content or meaning of images.
    • Provide captions and descriptions for video.
    • Format captions to enhance meaning.
    • Provide alternatives to time-based media.
    • Use dynamic elements carefully.
    • Make presentations accessible.

    Universal Usability: Creates delight

    People can focus on the experience and their own goals because the product anticipates their needs.

    • Design for exploration and discovery:
      • Design for direct manipulation.
      • Disclose the right things at the right time.
      • Give rewards.
      • Support beginners and experts.
    • Create a conversation:
      • Layer information.
      • Tell a story.
    • Be informative and helpful
      • Give instructions at the right time, in the right place.
    • Practice usability for accessibility:
      • Do usability testing.
      • Include people with disabilities in usability work.

    In Practice: An Integrated Process

    People and organizations consider accessibility integral to their work and products.

    • Make accessibility the way you do business.
    • Make a commitment to accessibility.
    • Assess what’s needed for an integrated practice:
      • Evaluate the current site.
      • Identify ways to allocate resources.
      • Identify opportunities to integrate accessibility into current processes.
      • Assess current knowledge and readiness.
    • Support an integrated practice:
      • Set policies and develop training.
      • Choose content and development tools that support accessibility.
      • Create a style guide and media library.
      • Include people with disabilities.
      • Provide tools and assistive technology for ongoing evaluation.
      • Make accessibility part of site maintenance.


    One Response to “Accessible UX Principles and Guidelines”

    1. […] you’re looking for a shortcut, Whitney’s new book A Web for Everyone provides a set of guidelines (nicely detailed so that you could use them for heuristic reviews, plus a ton of technical advice […]