Baking Diversity, Accessibility, and Equity into Your Inclusive Design Process
If you own an e-commerce website, create online content, or use it to connect with your target audience, it’s smart to give all your website visitors the same experience. No matter your goal––sales, conversions, traffic, engagement––the core idea of your inclusive design process is to provide a website experience that allows your visitors to get what they are looking for and keep coming back for more, no matter the ability level.
Have you thought about all of the unique needs of your audience?
When we say ‘all’ of your target audience, we also include those visitors that may have been unintentionally excluded. These people could match your target audience but have different needs regarding language, age, ability, and more. That’s why we need an inclusive design process.
Inclusive design lets everyone have an equal experience when interacting with your website. It’s a design-first approach to cater to varying needs, challenges, or requirements of people with permanent, temporary, or situational limitations, including but not limited to physical and cognitive learning disabilities.
Let’s discuss the aspects you need to consider when building a website and creating an inclusive design process.
What is Inclusive Design and Why is it Important?
Inclusive design essentially means creating website content that caters to as broad and diverse a user base as possible. This could mean people with certain impairments, from multiple geographies, or something as simple as a user being unable to sign up for your subscription service because the system refused to accept a hyphen in their last name.
Inclusive design encompasses design methodologies and techniques to allow all users to have an equal experience without exclusion.
Inclusive Design and Diversity
For example, let’s assume that when you started your website, it was visited by and catered to a local audience with English as the local language. However, now you are in a country with a multilingual population where English is the second language. You must now enable certain translation capabilities on your website to accommodate your users overseas.
A diverse user base comes from various age groups, in different genders, are located across the globe. There are many ways to create a website or blog that is inclusive enough to reach that diverse audience.
Create an inclusive user experience by remaining sensitive to certain questions that may be asked as part of your sign-up process. For example, your sign-up form asks a user for their gender. To be inclusive, you must provide alternate options to cater to individuals who may identify differently or choose not to answer.
Another way to reach a more diverse audience is to incorporate diversity into your content and images. An image that contains a group of people from multiple backgrounds of different ages and gender will resonate with a much larger and more diverse audience than an image of a group that looks and is dressed the same.
Inclusive Design and Accessibility
Accessibility is an important component of the design process and an integral part of user experience. Inclusive design and accessibility allow you to reach a larger, more diverse audience. Understanding the different needs of people while considering the varying accessibility issues, both temporary, permanent, and situational, will allow you to create and design a website that is easy to use for everyone, thus improving the overall user experience.
The WCAG Overview provides a detailed understanding of how to make your web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Do you know if your website is accessible and not excluding anyone based on ability? Another item to consider from an accessibility perspective is users with cognitive or neurological disabilities. As you review the guidelines and the accessibility requirements for your website or store, here are a couple of examples to get you up and running:
- Transcription and captions for audio and video content to aid users with hearing disabilities
- Alternative Text for images to assist users with visual disabilities
- Use easy-on-the-eye fonts and colors for text, so the content is easy to understand
- Some users may not use a mouse, which means your website is keyboard navigation friendly
Inclusive Design and Equity
Incorporating equity in your website design allows you to focus on providing an equal experience to everyone, including those who may have been previously excluded or underrepresented.
Let’s say you own an online food store. Adding a complete product description to outline certain ingredients, such as dairy and gluten, provides an inclusive experience for customers with food allergies. Another example of equitable design could be representing minorities and thinking of ways to create an LGBTQ+ inclusive website experience.
An Inclusive Design Process Reaches More People
Inclusive design enables you to create an equal and accessible website experience while acknowledging that all of us aren’t the same and that our needs and abilities differ regarding vision, hearing, digital literacy, motor abilities, etc.
Your website’s user experience must consider and cater to diverse users. Inclusive design allows your product or service to be available to everyone regardless of how they engage or learn online. Inclusivity in your website helps to expand your reach and creates a pleasing digital experience for all.