The term “Universal Design” was coined by the architect Ronald Mace to describe the concept of designing products and spaces to provide an experience that is aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.
Starting from the idea that design is for everyone, the concept of inclusive design came about.
“These Inclusive Design Principles are about putting people first. It’s about designing for the needs of people with permanent, temporary, situational, or changing disabilities — all of us really.”
When I build my clients’ sites, like when I built my own, I apply these principles to make sure the experiences I craft are truly inclusive.
01. Comparable experience
Provide a comparable experience for all, so people can accomplish tasks in a way that suits their needs without undermining the quality of the content.
People are diverse and access content in different ways, I make sure that all the content in my site can be accessed in a comparable way, examples of this include alt text for images, transcriptions for audio content and captions for videos among others.
02. Consider the situation
People use your interface in different situations. Make sure your interface delivers a valuable experience to people regardless of their circumstances.
People’s accessibility needs mean they need to access content in all sorts of places and devices. I make sure my content is ready to be accessed on all screen sizes, with sufficient contrast to be legible in many light circumstances, ready for screen readers and slow connections.
03. Be consistent
Use familiar conventions and apply them consistently.
Creating sites that make the best of existing design patterns and conventions for navigation and layouts, using consistent text and call to actions, and using a clear structure make it easy for people to find the content they need.
04. Give control
Ensure people are in control. People should be able to access and interact with content in their preferred way.
Often in design we obsess with the way we think our work should be display, and fail to see how we are taking away control from our audiences. Allowing zoom, using relative units, allowing people full control of their scrolling and to stop animations for example using media queries gives them control over their experience.
05. Offer choice
Consider providing different ways for people to complete tasks, especially those that are complex or non standard.
Creating different ways to complete a task allows people to use interact better with you and your content. Providing text version for graphs and charts, using both email links and contact forms and allowing people to provide information via text or audio are ways to offer choice.
06. Prioritize content
Help users focus on core tasks, features, and information by prioritizing them within the content and layout.
Using plain language and keeping priority on the primary goal of a page helps people access content and complete tasks easier. Some ways to do this include eliminating pop-up windows, distracting moving parts and multiple call to actions.
07. Add value
Consider the value of features and how they improve the experience for different users.
Providing features that make interacting with your content easier and more efficient is a way to add value.