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Reach a wider customer base with your service – Accessibility as a key component of the user experience

Have you ever had problems with reading a small font on your mobile phone? Or reading a text that doesn’t stand out from its background? Have you searched for information that you never found? Or interrupted a task because you didn’t know how to proceed?

Quite often these examples are chalked up to poor usability. However, these are also examples of bad accessibility.

What is accessibility?

Accessibility means that as many people as possible can use websites and mobile applications as easy as possible. Accessibility is designing and implementing services for a diverse group of people. In order to achieve a good result, accessibility must be considered throughout the project and from different aspects. Investing in accessibility improves the customer experience for all customer segments.

Accessibility can be divided into three parts:

  1. Easy to use user interface
  2. Understandable content
  3. Technically flawless implementation
     

Easy to use user interface – Design perspective for accessibility

Good usability and ease of use means that the service is easy to understand. This means that the navigation is clear, information and functionalities are easy to find and use, pages have clear structure, components have sufficient color contrast, functionalities are easy to complete, and the system status is easy to detect.

Concrete examples:

  • Select a color scheme with a sufficient contrast
  • Use a font that is easy to read
  • Create logical, coherent and clear navigation structures and page layout
     

Understandable content – Importance of good content creation

Accessibility means that the content is clear, and the language is understandable. Long and complicated sentences should be avoided so that the text is easy to read. Descriptive subheadings should be used to visually convey levels of importance and make the text easier to scan. Understandability can be improved by using multi-channel communication methods, i.e. providing the content also in form of videos, images and sound in addition to text.

Concrete examples:

  • Use descriptive headings and subheadings
  • Use descriptive and understandable link text
  • Add subtitles to videos and provide text alternative to images
     

Technically flawless implementation – The importance of semantic html

Technical accessibility means that the source code is logical and follows the HTML-standard and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The service can be used with different devices and assistive technologies, such as voice control or a screen reader.

Accessibility is sometimes considered the same as technical accessibility, but this is only one important aspect of accessibility in addition to design and content creation.

Concrete examples:

  • Use semantic html-element
  • Check that elements have focus style
  • Check that everything can be done using only a keyboard
  • Provide text alternative to visual content such as icons and images
  • Font size should be possible to increase up to 200% without loss of content or functionality
     

European Web Accessibility directive

If you work in the public sector or e.g. in finance, health care or the insurance field accessibility might be a very familiar topic to you since the first implementation deadline of the EU Web Accessibility Directive was in September 2019. This has been followed by plenty of projects and discussions relating to accessibility.

Briefly, the Directive requires you to…

  • provide an accessibility statement for the service
  • provide a feedback mechanism for reporting inaccessible content and requesting information
  • make the service content accessible to everyone and meet the specific technical accessibility standard (WCAG)

The directive applies to public sector bodies, but each EU member state can broaden the scope to include other industries and sectors. In Finland, the directive also applies to many private sector companies e.g banks, insurance companies and projects that have received public funding.

You can read more about the requirements in Finland from here: https://www.saavutettavuusvaatimukset.fi/
 

Etteplan can help you make your service accessible

We’ve gone through a few examples on what accessibility means in design, content creation and development. Now it’s time to take a step back and think about accessibility from a broader perspective. When is accessibility important? How does accessibility help us to provide better services?

At Etteplan, we are helping various companies to provide easy to use and valuable services to their customers. It’s important to be sure that we’re genuinely developing services to all users and provide an equal service to everyone. For example, in the health care and financial sectors the user group is very diverse, and we need to make sure that the service is available to all,” says Ella Kaugin, UX Designer and Accessibility Expert at Etteplan.

Despite the development process, accessibility is something that needs to be taken into account also during the service’s maintenance. It’s important to review accessibility regularly and update the accessibility statement if needed.

If you are interested in developing pleasant and efficient services to various user groups or want help with improving the accessibility of your current services, we’re happy to help you.

 
Etteplan Hanna Remula

Hanna Remula

Design Strategist, Cloud and Applications
+358408312414
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