The digital world is a wonderful place, full of resources and services designed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately, these resources are not always available to all users. Web content is often difficult to access for individuals with a disability, be that auditory, visual, cognitive, speech, or physical, making some websites effectively discriminatory.
Inclusive web design is a term to describe a set of principles that aim to make content accessible to all. Newpath Web’s position as a leading web development company in Melbourne means that we have experience designing sites with the end user in mind and are able to tailor content and features to ensure that your content, products, and services are available to all — as they should be.
What does inclusive web design mean?
As web design has evolved, those involved in the industry have become increasingly aware of the impact that their choices have on end users. These choices — which can be made in reference to both visual and technical elements — can significantly affect whether or not a person is able to access essential digital services.
In an ideal world, all people would be able to access the online resources and services they require. However, not all people have the same accessibility requirements, a fact that is often overlooked by web developers. Just as in the real world we consider the needs of each individual — providing an Auslan interpreter, for example, at government press conferences — the digital world needs to act with the same care and principles.
Inclusive web design ensures that everyone has access to the same information.
Web Accessibility Guidelines
In Australia, government websites (for example, myGov) have a legal obligation to ensure that their services are accessible and usable to those with disabilities, as articulated in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. ‘Accessible and usable’ is defined as meeting the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.
While this obligation is not extended to websites in the private sector, such businesses are strongly encouraged to follow the same guidelines. Making your content accessible to everyone is common courtesy and ensures that you are not discriminating against clients and customers.
The WCAG 2.0 Guidelines can be found on the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) ‘Web Accessibility Initiative’ (WAI) website. In summary, they guidelines are broken up into four broad categories that dictates all content should be:
Features of inclusive design
In each of the aforementioned categories, there is a range of practical mandates for all web content:
- Non-text content (images, videos) should be accompanied by text captions.
- Content should have the ability to be presented in different ways without losing meaning.
- Content should be easily seen and heard. This can be achieved through effective use of colour, audio, contrast, and size.
- All functionality should be available from a keyword.
- Users should be given enough time to read content.
- Avoid content forms and styles that have the capacity to cause seizures.
- Organise content in such a way that it can be easily found and navigated.
- Text should be readable and understandable.
- Content should appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Interface and tools should help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Content should be compatible with all current and future users.
These features should be at the forefront for any developer working on a new website and they should be discussed at the initial stages of development rather than added in as an afterthought. Before working with a web development company in Melbourne, be sure to check that they understand WCAG requirements and have the ability to implement the required accessibility features.
You can self-evaluate your website for WCAG compliance using resources provided by the Web Accessibility Initiative. Alternatively, there are several digital tools available online that can check individual features such as colour contrast and alternative text for images.
Newpath Web — leading web development specialists
Here at Newpath Web, we have designed websites for an extensive variety of clients — everyone from Choices Flooring to the Department of Health and Human Services. As a leading web development company in Melbourne, we have a well-developed understanding of accessibility requirements and a proven ability to create innovative websites with the end-user in mind.
Our design team have experience working across the entire gauntlet of CMS platforms, including Kentico, Sitecore, Magento, WordPress, Drupal, Umbraco, Joomla, Open CMS, DotNetNuke, Concrete5, and Adobe Business Catalyst.
Having worked on projects of all shapes and sizes, we understand the importance of pre-planning. Our team will be with you every step of the way, from initial brainstorming sessions to the launch (and beyond).
Ultimately, we understand that your consumers are the most important consideration. Our high-quality, interactive, accessible websites are designed with your customers in mind, providing positive experiences for all users. Contact us today to discover how our team of experienced developers can showcase your business to the world.