Web site accessibility and useability

Designs that work for everyone

Accessibility and useability are two of the most important components in successful Web design and yet they often seem to be neglected.

Brief definitions:

  • accessibility: making the content of a Web site available to everyone, including those with disabilities.
  • usability: making a Web site as simple and intuitive to navigate as possible, and presenting information in an easily readable format.

Many elements of accessibility and usability overlap. For example, many Web sites use fixed font sizes (they cannot be resized by the visitor using their browser controls).

Accessibility - My Web site looks fine, what's the problem?

Making a Web site accessible to everyone takes little effort, although it is another element of Web design that is neglected by many Web designers.

Accessible features need not compromise the functionality or appearance of a Web site, and can aid elements of it such as search engine optimisation by providing good linking structures with correct usage of XHTML tags.

I use professional Web design standards to ensure that each Web site I design is accessible to those with disabilities.

Usability - The heart of good Web site design

Good Web site usability can be demonstrated by highlighting some examples of bad Web site usability:

  • the navigation of a Web site is not immediately understandable
  • enquiry forms give no confirmation that they have been successful
  • hyperlinks are not immediately obvious because either the designer has underlined text that is not a link or removed the underline from valid links
  • overcrowded Web pages with blinking text and busy graphics (distracting and annoying)
  • pop-up windows
  • the Web site takes too long to load

The list above gives some indication of the factors that need to be considered in making a Web site usable.

I pay close attention to the usability of each Web site I produce. I can also act in a consultancy role and give a professional, independent assessment of your existing Web site, helping to make it as effective as possible.