October 22, 2020

Accessible vs Inclusive Design

Inclusive design is a methodology, intended to optimize products and services for the full spectrum of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age, and other forms of human difference. In designing for inclusivity, designers look to provide a variety of options in which to experience the product or service, rather than a single, one-size-fits-all route.

While accessible design focuses on the end result, a product that meets the accessibility guidelines published by various governmental and industry groups, which aim to make sure people with disabilities can access websites.

Inclusive design strives to create products and services that as many users as possible can use and feel welcome and included during their experience. Inclusive design recognizes that solutions that work for people with a disability are likely to also work well for people in diverse circumstances.

The Principles of Inclusive Design

Provide content in multiple ways to create comparable experiences.

Ensure that each of the elements on your website can be experienced in more than one way and that each method is equivalent to the value provided.  For example, adding alt-text descriptions for images, video captions, and audio transcripts.

Consider various situations when designing.

Users will be visiting your website in a variety of different situations and your design should accommodate a range of circumstances. For example, the addition of video captions is a necessary feature for a user with a hearing impairment, but it's also useful for users browsing your site in a location, like a library, where they don't want to turn up the volume.

Be consistent and maintain design conventions.

Users need to know what to expect when visiting your website. They should be able to guess what each of their actions will do. Your website should be designed with well-established design conventions. These design conventions should be used consistently within the site to reinforce their meaning and purpose. For example, the web navigation convention of a logo leading back to the homepage.

Give control, let the user interact with content in their preferred way.

Do not disable the ability to change standard browser and platform settings such as orientation, font size, zoom, and contrast.

Prioritize important tasks and information within content and layout.

Interfaces can be difficult to understand when core features are not clearly disclosed and prioritized. Your website may provide lots of information and functionality, but people should be able to focus on one thing at a time. Identify the main purpose of the design, and then the content and features needed to fulfill that purpose.

You can learn more with Toptal's article, Accessible Design vs Inclusive Design (with Infographic).

Are you planning on designing a new website or mobile app? I can help! Please contact me to get the conversation started on how we can serve your customers.

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