An inclusive web
With a focus on ‘inclusion’ for 2017’s World Usability Day (November 9th), evermore attention is being brought to inclusive web design’s core duo — Usability and Accessibility.
What is Usability?
Usability lives under the grand umbrella of User-Experience Design (UX). This isn’t a concept unique to the web, however, and you will find good and bad usability in all of your day-to-day adventures — from train fares to light switches, ATMs to escalators, and beetroot to bananas.
Where Accessibility is about targeting as broad a population as possible, Usability is about any single one of those individuals successfully completing a given task.
In a nutshell, Usability for web is about how user-friendly, intuitive, and unambiguous your website is to your users.
Usability is goal-focused
To be able to successfully use your website, you users need an actual reason to even be there in the first place — a goal. While your users mightn’t immediately be aware of what their goal is, having good usability ensures that it can be completed with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction.
Don’t obfuscate your sitemap with vague wording or smother your landing pages with distractions and CTAs all over the place. Keep it to the bare necessities.
Every extra piece of information on a page competes for and detracts from the overall value of content. Make it easy for your users to find their content — without derailing them unnecessarily.
Preempt the inevitable mistakes of your users. You can’t protect everyone across all scenarios, but you can mitigate the impact of the user errors that do occur.
Be clear and concise — being on the path to Usability shouldn’t require cartography skills to navigate your sitemap. Reduce the amount of information that your user is forced to remember, lessening the burden of using your site — that is, reduce your users’ cognitive load and allow them to focus on what’s important.
Arguably of most importance is to evoke goals in your users. Whether they know what they want or not, give them a reason to stick around. Show them the core of what you have to offer. Without finding purpose, your users will quickly get bored and wander off elsewhere. Or worse, they will persevere on through poor Usability, dragging their frustrations—and your brand value—with them.
Your users experience your website as a massive sandwich held together by one giant piece of usability and another monstrous piece of accessibility. In the middle, we have nothing but pure, satisfying value to the user — a satisfied user is a happy user and a happy user converts, buys, and comes back again and again.
As Jakob Nielsen, the originator of modern Usability, has said, “The user experiences usability first and pays later.”
By taking the time to ensure that your website is designed and developed to modern Usability principles, you ensure that you present your users with a quality website.
Applying Usability principles to your website can be done at any stage of a project’s lifespan — from its early days of inception to many years later as a living, breathing website out in the wild.
At Butterfly, we pride ourselves in meeting our clients’ needs in making outstanding websites be both as accessible and as usable as possible — aesthetics and functionality don’t at all need to be compromised to achieve inclusive web design. The future’s digital world can be an accessible and usable internet for everyone.
2017’s World Usability Day is November 9th.