The ADA Website Compliance - Remembering the User
Website compliance doesn’t just require an ADA compliance checklist, it requires something that looks at an audience and how they access your content. It requires a unique approach of understanding the different user types that visit a website, and then building a checklist that accounts for each one of them. You can't just design your site with a selector in mind, and then immediately discount every user who doesn't fit that selector. That's a tall order for any designer. Designers need to think specifically about what they need to do for each user, and what the user needs to do to access.
What does Website Compliance mean?
The most basic thing to note about website compliance is that every user is different. Some people have special needs, and most websites won’t be made for all users. For example, the iPhone may be the only computer in the world to run a mobile version of the internet. While it may be the best of all mobile experiences, it will not be the best experience for every user who uses the iPhone. Websites that are designed for a mobile audience will have different strategies for accessibility to different kinds of content. For example, sites for trucking companies tend to have different navigation structures than sites for restaurants. Even though the navigation structure is the same, you can’t assume that the layout will be easily accessible for every user.
ADA Website ComplianceThe User's Perspective
Although there are many theories of website design out there, there isn't one universal design approach. The style of your site will depend on your target audience, which could be for the main site or an ecommerce site, for instance. It could also depend on the goal of your website, whether it is to build a business or sell an item. If you are designing for a business, you probably want to make sure you set up a visitor that has accounts, and has the ability to order from the site. If you are designing for a consumer site, you probably want to set up a visitor that has purchasing power, and might have a plan to purchase something in the near future. Either way, all of your design elements need to account for the unique needs of the visitor
What exactly is Website Compliance.
Website compliance means making sure your site meets the ADA requirements, as laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires all websites to be accessible to people with disabilities -- either by design or the use of assistive technology. The ADA website gives some examples of accessibility, and also goes into detail about key responsibilities for both websites and ADA contractors. A couple of recent media reports have discussed the question of the number of websites (and the same applies to websites for private companies) that are still not accessible to people with disabilities. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked into the numbers, and found that: A staggering 1 in 3 Americans has a disability.
ADA Website ComplianceThe User's Perspective
For most designers who have worked with people with disabilities and the government, ADA compliance isn’t even a concept that has to be considered. We’ve simply designed everything with users in mind. No longer do we give them boxes to tick; we ensure that each interaction we have with a user has real, positive, purposeful, and innovative results. And at a minimum, the design is good enough to not need to change when the user changes.
Website Compliance and the User's Perspective
In working with quite a few of websites over the last 10 years, I've seen many different approaches to website accessibility, and they all have one thing in common: they assume that every user type has the same input medium (HTML), the same type of media on that medium (typical desktop). And that’s a giant mistake. Different user types require different things to be accessible to them. For example, from a print standpoint, a newspaper website needs to behave much differently than a website of video game console. However, all of those rules apply to the Web, as it becomes a very different medium -- one that's very different from the classic print medium. You cannot just use your old print rules on the Web, even though most browsers now offer more advanced print support.
Website Compliance and the Designer's Perspective
Ultimately, your user experience isn't done after you put a design in place. If you don't take into consideration the user, you don't have a compliant website. Without a focus on their needs, you're simply creating an experience for yourself, instead of for the consumer. The five steps above outline how a designer can make sure the website meets the needs of their users, and help ensure a successful experience for the user. The ADA website checklist is just one of many resources you can use to ensure your site has all of the user needs listed above. One resource you should definitely explore is a UI/UX program that addresses ADA compliance, accessibility, and usability issues.
ADA Website Compliance Tips for Business Owners
ADA Website Compliance: The Design-First Approach The ADA compliance checklist is a fantastic place to start. It allows you to test out every piece of your site, before you get too deep into development and design. But, you should always be working toward the end goal of helping your users. Design the solution from the start. A great way to start this process is to have a conversation with your users about what they would like to see on your site. With user research in hand, you'll find your solution will be clear before you build the website. You'll have a better idea of which information you can easily see on your site, and which should be placed in the sidebar, or not shown at all. Always keep in mind that your users' goals are different than yours.
Website Compliance and Business Owners
The most important thing to remember about website compliance and ADA is that it's more than an aesthetic thing. Designers, developers and marketers all need to focus on making sure the site looks good to users, and that it helps them access it in the best way possible. The business owner needs to know that their site is in compliance with ADA and HTML5 and that it works for users. The business owner needs to be certain that users are able to access content, even if they don't necessarily look like a possible user type in the eyes of the designer. It's important to remember that you don't have to build a site that caters to every possible user type, but you do have to build a site that fulfills the needs of the business owner and their visitors.
ADA Website Compliance Tips for Designers
Web accessibility requires a lot of different components. One of those components is user experience, and user experience is something the web design community has yet to coalesce around. There’s a lot of talk about how useful web design is to users, but there isn’t as much focus on the fact that users need something that is responsive, fast and fun to use.
Website Compliance and Designers
A lot of time gets thrown out there to emphasize the design side of designing a website. But if you're creating a new website, it's very easy to forget that the end user is still an important part of this. A lot of what we do today, in terms of designing a website, is actually geared around the idea that the user is "it." In other words, that we as designers are designing a website that people use. We're just building the platform for that, after all. We often forget that the user is also the product. It's the end-user that will come back to the website and use it over and over again. So when you design a website, keep in mind that the user is not simply a visual. Think of them as an abstract figure: what is it that the user needs to do? What is it that the user wants to do?
It's important to know who will be using your website. Don't overlook your audience. It's easier to keep people coming back when you're focused on them and catering to their needs. This is especially important in the context of ADA law, where there are many sites out there that still don't properly incorporate ADA standards. The focus of ADA compliance should be to understand your users and meet their needs. The focus of business site design should be on what your users will do with your site, as opposed to forcing them to read and use text-heavy design elements. And the focus of testing should be on finding out how your users will interact with your site, and what problems they might run into.