An attendee asked why I was interested in accessibility: Did I or someone in my life have a disability? I’m used to answering this question—to which the answer is no. A lot of people seem to assume that a personal connection is the only reason someone would care about accessibility.
This is a problem. For the web to be truly accessible, everyone who makes websites needs to care about accessibility. We tend to use our own abilities as a baseline when we’re designing and building websites. Instead, we need to keep in mind our diverse users and their diverse abilities to make sure we’re creating inclusive products that aren’t just designed for a specific range of people.
This echoes what I’m reading in Tragic Design: The Impact of Bad Product Design and How to Fix It by Jonathan Shariat and Cynthia Savard Saucier: “We shouldn’t wait until we or someone close to us needs it to start caring about accessibility.”
Manuel’s post contains a lot more on getting started with accessibility. Check it out!
It serves me as a reminder that inclusive design is about creating a diversity of ways for people to participate—good design is for everyone.
I’d like to share another example of solving for one case, extending to many. This one comes from my team at Automattic. We’re called “Delta” — and we focus on making the editing–publishing flow for WordPress.com as smooth and pain-free as possible.
From our own experience, we know that publishing content to the entire world can be nerve-wracking! This “publishing confidence” experience started out with a specific case in mind: the WordPress.com announcements blog. With 43 million email subscribers as of the latest count, the authors at Automattic writing for this English-language blog never want to accidentally hit that “Publish” button before a new announcement is polished and ready to go.
That’d be a total disaster, right?
Fast-forward to 2017 — the Delta team starts revamping these same publishing flows as we upgrade many of the key features in the new WordPress.com interface. As we researched the pain points in the experience, we realized that this same feeling of anxiety could be shared by many other people. In fact, our customers often wrote in to request this exact thing for their own blogs.
There needs to be an “Are You Sure” button on the publish section, I’ve accidentally published a blog post too early so many times. — A WordPress mobile app user, writing it to support in 2017.
What if we could make a product change to reduce that same anxiety for everyone? Well, yes — it makes sense. The team also upgraded the blog post preview pane to add in a switcher for screen sizes — mobile, tablet, and desktop — to further improve the confidence in the end result.
Solving this in the WordPress.com editor experience means making it much harder to accidentally publish on any blog. The change enables all of our customers to breathe easier. Like us with the WordPress.com announcements blog — they can now feel more confident that the changes they’re sharing are ready for the world.
See also Publishing on WordPress.com for a project-level report on improving this publishing experience written by colleague Shaun Andrews.
For day 13 of 15 of inclusive design, we’ll look at speed and connectivity as an exclusion example. How the trend of “Lite” apps built for certain markets to drive adoption brings needed improvements to everyone.
About this Inclusive Design series —In 3 days I’ll give a talk on inclusive design at WordCamp Phoenix 2018. Leading up to the conference I’m publishing notes on voices, stories, products, and other resources: everything I’m learning about this emerging practice. This is day 12 of 15. Read more about the series.
The “OXO Good Grips Story” is an astounding example of inclusive design, solving for one and extending to many. An opportunity that grew from one person’s kitchen solution into a $60 million business.
Sam Farber — who created Copco enamel cast-iron cookware in 1960 — later developed what is now the quintessential OXO kitchen peeler from seeing his wife struggle with the classic shape and size of metal kitchen tools. He solved her pain by creating an ergonomic and comfortable grip that even people with arthritis could use. Turns out everyone else loves it, too.
The idea was always, from the start, to make useful products for people of all ages and levels of dexterity. We can improve every day life for people, without them even knowing or thinking about it. — Sam Farber
Watch the video, “Objectified: Smart Design OXO Good Grips Story,” for a behind-the-scenes look at OXO’s product development process and inclusive mindset.
For day 12 of 15 of inclusive design, I’ll share about reduced anxiety when publishing to WordPress.com websites. A problem solved originally for one use case by adding an extra step for confidence.
About this Inclusive Design series —In 4 days I’ll give a talk on inclusive design at WordCamp Phoenix 2018. Leading up to the conference I’m publishing notes on voices, stories, products, and other resources: everything I’m learning about this emerging practice. This is day 11 of 15. Read more about the series.
Making your app accessible to visually impaired users benefits all your users. — Ayesha Zafar on the Invision blog
Taking the principles of inclusive design from idea to action means changing how and what we design. A reminder that technical details matter as much as the intention.
Via the design.blog/inclusive checklist under “Building inclusion into designs” we see how this relates to accessibility, “There’s no inclusion without accessibility.”
The amazing thing about doing the hard work for universal access is that the changes benefit everyone. Design for slow bandwidth? It’ll load faster for all people.
Here’s the full text for this checklist section, for reference:
There’s no inclusion without accessibility. Accessible designs will present differently depending on the medium you’re working in; consider physical, visual, auditory, financial, and other factors as well as an individual’s temporary or permanent limitations to accessing each. Is your video accessible to someone with hearing impairment? Is your website accessible to someone with a low internet bandwidth? Is your copy readable by individuals with different education levels, for whom the text is in a second language, or who are new to the subject matter? The more contexts you consider, the more accessible and inclusive your designs will be.
On a digital product team it is everyone’s responsibility to have empathy for users and thus all users, no matter their ability, should be considered in the design process. — Ayesha Zafar on the Willow Tree Apps blog
Thank you, Ayesha. 💯
For day 11 of 15 of inclusive design, another example of “solve for one, extend to many — accessibility and usability considered first in the design: the story of “OXO Good Grips.”
About this Inclusive Design series —In 5 days I’ll give a talk on inclusive design at WordCamp Phoenix 2018. Leading up to the conference I’m publishing notes on voices, stories, products, and other resources: everything I’m learning about this emerging practice. This is day 10 of 15. Read more about the series.
1. Recognize exclusion.
2. Broaden perspectives and build empathy.
3. Bring diversity into teams and processes.
4. Solve inclusively for one, extend to many.
Kat herself describes these principles of inclusive design superbly in this brief video, from an O’Reilly design conference in March 2017.
For day 10 of 15 of inclusive design, I’ll share a story about making an app accessible to visually impaired users — which then benefits all users.
About this Inclusive Design series —In 6 days I’ll give a talk on inclusive design at WordCamp Phoenix 2018. Leading up to the conference I’m publishing notes on voices, stories, products, and other resources: everything I’m learning about this emerging practice. This is day 9 of 15. Read more about the series.
We’re committed to inclusive design and accessible services — using new technology to make banking easier for you. — “Barclays Access” statement
Accessible banking used to mean statements in large print. Now it involves fingerprints, face recognition and hi-vis debit cards. #Accessibility isn't just about people with disabilities- it's about all of us. Check out our article with @guardian for more https://t.co/cLcA07OtGD
The full case study is in The Guardian — Barclays Bank learned that embracing inclusive design, starting with accessibility, creates a better solution for all their customers. It’s a commercial opportunity when meeting a real need — not an expensive compliance issue.
Today, I manage all my financial affairs by smartphone,” she says. “It has genuinely transformed my life, cutting out all those frustrating trips to the bank.” — June Maylin (a blind customer of the bank).
June’s story provides an insight into how the technologies designed to make banking easier for everyone can be particularly effective for people with disabilities, and are steadily giving people much more control over their money. Even small, relatively low-tech initiatives can make a big difference.
Small changes make a big impact, and inclusive design can have a major impact on revenue and business success by solving for one and extending to many.
For day 9 of inclusive design, we’ll review the principles discussed so far: 1/ Start with exclusion, 2/ Broaden your perspective to gain empathy, 3/ Bring diversity into teams and processes and 4/ Solve inclusively for one, extend to many.
About this Inclusive Design series —In 1 week I’ll give a talk on inclusive design at WordCamp Phoenix 2018. Leading up to the conference I’m publishing notes on voices, stories, products, and other resources: everything I’m learning about this emerging practice. This is day 8 of 15. Read more about the series.