November 11 is World Usability Day. It’s a day to celebrate progress toward equal access to digital technology. It’s also a day to set goals to improve access. For 2021, the focus is on designing the online world for trust, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The pandemic adds extra significance to World Usability Day. Digital inclusion is all the more important as millions of people work, shop, and go to school remotely.
At Understood, we believe digital experiences should be engaging and easy for everyone to use. This year, we shared our commitment to accessibility and usability. These two concepts are often seen as separate — or even at odds with one another. On World Usability Day, we encourage everyone to bring accessibility and usability together. Here are concrete steps you can take.
Commit to inclusive design
Inclusive design addresses the wide range of human diversity. This includes the 70 million people in the United States who have learning and thinking differences like ADHD, dyslexia, and other “invisible” disabilities. Placing diversity at the center of the design process benefits everyone.
Here are some examples of how Understood combines accessibility and usability in ways that help all users:
- Each year, we conduct hundreds of hours of user testing to help us go above and beyond compliance with accessibility standards.
- We’ve found that wider spacing between letters, words, and lines of text improves readability for people with and without dyslexia.
- We chunk out information and use lots of white space to help users focus. This includes people with ADHD as well as people who are temporarily distracted by stress, fatigue, or working at home with young kids.
- We use motion graphics in a way that enhances focus. But we also provide a “reduce motion” toggle on our homepage so users can turn off this feature if they need or want to.
Collaborate and advocate
We’re setting out to improve accessibility and usability for everyone, but especially for people who learn and think differently. One way we’re doing this is by sharing what we've learned — and also by working with others to amplify and accelerate these learnings.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the accessibility guidelines that are used around the world. Understood is proud to be part of the teams that are building out the next set of global guidelines. Central to that effort is expanding the guidelines to cover more cognitive and learning disabilities and making usability testing a key component.
Automated compliance checkers are merely the first rung on the ladder toward universal inclusion. Continued progress must involve testing with users, including people with invisible disabilities.
Understood is committed to improving accessibility and usability for all. We know there will always be more work to do. And on World Usability Day, we invite organizations and individuals to partner with us so we can work together to shape the world for difference.