As a web design specialist, are you paying enough attention to usability? We’re talking about being careful to create a site that’s easy to read and navigate, and provides users with a clear and satisfying user experience.
In many ways, it’s common sense. Your duty as designer is to convey your client’s message as simply and distinctly as possible. Few visitors enjoy navigating through cluttered web sites and many will click away in frustration.
However, one of your prime reasons for paying attention to usability is to cater for those with disabilities and older web users.
Catering for the Less Able
The fact is that not all those who visit your clients’ sites will have perfect vision and motor control. Statistics reveal that around 25% of the world’s web users suffer from visual, auditory or mobility disability issues that can affect their online experience.
Consider, for example, that one in ten males suffer from colour blindness. An instruction such as ‘click the green button’ would be meaningless to many of them.
Usability becomes especially important when your visitors are seniors. Many older visitors suffer from problems such as tunnel vision and partial sight. Another relevant problem is arthritic hands, which make it hard to control a mouse effectively.
Men and women aged 50+ make up 34% of the Australian online audience, the biggest percentage of any age group. When you consider this is the demographic with the highest spending power, it makes sense to cater to them.
Tips for Usability
Readability depends on having fonts of adequate size and suitable colour and backgrounds that provide contrast. In almost all cases, black text on white or light backgrounds works best.
Avoid background patterns as they can severely limit contrast and readability. Also, avoid fancy colours which may not render well on all machines. Stick with the 216 colours deemed browser safe.
Adding click here to all links would help users with impaired vision who couldn’t make out the blue text that indicates a clickable link.
Next, make sure to add descriptive alt tags your images to cater for those relying on text-to-speech software.
Winners All Round
When designing web sites for your clients, it’s natural to want to create something visually stunning. But remember usability is the key for everyone, not just the physically disadvantaged. No one’s going to wait around forever for your Flash animation to load.
The great thing is that focusing on usability will please all visitors to your websites, not just those with disabilities or vision problems. Regular users will thank you too for providing a clear and satisfying browsing experience. And if you don’t win any awards for art, your clients will love you and that’s all that should matter to Sydney web designers who care.