Importance Of Accessibility In Web Applications And How To Ensure An Inclusive User Experience

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Today, digital interaction critically influences online business growth. Hence, the concept of custom web application has emerged from its chrysalis. Now, it plays a dominant role in ensuring web application accessibility. The more inclusive the application, the better the chances of facilitating conversions. Convenience is no longer the criteria for web accessibility. An inclusive web application ensures its usability across different user segments irrespective of their abilities or disabilities, age, temporary impairments, etc.

How Web Application Accessibility Results In An Inclusive User Experience

Let us start by defining what web accessibility means. Broadly speaking, it refers to making a customized web application usable across user segments. Everyone, including differently-abled people, can use it easily. An important point to note here is that the term differently abled is neither restrictive nor discriminatory. It encompasses everything that can affect accessing the web in any way, like cognitive, visual, auditory, and motor impairments. Making an application accessible means that all users can equally:

  • Understand the different types of content present on the web app
  • Navigate through the various sections of the web app easily
  • Interact intuitively with the app
  • Contribute through feedback, reviews, testimonials, etc

Hence, irrespective of whether your impairment is temporary or permanent, web application accessibility will ensure that there is no change in your user experience.

Let us look at specific implementations to understand better how to improve user experience through web app accessibility.
For users with poor vision or facing visual impairments, web app developers can include

  • Alternatives for textual content, like using voiceover techniques that read out the content
  • Make the website compatible with screen readers
  • Integrate optimum contract between the UI and the content
  • Large font sizes with the option to adjust

Hearing impairment can be handled by implementing text transcripts in audio content and captions to video content. Integrating techniques like keyboard navigation and enhanced time to read and use content can help users with motor impairments access the web app conveniently. People facing cognitive difficulties can be encouraged to access the web app by uploading clear content with an adequately defined textual hierarchy. Additionally, web app developers can also improve web app structure logic and predictability.

Web Application Accessibility And Common Users

We have previously discussed how accessibility provides an inclusive user experience for differently abled users. Let us now look at how web app accessibility can elevate the user experience of the general public. Integrating these techniques will create a user-friendly interface. With clear and intuitive navigation, advanced search options, and AI-driven interactions, users will quickly reach their desired products and services. Further, the ability to access a web app from different devices, screen sizes, and platforms yet gain a consistent user experience makes an app more accessible. These are only a few ways a custom web application developer can leverage to enhance accessibility.

But to make the app truly diverse and inclusive, app developers must also integrate localization and globalization techniques. Making the app multilingual will further increase its accessibility by encouraging people not fluent in English to try out the web application.

Reasons For Implementing Web Application Accessibility

Web app accessibility is mandatory because of three essential reasons. All the three benefit businesses in different ways. We must understand their impact to maximize their benefits. They include:

Legal requirement

Today, accessibility is not only a functional requirement. The WCAG developed by the universally recognized W3G makes accessibility a legislative responsibility. Since these guidelines are considered the Gold standard for web application development, many countries have included their provisions in their legislation. Hence, web application accessibility is a legal requirement in many important countries like the USA. Web application development service providers must make accessible web applications or face legal complications. Such is the importance of web application accessibility.

Reputation gain

Statistics show that businesses with accessible web applications find greater acceptability among users. It also helps enhance business reputation because users appreciate their commitment to their social responsibility. It helps strengthen business credibility by showing that they care for all users equally.

New customer acquisition

Poor web accessibility is an important cause of the growing mistrust among users with impairments or disabilities. Hence, most businesses lose out on one segment of users. But custom web application developers can understand their pain points and integrate proper web accessibility techniques to address them. In the process, their clients gain new customers.

Key Techniques For Ensuring Web Application Accessibility

Let us now explore some techniques that web app developers can leverage to develop website applications that are accessible, inclusive, and diverse. Most of these are recommended in the WCAG guidelines for accessibility. We have already mentioned some of them briefly above. But we will go into more details here.

Offering text alternatives

Your web app combines textual and non-textual elements. Some examples of non-textual elements include videos, audio, and images. You must integrate a text alternative for each. Leveraging the Image alt Text functionality is one way to do it. Providing text alternatives for non-textual content helps differently abled users to understand them better. You must also include text alternatives even for graphs and tables present on the web app. This will allow assistive technologies to interpret them better.

Other options to consume time-based media

Many audio and media elements come with a preset time limit. Here the timing of experience is decided by the owner of the media. You must provide transcripts or captions to enable differently abled users to access such media.

Making content easy to fathom

Customized Web Application developers must integrate appropriate color contrasts. This will enable users with such impairments like color blindness to read and interpret content and information correctly. Allowing users the flexibility to toggle between color contrasts is one of the best techniques to leverage.

Keyboard navigability

This technique is essential for users who are unable to use the mouse or touchpad. Enabling access to all web app functionalities and features using the keyboard will help such users.

Providing ample time to engage

Apply a reasonable time constraint for time-based media. You should also allow users the flexibility to extend/delete the time limit set. This is also applicable to drop-down menus. Setting up a time delay before the menu disappears completely after the user disengages with it is an excellent web application accessibility technique.

Improved navigation abilities

Leveraging breadcrumb navigation will allow users to understand where they are. Further improve web app navigation by integrating clear page titles, keyboard focus indicators, meaningful links, and appropriate headings. This will allow users to understand where they are and which elements are clickable.

Integrating readable text

Consider the entire user segment when drafting content. It must be comprehensible even to users who do not have English as their native language. Avoiding highly technical jargon and slang is good practice. Allowing users to choose the font size based on their requirements is another good practice. Providing proper clarity on the error messages is also very important. It helps clear confusion and provides users with clarity on what their next steps must be.

Conclusion

A custom web application developer must integrate the above options for web application accessibility options. This will provide an inclusive user experience. Before initiating the web app development, they must extensively understand how these techniques must be integrated to enhance user engagement and experience.

Pratip Biswas
Pratip Biswas, is the Founder and CEO of Unified Infotech, a New York based tech-company which has been featured in Deloitte Fast 500| Fastest growing tech companies in 2018. His company is working with Enterprises, SMB’s and Start-ups to improve their efficiency through Digital Adoption and help them discover new possibilities through constant innovations.

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