The digital economy is simply massive. It contributes to more than 15% of the global GDP, growing over 200% faster than the physical world GDP in the last ten years. The point is people of all abilities use websites, digital content, and digital devices to run their lives. They also have a lot of companies to choose from, and applying universal design principles is one essential way to gain their loyalty. 

Universal design simplifies every touchpoint of your brand for all customers, including web UX that meets their individual needs. This blog provides universal design examples that can make your site more accessible to everyone, which should be a guiding principle for any company.

In that spirit, this next section explains how universal design intersects with universal accessibility for people with disabilities. 

Universal Design Meets Digital Accessibility

Universal design and digital accessibility intersect, but they have one key difference: Accessible design supports people with disabilities, while universal design intends to serve everyone. That said, a universal design will make your website more accessible to all end users, including those with disabilities, and that’s how these two principles intersect. 

Speaking of principles, it’s time to learn about the seven main principles of universal design. 

The 7 Universal Design Principles

These seven guiding principles sum up the meaning of universal design

1. UX Equitability

Everyone should experience your website UX the same way. To ensure this equitable experience, make your site accessible to people who use assistive technology like screen readers and smart contrast.

2. UX Versatility

Meet the needs of each user with features like left and right-handed UI.

3. UX Simplicity & Ease of Use

Any user, regardless of ability, should easily understand and navigate your site. Therefore, always default to the most straightforward content and user path. 

4. Perceivable Information

Clear, concise communication is essential for information accessibility. For instance, all videos need closed captioning and audio descriptions.

5. Support for User Errors

Guide users away from errors or accidental steps with features like session timeout reminders. 

6. Minimal End User Effort

Ensure your digital environments provide a sense of comfort to all users.  One example is keyboard shortcuts that enable people to navigate sites with minimum effort. 

7. Dimensions and Space for Approach and Use

Offer ample dimensions and space for people of all sizes, postures, and mobility levels to approach, reach, manipulate, and utilize. Examples include adjustable desks in the physical world and responsive web design for viewing content on mobile devices.  

So, how do you apply what you just learned? Refer to the proven tips below for answers. 

5 Tips For Applying Universal Web Design 

1. Use (HTML) and ARIA attributes in the appropriate ways. 

2. Provide strong color contrast to maximize readability for people with color blindness. 

3. Provide ALT text for every image. 

4. Produce site content with appropriate formatting, headings, fonts, and communication hierarchy.

5. Offer closed captioning and video descriptions to accommodate people who are deaf or those with related hearing conditions. 

How Universal Accessibility Helps You Legally 

Universal accessibility encompasses digital accessibility, which helps you conform to the ADA and WCAG, the ultimate benchmark for accessibility compliance. And complying with these guidelines can also help mitigate future legal complications, the need for which has become increasingly urgent.  

For example, did you know plaintiffs sued over 4,000 organizations for non-compliance in 2022 alone? Moreover, courts don’t make exceptions for smaller companies just because they’re understaffed or have minimal budgets. Instead, these lawsuits impact all-sized businesses, from startups to globally recognized companies. 

So, the faster you comply, the better your chances of avoiding costly legal penalties. Fortunately, the information in this blog can enhance your accessibility and legal protection.  

Conclusion: Universal Principles are the Driving Force

Whether you’re just starting on a new website or exploring a design refresh, we hope you’ll apply the universal design principles and use our helpful tips to make your website accessible. By making your website accessible to people of all abilities, you can reach broader audiences and better serve every customer. 

Even better, you’ll promote a more equitable world for all people, which is what the UserWay mission is about. 

UserWay: the All-In-One Accessibility Provider

UserWay’s leading AI-powered solutions empower companies to achieve digital accessibility, which includes universal design principles. Learn how UserWay’s complete framework of accessibility products and services helps you comply with the ADA, WCAG, and all other critical laws. Even more crucial, UserWay can ensure your website is inclusive of every user, especially those with various disabilities. 

Get started with an accessibility expert today. 

Common FAQs

What’s the Definition of Universal Design?

Universal design creates physical and digital assets accessible to people of all ability levels.

What are Some Essential Elements of Universal Design?

  • Serve individual preferences and ability levels 
  • Communicate relevant info simply and effectively 
  • Ensure all spaces are approachable and reachable for all body types and postures.

Why is Universal Design beneficial to Everyone?

It minimizes reliance on assistive technology, which only increases compatibility with assistive technology. That’s because both principles make engaging with and using relevant online information more manageable for all people.