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Web design has become a highly sought-after and lucrative career choice, merging technical prowess with boundless creativity. Yet, the demands placed upon web designers has grown exponentially. With a staggering 95% of websites falling short in accessibility for people with disabilities, embracing The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 & 2.1) has become the golden ticket to web design success.
If you’re unfamiliar with WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1, these are principles that ensure websites and applications are usable by a wide range of users, including users with disabilities. WCAG promotes inclusive design practices, addressing accessibility challenges and delivering meaningful user experiences.
With approximately 1 in 4 people in the United States having a disability, a significant portion of the population faces barriers when accessing digital content. This exclusion denies them the benefits and opportunities offered by the digital world. This is where WCAG comes into play.
Let’s take a look at how web designers can embrace WCAG to unlock unexpected levels of creativity and innovation.
WCAG Unwrapped: Accessibility Expertise for Web Designers
The level of understanding of WCAG among web designers can vary. Some web designers have a strong understanding of WCAG and actively incorporate its principles into their design process. They stay updated with the latest guidelines, techniques, and best practices to ensure their designs are accessible to a wide range of users.
It’s also important to recognize that not all web designers may have an in-depth understanding of WCAG. Accessibility may not have been a focal point in their training or prior experiences, and they may lack awareness of the specific guidelines and techniques that make a website accessible.
By becoming familiar with WCAG, web designers will feel more confident to push the boundaries of creative design without sacrificing aesthetics or functionality.
A 7-Point WCAG Checklist to Supercharge Web Accessibility
For web designers, accessibility needs to meet innovation. Your role is to design websites that captivate and include all users. That’s why we’ve crafted a dynamic 7-point checklist tailored specifically for you—the accessibility-minded, visionary web designer:
- Bring your visuals to life with descriptive alternative text for images, videos, and audio.
- Amp up the contrast between foreground and background elements, making them pop like superheroes in action.
- Assemble a league of clear and consistent headings to guide users through your content with ease.
- Equip your multimedia content with powerful captions and transcripts to ensure everyone can access the information.
- Empower users to navigate your website using their keyboard alone, like a keyboard warrior saving the day.
- Transform your website into a playground of accessibility, ensuring all functionality is accessible via keyboard input.
- Harness the power of touch and gestures, enabling users to effortlessly interact with your site on their mobile devices.
- Implement smooth and seamless scrolling and navigation, taking users on a smooth journey through your content.
- Give users the gift of time, allowing them to read and interact with your content at their own pace.
- Use concise, easily comprehensible language, devoid of jargon.
- Organize your content in a logical and hierarchical manner, leading users through a clear adventure they can easily follow.
- Provide users with easy to fill forms, guiding them to success with clarity and precision.
- Offer clear instructions and tooltips, helping users conquer complex interactions – with confidence.
- Let users control animations, avoiding overwhelming or distracting motion effects.
- Ensure your website supports the latest web browsers and assistive technologies.
- Validate your code to eliminate vulnerabilities and ensure your website remains unbreakable.
- Harness the power of responsive design, allowing your website to adapt seamlessly to different devices and screen sizes.
- Continuously test and optimize your accessibility features, unleashing your full potential to create a digital experience that stands the test of time.
6 Ways Web Designers Can Master Accessibility
A great starting place to learn more about the ‘gold standard for web accessibility’ is the official WCAG documentation itself. See the key WCAG Success Criteria for Designers for specific insights for web designers.
Let’s look at six more ways web designers can learn more about WCAG accessibility standards:
Invest in A11Y’s Accessible Design Course
“Accessible Design: The Basics” is a program designed to demystify the world of accessibility. Specifically tailored for web designers, this course is led by industry experts, offering practical techniques to ensure websites are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. Learn how to implement WCAG guidelines, optimize navigation for screen readers, create accessible forms, and more.
Speak to Accessibility Experts
Consider talking to accessibility experts who are well-versed in guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Accessibility experts understand that accessibility and creativity can coexist harmoniously, and can provide support with finding innovative solutions to accessible design. They should also be knowledgeable about the nuances, best practices, and evolving standards of digital accessibility.
Find Inspiration from Accessible Website Designs
When creating an accessible website, it’s essential to consider various impairments such as visual, auditory, motor, cognitive, and speech limitations. HubSpot’s article features a valuable list of accessible websites that can serve as inspiration for design work. These websites demonstrate successful implementations of accessibility features, showcasing how inclusive design can enhance the user experience for all individuals.
Listen to Web Accessibility Podcasts
Listening to web accessibility podcasts can be incredibly beneficial for web designers. Web accessibility podcasts are a valuable resource for web designers, providing numerous benefits to enhance their skills and knowledge in this evolving field. By tuning into these podcasts, web designers can stay up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques, ensuring their designs align with current accessibility standards. These podcasts often feature real-world case studies, providing valuable examples and strategies to address common accessibility challenges.
Participate in Accessibility Events
Keep an eye out for conferences, seminars, and events focusing on accessibility. Attend accessibility-related meet-ups to network with industry experts and stay updated on the latest developments. These opportunities can help web designers stay at the forefront of industry trends and deepen expertise in building creative, accessible digital experiences.
Practice Practice Practice
It isn’t enough to simply read about accessibility guidelines and techniques; they must be put into practice. It must also become a way of thinking. Building accessibility into web design is vital and web designers have an array of techniques and strategies at their disposal to ensure that websites are accessible to all users. Experiment with accessibility web design techniques to meet WCAG requirements while maintaining that creative edge.
UserWay: Promoting Accessibility in Design
UserWay’s AI-powered solution is the secret sauce to creating accessible, WCAG-driven websites. Our accessibility solution aligns your web design with the latest version of WCAG, making it a powerful compass for building aesthetically pleasing and inclusive websites for everyone.
Have questions? Talk to one of our accessibility experts today.
Why is accessible design important for web designers?
Accessible design promotes inclusivity by removing barriers and providing equal access to information and services. It allows people of all abilities to easily navigate, interact, and engage with digital content, empowering them to participate fully in the online world.
Will learning about WCAG help me in my web design career?
Absolutely! As digital accessibility becomes increasingly important, businesses and organizations are on the hunt for web designers who have expertise in creating accessible websites. By demonstrating your knowledge and ability to design with accessibility in mind, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and position yourself as an asset in the industry.
Where do I incorporate WCAG principles in design?
Accessibility shouldn’t be an add-on or separate process, but an essential part of web design. By incorporating accessibility from the start of the design process, you not only save valuable time and resources, you bypass costly retrofits down the line.