When people talk about both usability and accessibility, it is often to point out how they differ. Accessibility often gets pigeon-holed as simply making sure there are no barriers to access for screen readers or other assistive technology, without regard to usability, while usability usually targets everyone who uses a site or product, without considering people who have disabilities. In fact, the concept of usability often seems to exclude people with disabilities, as though just access is all they are entitled to. What about creating a good user experience for people with disabilities—going beyond making a Web site merely accessible to make it truly usable for them?
In the spirit of the column Ask UXmatters, I spoke to a number of leading advocates for accessibility to find out what they think about usable accessibility. Read More
Over the past year or so, Luke Wroblewski has been talking about “mobile first” —that is, designing for mobile before designing a Web application for a desktop browser. It’s an intriguing idea. The motivation that drives designing for mobile first is the explosion in the numbers of mobile devices and mobile users, as well as the competitive issues this has created. But the key benefit for users is simple, focused products, because the constraints of small screens force you to prioritize features and create “an experience focused on the key tasks users want to accomplish.” Focusing an application’s user experience on users’ key tasks is good advice for design on any platform. It’s also good advice for usable accessibility.
Pondering this made me wonder: what if design projects started by thinking about accessibility first? I don’t mean the basics like ALT text for graphics, following coding standards, and creating correctly structured information hierarchies. Building in accessibility at the code level is the only way to remove many of the barriers people with disabilities experience. But if our design thinking started with the idea of making a product that focuses on key tasks and is flexible, would that create a better user experience for everyone? Read More
Stories are hot. And why not? We all know how to tell a story. Stories are a lot more interesting than most other ways of sharing information. And they work. Stories are a great way to introduce a concept in an imaginative way or sell an idea to your team or management.
Storytelling fits into the design process in many places. You probably know that collecting stories is key to user research and ensuring your UX designs tell a clear story makes the resulting user experiences better. But in this column, we’ll focus on that big moment when you have something to share and want everyone on your team to pay attention.
Here’s an example of a case where a story is worth a thousand arguments. All of us have likely been there:
You’ve been testing some concepts for a new product design. Your team is excited about the ideas. Unfortunately, your users aren’t. When you take this disappointing news to your team, your report is met with skepticism. They might say, “You must have found the only people on the planet who don’t love this idea.” Or perhaps, “Your tasks must have been wrong.” Or, “You’ve just misunderstood them.” You know the design concepts won’t work as they are, but you just can’t convince the team. Read More