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Column: Universal Usability

UXmatters has published 8 editions of the column Universal Usability.

Top 3 Trending Universal Usability Columns

  1. Usable Accessibility: Making Web Sites Work Well for People with Disabilities

    Universal Usability

    Putting people at the center of design

    A column by Whitney Quesenbery
    February 23, 2009

    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

  2. More Alike Than We Think

    Universal Usability

    Putting people at the center of design

    A column by Whitney Quesenbery
    March 20, 2006

    What happens when a site has to appeal to a wide range of people? How do you sort out their different usability requirements? Will they conflict, and if so, how do you prioritize them?

    Working on a new Web site to provide information about admission to The Open University (OU) in the UK, Ian Roddis, who is in charge of the OU Web strategy, issued a challenge: How can we make sure that the site will provide the right information in a format that will be useful and usable?

    Earlier user research and usability tests that Caroline Jarrett and I had done had shown that users were having trouble learning about the OU’s special form of distance education on the existing site. To solve this problem, we wanted to make recommendations for the style and format of the information as part of our design. Read More

  3. Accessibility First—for a Better User Experience for All

    Universal Usability

    Putting people at the center of design

    A column by Whitney Quesenbery
    December 20, 2010

    Over the past year or so, Luke Wroblewski has been talking about “mobile first” [1]—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

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