Why should we consider UX through the prism of Web Accessibility?
Why is the term UX also popular today?
“Design is a funny word. Some people think that “design” means “what an object looks like”. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how that object works. “.
Everyone, or almost everyone, knows this quote from Steve Job now, illustrating, in his own way, the credibility gradually gained by industrial designers. The credit enjoyed by the Jonathan Ive and Laurens Van Den Acker is the fruit of a long work that began at the end of the 19th century. In the web industry, creatives have not yet acquired such a notoriety. This is a condescending and unfair statement because all other trades also function in this way (except perhaps the accountants). The acronym UX (User Experience) has become a popular term in a few years. This popularity shows that the ergonomics of the interfaces has become a center of interest for many designers, and I think we can rejoice, even if this trend consists mainly of giving credit to the profession of graphic designer. This phenomenon should however challenge us. A handful of celebrities like Jakob Nielsen and Jeffrey Zeldman for example, has largely contributed to popularize the discipline and develop kind of school of thought. But in fact, there is no international and incontestable UX repository to rely on. Today the field of exploration of this discipline is undoubtedly still too vast to be theorized. There is, however, an underestimated discipline. It is the only one that is the object of an international frame of reference framed by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) teams. This is Web Accessibility.
What is Web Accessibility and what are its virtues?
According to Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Internet and director of W3C, it is
“putting the Web and its services at the disposal of all individuals, regardless of their hardware or software, their network infrastructure, their mother tongue , their culture, their geographical location, or their physical or mental abilities. “.
Of course (perhaps I should write unfortunately), I am not naive and I know that the inclusive dimension advocated by Sir Berners-Lee is not unanimous. Reluctantly, let’s put it aside for the time being. Beyond this humanistic dimension, as the WAI (World Accessibility Initiative) rightly explains,
“following these recommendations will also make web content often easier to use for users in general.”
Designing in an accessible setting means providing everyone with the benefit of improvements developed for people with disabilities:
“blind and partially sighted people, deaf and hard of hearing people, people with learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, motor limitations, speech limitations, photosensitivity and people with a combination of these functional limitations. “.
The history of the TV remote control often serves as a metaphor to illustrate this added value. The first TV remote would have been designed for people with reduced mobility before it became a success, and to be quite honest I could never verify the accuracy of this story. That is not what matters to me here, because even if it is a legend, I think it speaks to all of us. I also like to illustrate the virtues of Web Accessibility through a second example. Ensuring that the contrast level of a CTA (Call-To-Action) is high enough is not just a philanthropic act. It is also ensure that 10% of prospects are able to make a purchase act.
Is Accessibility a component of UX?
Specifically, to help us produce accessible content, W3C publishes a wide range of recommendations called WCAG: “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines”. For each recommendation, it also provides guidance on how to successfully meet these guidelines. This combination of recommendations and test guidelines constitutes a repository so far unique in the history of the web and the only one that combines credibility and international dimension. That’s why we can consider these media as a formidable UX toolkit. In practice, WAI offers us a human-centered, multidisciplinary framework that allows us to define, research, ideate, prototype, select, implement and learn. It should talk to a lot of us.
The French government has recently tightened its legislation to force organizations to become involved in the field of digital accessibility. Other countries should follow suit. We may not agree with the coercive dimension of this policy. It adds, however, to the arguments set out above. This is why today it seems interesting to look at the concrete framework offered by Web Accessibility when it comes to initiating an UX strategy including in an ecommerce environment.
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