Accessibility Testing Tips to Give Site Visitors a Better Experience

Your website is where everything happens, and many of your customers, unbeknownst to you, may have a disability. Like all customers, they also need to use your website to accomplish tasks, whether that is refilling a prescription, applying for a job, opening a checking account, or placing an order for groceries.

In the United States alone, one in five people has a disability and more than 25 million have vision loss. Ensuring that your website is accessible to people of all abilities is crucial now more than ever — not only because being compliant with widely accepted WCAG standards prevents litigation, but also because your customers and users deserve the best experience possible.

Here are six accessibility user experience (UX) testing tips to deliver a better website experience:

1. RECRUIT REAL USERS FOR UX TESTING

Establish a group of users from the disabled community to participate in user testing on your website. Try to recruit people who are familiar with a site or product/service like yours and are everyday users of assistive technologies. Select a set of regular user tasks that you want to confirm that they can use and give you feedback on. It is easier to allow the users to work with their usual assistive technology set up at home or work and provide feedback.

UsableNet can help setup and create user testing on your site and UsableNet AQAcan be used to set up user testing tasks and provides a fully accessible way for assistive users to give feedback to your and your team.

2. TEST ACROSS A WIDE VARIETY OF DISABILITIES

Be sure to complete UX testing across disabilities, including users from each main disability group. How someone who cannot move their arms uses your website will be different from how someone who can’t see well or has difficulty hearing interacts with it. It’s important to have a broad understanding of user experiences so that your developers and designers can understand the different ways people use your website and how they can create better, more accessible experiences.

3. TEST FOR USABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY

For UX testing, it’s important to understand the difference between usability and accessibility and why you should be looking at both.

  • Usability: How easy are things to use. Usability focuses on memorability, efficiency, errors, learnability, and satisfaction — which are also known as MEELS criteria. Usability testing should include all types of expected users such as ones from the disability community.
  • Accessibility: How well has your website been coded to support people using Assistive Technology? Testing for accessibility is less about individual users and more about accessibility guidelines such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act for Government and Education or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 for commercial companies.

Whereas a usability test might focus on how easy a user can move around a site based on a new navigation menu, an accessibility test would assess whether the code used in the menu is compatible with assistive technology such as a screen reader.

4. KEEP TESTING SIMPLE AND FOCUSED

Although it might be tempting to task your testers with reviewing your entire site, try to focus on a few key areas. For example, an e-commerce site might focus on the checkout process for shoppers who use screen-reading software, and a DIY website might ask participants with hearing loss to evaluate the accessibility of specific pages with tutorial animations and videos.

Also, make sure the scope has a time limit, so testers don’t get tired or frustrated. If you overwhelm your testers with too much information or too many tasks, there is a chance that your UX testing results will be skewed toward the negative.

5. LISTEN TO YOUR TESTERS

Throughout the UX testing process, be sure to provide testers a way to provide honest and direct feedback. Also, make sure you have an efficient way to collect that feedback and aggregate the feedback to provide back to your teams. If participants have specific ideas for how you improve your website’s accessibility, take their opinions and ideas seriously. It’s also important to remind your participants that there is no such thing as failing when it comes to UX testing. In fact, if they can’t complete the tasks you’ve assigned, there is a good chance that something within your site isn’t working — not that the participant is deficient.

6. KEEP IT FUN!

Lastly, it’s easy for UX testing to be frustrating or overwhelming, so be sure to keep the process fun and casual. When presenting your participants with tasks, use real-world situations and storytelling to make the experience more fun, realistic, and less like a test that needs to be passed. For example, if your participant is visually impaired and you want to test the checkout process, craft a story such as, “Your friend’s birthday is coming up, and you want to use a discount code to order her flowers and have them delivered tomorrow.” Through storytelling and scenarios, you will enable your participants to visualize and relate to the scenarios at hand for an honest test that is as close to real life as possible.

Involving the disabled community will allow you to capture real examples of how users engage with your site and making this a part of your overall process will ensure ongoing accessibility and usability for this important group of users. If you’re ready to implement UX testing on your website, contact us for a free consultation with a UX expert.

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Originally posted here on UsableNet.com. Follow us on Twitter.