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FREE Guide to Website Design

Accessibility and Usability

AccessibilityAccessibility and Usability are areas of Website design which are extremely important yet often overlooked.

Accessibility is a design approach that aims to ensure that the content and features of your website, reaches the widest audience possible.  Usability ensures Website users can find what they're looking for quickly and efficiently.

With the internet rapidly growing in popularity and consequently the number of people using it, the fact that a Website looks good is no longer an acceptable demonstration of a well designed Website.

Accessibility

These days it is a legal requirement that certain types of Websites are accessible to all who have access to the Internet. The people who are most affected by Websites that are poorly designed are those who have difficulty in seeing or hearing. Accessibility also relates to users who may not be physically disabled, but due to their environment or equipment, are unable to access the Internet and read Web pages in the same way that regular users do. A key factor of Accessibility is building Web pages that are viewable in all types of browser and all version of the same type of browser. This technique is referred to as cross-browser compatibility.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), have developed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (1999) for designing Web pages that are accessible by the types of user previously mentioned. For more information on how you can make your Website more accessible, visit the Web Accessibility Initiative Website.

In addition to complying with the law, addressing accessible can also improve the functionality of your Website -- which in turn will reflect positively on your business.

Usability

Closely related to Accessibility is a field of Website design called Usability.  Some experts in Web design claim that you cannot have one without the other; that Accessibility and Usability are in fact two sides of the same coin.  For a Website to be truly accessible, it must also be designed to comply with the rules of Usability.

Usability refers to how well users can learn and use a product to achieve their goals and how satisfied they are with the process they had to use to reach their goal.  In this case though we are talking about Website usability which refers to making your Website in such a way that its users can find what they're looking for or do what they came to do; quickly and efficiently.

Website Usability entails ensuring your Website is simple to navigate around, that its pages download quickly in browsers and its information is easy to retrieve.

Read more about Usability.

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