As a UI designer, it is your responsibility to not only create visually appealing designs, but also to ensure that your creations are accessible to a diverse range of users.
This is especially important when it comes to accommodating individuals with visual impairments. By following a few simple guidelines, you can create user interfaces that are not only pleasing to the eye, but also inclusive and user-friendly for all. In this article, we will explore the various strategies you can use to ensure that your designs are visually accessible and, in doing so, create an optimal user experience. So don't be daunted, let's get started on raising the bar for UI design for everyone!
Use High Contrast Colours
One of the key ways to ensure the visual accessibility of your UI design is through the use of high contrast colour schemes. These vibrant and eye-catching combinations can make it significantly easier for individuals with visual impairments to read and interact with your UI elements. It's important to note that not all contrasts are created equal – be sure to check the contrast ratios of your colour choices to ensure that they meet the necessary standards for accessibility. Additionally, be mindful of the width of your font – wider fonts can also improve legibility for users with visual impairments. With a little bit of care and attention to detail, you can create a UI design that is both visually striking and accessible to all.
Font Size Matters
Another way to ensure the visual accessibility of your UI design is through the use of appropriately sized fonts. According to both the WCAG guidelines and Material Design, the smallest text in your design should be at least 16pt to ensure legibility for users with visual impairments. It's important to remember that your design should look good even when viewed at 200% zoom, so don't go wild with enormous fonts. That being said, don't be afraid to experiment with larger font sizes – they can not only improve legibility for users with visual impairments, but also add a touch of visual interest to your design. So go ahead and give your font sizes a boost – your visually impaired users (and your design) will thank you for it.
Descriptive Alt Text Makes Everything Better
Alt text, or alternative text, is a crucial aspect of ensuring the visual accessibility of your UI design. By providing a short description of an image, you can help individuals with visual impairments understand the content of the image even if they are unable to see it. However, it's important to make sure that your alt text is effective in conveying the content and purpose of the image. When creating alt descriptions, avoid using unnecessary filler phrases like "image of" or "picture of". Make sure to thoroughly test your alt text to ensure that it is accurately displaying and communicating the content of the image. With a little bit of care and attention to detail, you can create alt text that is both effective and user-friendly for all users.
Give Your Headings And Landmarks Some Extra Love
The proper use of headings and landmarks can greatly enhance the navigational accessibility of your UI design for individuals with visual impairments. By implementing a clear and logical header structure, you can help users understand the content architecture of your website or application. Additionally, by using descriptive link names and avoiding the use of empty links, you can make it easier for users to understand the purpose of each link and navigate to the content they are interested in.
It's crucial to make sure that all important information is encoded in HTML, so users can use screen readers to understand the layout and structure of your design. Keep in mind that utilising headings and landmarks, along with appropriate and descriptive link names, can make a huge difference in the navigational experience for visually impaired users. So go ahead and give your headings and landmarks some extra love - your users will appreciate it.
Testing Is Key
One of the most critical aspects of ensuring the visual accessibility of your UI design is to test it with people who have visual impairments. This allows you to get feedback on how well your design accommodates their needs and make any necessary adjustments. Testing with real users with visual impairments can help identify any issues that may not have been apparent during the design process, and can ensure that your design is truly accessible.
When testing with users with visual impairments, consider enlisting a diverse group of individuals with different types of visual impairments, such as those with colour blindness, low vision, or total blindness to get a better understanding of the different needs and challenges of users. This will also give you a more comprehensive understanding of the user experience across different scenarios and help you to create a more inclusive design. Remember, accessibility is not only about compliance, it’s about truly understanding the user needs and testing is an essential step to reach that understanding.
If you’re looking for experts in accessible design - contact our team and let’s make sure everyone can appreciate your website or app, even with visual impairments!