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How To Create An Accessible Online Platform & UX

Creating an accessible online platform is a vital step towards inclusion and diversity. Let us guide you through the process with our expert tips.

As a business, being accessible online is vital to enable all customers to buy your products and use your services, and to do so at a time that suits them and encourages repeat site visits – but with 20% of the world’s population needing assistive technology, how can you create a fully accessible online platform and UX?

Being fully accessible means that everyone can use the technology and online platform easily because the design is user-friendly, and the content is straightforward and easy to digest. 

However, creating an accessible platform is easier said than done for many companies, and, at the moment, a section of society is being neglected by the digital world and left out in the cold when it comes to accessing the internet. Incredibly, one-fifth of the global population is missing out because of difficulties to read the content, engaging with the UX, or fully comprehending the information on the screen. 

Why Does Online Accessibility Matter?

If a whole section of society struggles to access your online platform, they will simply look elsewhere and the impact on your business when this happens is huge. Your business needs to be online and to be available to those customers who want to access your products and services, and if it’s not then your business will suffer as a result – your brand will lose loyalty from potential customers who will feel alienated and not listened to because they can’t use your digital platform. 

We know that the demand to access the online world is there, with 93% of UK users using online banking in 2022 – nearly a 50% increase since 2012. We also know that the World Health Organization estimates that 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment, and 1.5 billion people have a hearing loss impairment. This is vital information for developers as they need to ensure that accessibility is at the heart of all they do and at the top of their priority list – otherwise, they might create the most fantastic digital products that a large section of the global population can’t use or enjoy. 

What Should You Consider When Creating An Online Platform?

Fundamentally, you should consider your target audience and their needs – you should always put people at the core of what you are doing when creating digital products to achieve an accessible and appealing platform for all. 

Be Diverse 

When shaping your team, ensure you achieve diversity. The more diverse your team and its outlook, the easier it will be for you to create online platforms with the widest possible audience appeal. 

People offer insight into your business and its products or services by sharing their experiences of when and why they’ve struggled to access technology online in the past. Being aware of potential design blocks for people with a sight or hearing impairment enables you to design a platform that can be used by everyone regardless of impairments.

Including video content is a good way of enhancing the UX for your audience and giving them a reason to visit again. However, make sure you include subtitles for all audio content, so you don’t exclude people with hearing difficulties. 

Be Accessible  

Every aspect of the design must be approached through the eye of accessibility – consider what colors work best, even for those who are color blind or short- or long-sighted, as well as which fonts, backgrounds, and layouts achieve the highest contrast and therefore are the clearest to read online.  

Similarly, the content needs to be straightforward, relatable, and easy to understand. Tell the message you want to convey in a way that everyone can understand – there is no need to be ‘clever’ or complicate the wording, as this will only alienate some users. This also applies to the content of your coding – use a clear structure to ensure that screen readers can understand the content and play it back in a meaningful order and context for those who are visually impaired. By using simple language and clean coding, people will warm to the site or app and are more likely to interact with the platform and want to return to it again. 

Look for ways to break through to new levels of accessibility, such as introducing BSL (British Sign Language) prompts for those who have hearing difficulties, or even look into the use of emojis. ​​Emojis have different meanings depending on the context in which we use them and screen readers may misinterpret what we’re trying to say so it’s important to be aware of their written meanings

Be Well Researched

Find out who the market leaders are when it comes to accessibility standards and learn from them. There are some great companies like HMRC and Google who get it right, creating accessible platforms and content – consider what they do and how they incorporate features into their digital technology that improves accessibility. 

By understanding what makes an accessible platform and provides customers with a feel-good UX, you can include these elements into the design of your own digital products. 

Be Willing To Test, Test, Test

The more people who test a new product, the greater chance of success that product has – by testing repeatedly and by having different individuals with varying needs and expectations do the testing, you will highlight potential barriers, issues, and quirks that can be changed and enhanced before product launch.

It is only when a product is tested, that its strengths and weaknesses are revealed. You should keep testing an online platform until you know its accessibility standard is high. 

By making accessibility the main criterion in the creation of your next online platform, you will enable customers to access and experience all your business has to offer. This benefits both your company and customers alike and enables you to reach a far wider audience in the process. 

It is the greatest investment you can make to futureproof your business – achieving online accessibility will enhance the UX for your customers and generate brand loyalty to boost business longevity.

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Jordan Richards, Founder and CEO of RCCO

Jordan was one of the youngest Google apprentices, starting at just 18 and staying on for three years to become a creative lead. He has since become the founder of the digital design agency RCCO, a 20-person team working with tech giants and exciting start-ups with investment. He is also co-founder of WILD, a video production studio working with PureGym and Revolut, and owner of FounderSphere, a community for young entrepreneurs.

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