UI/UX design from an accessibility perspective is critically important for targeting a broader segment of audience. Building a mobile app for both normal users and gifted users not only tends to keep everybody happy, but also builds your credibility as a universal app. Accessibility design being a broader concept, you need to understand the basics, and how to go about implementing it in your app.
Why you need an ‘accessible’ UI/UX Design?
When your app is accessible by physically disabled people with ease, you have served your purpose in delivering the right design. Imagine, your app operated with ease by people who cannot see, convey vibrations to people who cannot hear, can be operated with sensors for people who do not have hands, or more. When your app is successful in satisfying this segment of users, you are surely going to grab the attention of normal users.
There is just one core principle behind all this. Customize user interface in a way so that the user experience tends to be equal for all, allowing every single user to decide upon the preferences, and enjoy the privileges accordingly. Remember, this is a serious business, since by doing this you are not only keeping everybody happy, but also Google as well.
How do you implement a design like this?
It is just about the same as you emphasize on building an app of your own. However, think as if you are only building for such users. Design your apps keeping people in mind suffering from motor impairments, hearing impairments, blindness, low vision, or others. Ensure that your apps can interact with people with physical disabilities, and perceive what they really want.
#1. Deliver simplistic usability and a clear purpose
Users should find great ease in navigating within your app, with everything differentiated like distinct calls to actions, and layouts that are absolutely clear. Adding up a new UI element will only make things complicated than ever. Have elements with clear visible cues, use sufficient contrast between components, define clear cut sizes, and more importantly have a refined hierarchy.
A robust design reinforces confidence within users. This can be a boon for all. Keep your users always informed regarding where they are in the app right now, and what will happen if they make a transition to other screens. Place apt labels for controls like buttons, so that users know the purpose right from the small text present. Differentiate important elements, components, and tasks from unimportant ones through animation, text, shape, color, etc.
#3. Allow for app customization
Different users have different expectations regarding learning, audio, video, or other visibility issues. You need to allow room for customizing the app as per the user needs or requirements. Let users adjust things as per their convenience such as touch screen gestures, contrast, color scheme, and magnification.
#4. Make use of familiar metaphors and visual cues
Today, most icons have universal visual metaphors. Such as a settings icon depicted by machines, search icon depicted by magnifying lens, disk icon referring to save, trash icon referring to delete, and so on. In this case, creativity is something not to be experimented with. Creativity is not at all bad. However, reinventing the wheel in case of iconography or naming convention hampers the user friendliness.
#5. Be wise in choosing a right color scheme
Remember, you are catering to both sets of users. For normal users, any color combinations could work. However, for people with gifted abilities, certain colors can disturb them mentally. People who are color blind are sure to have a tough time, when there are too many colors used. Hence, choose a universal color scheme, which appeals the most to the eyes, and is soothing enough. Ideally, make use of only 2-3 colors, and try to use ones that are cool natured.
#6. Text should appear clean with the contrasting background
Miniature text size is stressful to people with visual challenges. This makes things unclear and not legible to read. Have an apt text size so that a user can read things clearly without getting strained. Additionally, let the app zoom in and out aptly whenever required.
Do have a contrasting background in place, so that a user can easily distinguish between the background, and text in the foreground. This turns out wonderful to users having learning difficulties, or with special needs.
#7. Differentiate between active and inactive state
This is another important parameter to look at. You need to have few elements active during certain sessions and others inactive at the same time. This provides room for users to understand which options to choose from. If everything is active or inactive, people might click on wrong options, leading to dead states or error pages. Such a thing can appear to be a disaster for an app, since people do not know the best option to opt for, or probably not able to access any option for that matter.
#8. Color is just not everything
Colorblindness is a common phenomenon taking place in an individual, which is found to be 1 among 12 men, and 1 among 200 women. Colors are not the only way to convey information, although it has a huge impact overall. Color used alone for making an impact can be absolutely harmful for an app, especially for people who are not able to differentiate between colors.
There are many forms of color blindness, leaving people suffer from a great deal of confusion between certain set of colors. Henceforth it is important to have visual cues accompanying these colors. Henceforth, give importance to other parameters, rather than trying out a range of color combinations, and wasting time on presenting something that is practically not pleasantly visible.
So, when you communicate the actual meaning or purpose of every single app screen, do not make an extensive use of colors, and try to have a perfect mix and balance of everything. However, do not cut down on colors leading to a plain presentation.
“Accessibility First” has to be the ultimate mantra when designing apps, since you have to make everybody happy rather than concentrating on a selected few.