Usability is sexy. Accessibility is hot. Clarity is…phwoar!

screenshot _ hearts and skylight

What could be more gorgeous than a website that is easy to use and accessible for all? The Sookio team is fresh from Camp Digital and full of tips for businesses who know that better usability helps win the hearts of customers - but don’t know where to start.

Sookio says:

Do read our accompanying post featuring the accessibility tools we’re sweet on too.

So, what’s the difference between usability and accessibility?

Usability is making sure someone can visit your website and do the thing they need to do. This could be to book tickets to your event. Apply for a job. Find out when the bins are going to be collected.

You want to make sure they can achieve this goal as easily and efficiently as possible, from the very first time they visit your site.

Accessibility – when we’re talking about website design – is all about making sure that all users have equal access to the content, with no barriers.

And how long has this been a problem?

I’ve been working digital content since digital content became a thing. And I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had where people are dismissive about usability.

I remember back in 2003 when I was at, and I was telling the sales team about all the complaints we were getting from viewers about the pop-ups. People were clicking on some ghastly car advert when all they wanted to do was find out what time Coronation Street was on.

The response? A shrug of the shoulders and a grumble about users being stupid – surely they can see these were ads! All they had to do was spot the teeny tiny ickle cross to close them down!

And what’s so wrong with that?

If people are coming to your website and find themselves unable to do the simple things they’re trying to do, it’s your fault, not theirs. We shouldn’t blame the user.

Unfortunately, the indifference to accessibility I saw in 2003 hasn’t gone away.

I regularly have conversations with people who don’t care that layering pale text over a cluttered image will make it hard to read. Or they expect people to actively enjoy filling in an online form that is 20 pages long rather than two.

We don’t spend enough time putting ourselves in the shoes of those actually using our websites, or actively trying to remove obstacles for those trying to get at our content.

But surely this doesn’t effect many people? Why do we need to bother?

Here are some facts and figures from the Disabled Living Foundation:

  • Around 1 in 5 of the UK population is disabled; that’s 13.3 million people

  • One person in 30 has sight problems (and this figure is going up)

  • One in six people has a form of hearing loss; around 10 million people

And over in the US, 48% of adults have trouble reading, explained Dana Chisnell in her Camp Digital talk Democracy is a Design Problem.

That’s 32 million people who can’t read, which is quite some figure, isn’t it?


What does this mean for businesses?

Well, I have good news for you. Making your websites more usable and accessible will….

Save you time. If people can find information easily and understand what you’re saying, you won’t get repeated phone calls asking for clarification of exactly the same information the last caller asked about.

Or, as Jared Spool explained in his talk Beyond the UX Tipping Point, if website content was created with the user in mind, people wouldn’t rock up at Disneyland thinking they’d booked for Disney World…5000 miles away. Oops.

Save you money. Make you money! You’re making it easier for people to buy from you. Book tickets. Sign up to a trial of your product. Join your mailing list and allow you to trouble their inbox, day after day.

Make you more attractive. Oh yes it will. You’ll earn positive sentiment from customers who are more able to find information and use your service.

Talented people will feel included, and more likely to apply to work with you. So if your diversity policy looks great on paper but hasn’t materialised into actual people on payroll, have you thought about making web content more inclusive? I have tips.

Read more on the Sookio blog.

To read more information, click here.

Sookio is a digital agency based in Cambridge, UK. We help our clients communicate with confidence through quality content for the web and social media.