“Practicing inclusive design puts you ahead of the curve for best practices for accessibility that will become a future standard X months from now.” – Derek Featherstone
Accessibility is not only important for legal compliance. It shouldn’t be a conversation withheld until complaints are received. Approximately 1 billion people in the world, or 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.
But even still, accessibility in our efforts as communicators, designers, and marketers is essential to our collective goal: making information available to as many people as possible. Organizations that employ campaigns designed with accessibility in mind can position themselves more competitively in the marketplace and offer services that others, who may still be learning to adapt to and make good use of technology in their business, can provide.
Moreover, it is important to note that inclusive design takes all conditions of humanity into account, including how those without disabilities may benefit from human-centered user experiences. For example, a new parent carrying a small child or a person on a loud train on their way to work may encounter your advertisement differently than someone in a quiet room, giving your efforts their full attention. UX designer, Josephine Miller, goes into specifics here.
As an introduction to accessible design, though, here are some principles your team can employ right away to make the first steps towards inclusive design, focusing on practices that are traditionally overlooked by communicators, designers, and marketers alike:
Magazine layout by Erin Lancaster.
Visual hierarchy is a very subtle tool designers can use to help draw the eye to the most important pieces of information. It will capture the attention of the viewer, then compel them to continue absorbing the supporting details.
In the example above, making strategic use of space in the graphic naturally draws the reader to first look at the largest object in the photo, “Kafe,” then the name of the cafe, and finally, more details about the restaurant. This explicit order is especially important in more detailed pieces, like magazines and advertisements, where a reader is faced with a lot of information all at once. This guidance of the eye is helpful to maintain the attention and interest of readers of all abilities.
Complimentary colors vs. adjacent colors via Smashing Magazine
Viewers can also be guided with the effective use of color. As a rule of thumb, use a 70% color value to determine whether your palette can be perceived by both people with congenital vision problems and those who want to avoid a migraine.
The image above more simply conveys the color contrast between complimentary colors and adjacent colors. To ensure your text and graphics are legible to people of all visual abilities, choose colors opposite to each other, at least one hue apart from each other, or on opposite sides of the light and dark spectrum of the color wheel. This tool can be helpful for marketers in branding for an organization and developing new products. Just look at how other brands like Tide and the LA Lakers make use of this technique.
The final, most important tool to use is making accessibility part of your research. Asking others, seeking out opportunities to improve, and recruiting people with disabilities on your team makes a big impact on marketing efforts. After all, it is up to all of us to champion inclusivity to share ideas and set the standard for communication the world around us.