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In the realm of design, inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental principle that underpins truly impactful creations. Accessibility in design means making digital products including websites, social media, and creatives, accessible to all, regardless of ability or disability. Remember: a good design is nothing if it’s not accessible to everyone.

No matter what the medium, prioritising accessibility ensures that everyone, regardless of ability, can engage seamlessly.

And, it drives results.

Websites that are accessible have increased discoverability, with nearly 74% of accessible websites experiencing a surge in organic traffic and improved SEO ranking.

So, what do you need to keep in mind to ensure your designs are useful for any user, anytime?

No one understands this better than our Head of Creative, Matt Stokes. He has been leading the mission to make visual designs with everyone in mind. Here are his actionable steps to help you significantly improve the accessibility of your creatives.

The target audience

This is where it should all begin. If you know you’re designing for a group of people who have a certain different ability, test it with people who have specific needs. This can expand further to things like showing a work-in-progress animation to a kid if children are the target audience – but ensure that they’re in the correct age range, or else you could get an inaccurate response.

Keep in mind: users will have different needs whether they are auditory, visual, hearing, or others, however, in this article, we will be focusing on visual accessibility and testing the design with that audience should be a priority, rather than making assumptions.

Check out the contrast

There are 300 million colour-blind people in the world – that’s 4.5% of the population! Even so, studies show that as many as 56% of images aren’t accessible to people with visual impairments and 84% of home pages have low-contrast text. Fix that by ensuring there is enough contrast between text and icons and the colour they’re against. This can affect colour choices when devising brand palettes for example. Ideally, everything should pass the web content accessibility standards.

Colour blindness and visual impairment can vary, so you can’t just stick to one rule like “avoid yellow and white” and hope for the best! People with different types of colourblindness should be front of mind here, but if you design for more apparent cases, everyone benefits.

A good resource to use to check your colour contrast is this contrast checker – throw in your hex codes and see how they fare. You can make changes by lightening or darkening them to ensure that you’re passing the web content accessibility standards we mentioned earlier.

Text size matters

We get bogged down in looking at designs of large sizes on our massive screens but sometimes neglect to consider the context. An image might be displayed really small, and we need to make sure it is legible. I’m looking at you, tiny Google Display ads that appear at the top of a mobile phone screen! 👀

Source: ads.google.com

Example of Google Display ad with small text
Live text

Avoid text within imagery on websites, and try to steer clear of it in social media posts too. By including it, you’re excluding some users from reading it! Instead: include text coded as part of the site, or alongside an image in the case of social media. This will ensure that it enlarges when zoomed in, with no loss of resolution! This is especially important for users navigating and taking in content via screen readers, but it will also solve issues like words being pixelated and harder to read when expanded.

Alt text isn’t optional

In the UK, there are more than 2 million people living with visual impairments. Thus, when building a website with images, you’ll need alt text describing what is in the picture. Alt text is there to convey the “why” of the image. Not only is this good for SEO, but it is also read aloud to users using reading software, allowing those people to have a complete experience when visiting your site or checking out your design. Be considerate of what you’re outlining when putting together your alt text – if it’s to aid someone who can’t see, then don’t go into detail about irrelevant visual details. This is now an available feature on most social media sites too.

Colour Wheel
Keep colour inclusive

As well as contrast checking, colour also throws up a possible issue: colour can’t do all the heavy lifting – you’ll need icons as well, or descriptive words to signify differences. Consider a traffic light: if you were colourblind you’d still be able to know if it was telling you to stop (the top light) or go (the bottom light). But this itself relies on assumed knowledge. So avoid colour coding if it isn’t also accompanied by icons or labels that make it clear what is being marked.

Speedy Sans Serifs

And whilst we’re on text, if you’re making an animation, make sure that you’re leaving enough time for people to read the text included in your video. Furthermore, it’s crucial to keep in mind people with neurological conditions like epilepsy, one of the most common neurological conditions in the UK and worldwide, who might be suffering with photosensitivity. So when making animations, you can’t have lots of flashing imagery as this could cause a seizure in someone with a condition like this, for example.

Testing is the key to accuracy

If you’re designing for print, PRINT IT! At actual size! Show it to others to test it out. If it is going on a wall, whack it on a wall and view it from the distance people will read it from!

If you’re designing for screen, display it at the correct size, in context! Again, show it to others to ensure it’s passing the test. If you were getting a product made, you’d make a prototype or dummy version made at actual size, so apply this to your design process when it comes to visuals and websites too.

Web of opportunity

When it comes to UX, there are plenty of considerations to bear in mind when designing a website. Say you have a form at the bottom of a page – ensure that labels are close to their free text fields, so that screen reader users can associate the label with the relevant field.

Another feature that might look nifty but excludes some users is the use of hover states. They might not be accessible by some users with different setups, so any essential or vital information can’t be kept in a hover caption when revealed as a rollover.

Finally, simplicity is the very antithesis of superfluous complexity

Keep things simple in terms of text. If there’s an easier way to say it, then say it like that. We want the language we use to be inclusive and understandable, not exclusive and incomprehensible.

First steps to total accessibility

By integrating accessibility considerations into your design process, you’re not only keeping things inclusive but also enhancing the effectiveness of your campaigns. When your designs resonate with a broader audience, you’re more likely to achieve your desired impact. Remember, designing with everyone in mind isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage that can elevate your designs to new heights of success.

So, embrace accessibility as a core aspect of your creative journey, build checking and testing processes as standard and watch as your designs and websites connect more deeply with your audience, driving impactful and effective campaigns.

To book a consultation with us about how to make your design accessible, send us a message today! From your website to social media, branding and creatives, Arke has got you covered.


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