As far as I'm concerned, holiday is not complete without a board game and a good book. So why not add a touch of design accessibility reading into the mix at the beach, or in the battlements of a castle?
A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences by Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery was recommended to me by Caroline Jarrett as great book for designing for the web, with accessibility in mind.
It's an enjoyable read with a good overview, detail areas, examples, references and tangible actions. It is written to be relevant to a mixture of team members and skill levels, not just designers. Which is core to their message, designing with accessibility in mind is the whole teams responsibility. I heartily recommend it.
Things it got me thinking about
An opportunity. A definite takeaway is what an exciting opportunity accessibility is - and what a big impact it can make to users. I think the use of personas throughout the book really help to drive this message. As designers and teams making digital products we should be excited by this challenge and make it our own requirement. It can be something we bring with us to all of the clients and projects we work with.
Is it design? Some of what is discussed in the book as good approach are just design to me. If you're not actually doing things like designing with goals, simplicity or clear hierarchy, then I'd go as far as to say your not actually designing. 'Pixel pushing' is not design. Solving who, how and why things work, is. So in some ways the basics that have been explained here sadden me. Have 'designers' become so focused as jazzy false window dressing that these things need to be explained?
How it works. We should no longer view websites as a bunch of fixed pages, but as a flexible system. We are not designing for devices, but for a multitude of interactions and content layouts. These can be experienced by different types of users in a multitude of ways. Systematic thinking is becoming a must for good digital designers to navigate this complexity.
Know your users. What can I say? I have worked in agencies in the past where this was just not even a consideration. I love getting involved in user research and I can not emphasise enough how important this is an activity for the whole team. I recently had a chat in the lift with a developer about how much he was enjoying getting involved in research, his only regret: "that we didn't get to do it sooner!"
Making things to test. Getting what you're making into the hands of users. I recently went to a university design show where the students had put together great conceptual ideas using very visually attractive presentations and good sales pitches of their products. The thing that's missing? Actual testing. There is nothing wrong with making a quick and dirty prototype and finding out what people actually think. Otherwise, it's just a hypothesis.
Code as design. How you make things is as much of a design decision as what you're making. Poorly built sites with inconsistent code and markups impact the design as much as the aesthetic and interactions, they work hand in hand — the result is just bad design.
We are all different people. Addressing accessibility helps to open your mind to how others do things and how they use the things you make. As a designer knowing more about different users helps you make better decisions that are less about you and more about others.
Being a designer. To me, being a designer means being able to work across a variety of skills; just doing only one thing is not really enough. Design covers strategy, service design, prototyping, research and much more. To stay relevant, designers will have to be comfortable moving across more than one area, especially in digital.
These are just a few things that came to my mind, to get your thoughts moving toward accessibility why not have a read!