A lot of people tend to confuse the two terms web usability with accessibility. While web usability and web accessibility are closely related, their approaches, guidelines, and goals overlap significantly. However, in most cases, like when designing and developing applications and websites, it’s usually more effective to address the two together. But at the same time, there are instances when it’s crucial to focus on a single aspect instead of both like when defining specific standards of accessibility and addressing discrimination against persons with disabilities.
In this article, we’ll research and explain the difference between usability and accessibility in Web Development, so you can get to understand what each is and its roles.
Web usability refers to a website’s ease of use. Some of the goals of quality usability include ensuring that information is presented in a concise and clear manner, essential items are placed in appropriate areas, and ensuring the site is not ambiguous. The site and content should be easy to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with. User testing can be used to determine if this is the case, and testing is an important step to ensuring that your site is accessible as well. Another crucial element of website usability is making sure that content has the ability to work on different browsers and devices.
The main aim of quality website usability is to ensure user experience satisfaction by lowering the time it takes a user to learn page navigation systems and new functionalities, allowing them to accomplish a task fast and efficiently without any major setbacks. It plays a crucial role in providing users easy ways to circumvent roadblocks, to fix errors, and to re-adapt to the application system and functionality or website with minimum learnability. For example, describing the content of images in image alt text can reduce confusion if images fail to load on a blog.
Web accessibility refers to the practice of ensuring that there are no barriers preventing access to, or interaction with websites on the internet by people with disabilities. When a site is properly designed, developed, and modified, one of the greatest benefits is that it could become easier for all users to have equal access to functionality and information.
The main aim of standards of website accessibility is to ensure that people with disabilities can understand, perceive, interact with, navigate and contribute to the web. It includes all types of disabilities that have an impact on web access ability including physical, cognitive, speech, auditory, neurological, and visual impairments, and an observance to website accessibility guidelines that benefit elderly users. It can incorporate the use of research and technology features like screen readers and other assistive technologies or software into your site.
From these definitions, we can conclude that the two aren’t so different in principle but address different issues. Usability addresses access to sites on the web while accessibility focuses on making it easy for people with disabilities to access and interact with a site. Therefore, it is safe to say that page and content accessibility is part of usability considering that a website could not and ‘usable’ unless it’s accessible. However, while usability does imply accessibility, the reverse is not necessarily true.
Web usability applies to any interactions between people and tools and is made up of several crucial considerations:
Web accessibility guidelines and standards focus on ensuring that people with disabilities, such as the following issues, can easily navigate and interact with websites:
While accessibility primarily focuses on persons with disabilities, most accessibility guidelines and standards will improve usability for all users. It also benefits persons without disabilities but is in limited situations like when browsing the internet on mobile devices when attention is elsewhere, in dark rooms, in noisy environments, in bright sunlight, and in emergencies.
When defining accessibility requirements, consideration is usually placed on not including aspects that will impact users similarly but mostly includes aspects that focus on users with disabilities since they are at a disadvantage. Nevertheless, these requirements are usually a non-issue for users without disabilities. W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) provides website and content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), best practices, and strategies that can help with the technical details of making your site accessible.
Combining usability processes and accessibility standards and technology with real people guarantees that web development is functionally and technically usable by all users. This is what’s known as accessible user experience or usable accessibility. Web developers and designers can employ usability methods, techniques, and processes like user experience design and user-centered design process to address the different user interface components of accessibility. While WCAG considerations for people with disabilities aren’t always included in most of the common practices, they can be incorporated into existing design techniques, processes, and methods quite easily.
The core aspects when it comes to incorporating real people in web design include:
Accessibility standards play a key role in accessible design. For instance, understanding basic accessibility principles and adhering to the WCAG standards that govern the development of early prototypes can help development teams provide accessibility. That way, when users are testing and evaluating the design and content, they can provide useful feedback.
How Complete can a Site’s Accessibility be?
User involvement and usability processes alone can’t address all accessibility-related issues. Even major projects cannot cover the diversity of assistive technologies, adaptive strategies, and disabilities. Accessibility standards, techniques, and guidelines ensure that more key issues are covered as we search for better solutions.
Usability is the measure of ease of interaction with a website while accessibility is all about whether the website can be accessed and navigated by anybody – either disabled or whole-bodied. When designing a website, it is imperative that you keep it simple and straightforward – a site that all people can understand and easily navigate.
Addressing site usability and web accessibility together will lead to the creation of more effectively usable, inclusive and accessible websites for everyone. It is vital that web developers and designed incorporate usability techniques and accessibility requirements to their web designs to ensure that they create sites that work better for everybody in every situation.