Upon closer inspection, while it may look like there’s a limited number of requirements to a system, there’s a whole set of potential improvements that will need checked to make sure your site is accessible and a pleasant, engaging experience for all. We’ll be looking at a few of these, which should hopefully give you a better understanding of the work we do to make sure products are sound.
This article follows from part 1 of this series
Digital literacy and compatibility
One of the most important things to keep in mind regarding differences between users, is their different levels of technological interest and literacy. This can immensely affect your users, as it may make it a lot harder for them to identify the correct use for your platform. During testing we’ll take care to remember that not everyone has the same understanding of technology and we’ll be sure to consider rewording text in a way that makes it comprehensive to the greatest amount of people.
This also means allowing a greater level of flexibility for user input. Ideally, systems should be able to handle any format of information that it can be parsed into usable information. This means making sure, that an accidental extra space for emails or an unusual presentation for a phone number can still be accepted.
Phone validation should ideally be flexible enough that it can accept multiple formats, or even minor errors from the user. The mobile phone validation on the left is quite rigid, while the improved phone validation on the right allows for multiple different ways of typing a phone number, and will automatically reformat it after form submission for ease of use.
We’ll also test products on multiple devices, browsers and screen sizes to make sure users will be able to access the website, minimising the impact of access through different software and hardware.
Accessing a website that was designed for a different language can also greatly affect user experience. Many languages are more verbose, with generally longer words, which can affect display, as can more succinct languages. This is very important to keep in mind when designing websites with translatable content, as you want to make sure that presentation won’t be affected by this. You also want to avoid splitting sentences into parts as, grammatically, languages can be quite different from one another.
Integrated Google Translate translated this text automatically, but it no longer fits.
Accessibility for disability and impairment
On some websites, we’ll also have to put a great level of emphasis on access for people with a disability or sensory impairment. Information must remain accessible to all users. This means making sure that essential information is always provided as an alternative to images or other visual content, ensuring that the whole page is readable and fully accessible by screen readers.
The page should always display a sufficient level of contrast, preferably one that works well for people with a form of colour-blindness.
We also want to provide text that is easily resizable without affecting page use, for people that might be hard of sight.
For people with Protanopia colourblindness, the text in the top image is displayed similarly to the bottom picture.
Personal information and considerations
Another important consideration is to continually review and collect all the relevant and up-to-date information regarding a user’s demographic profile. It’s important to be mindful that there are various characteristics that could affect a person’s ease of use of a system. A person could have multiple nationalities or ethnicities. Some characteristics may require updating, such as a title, name, gender, location, or marital status. Users could also be living abroad or have a foreign phone number. All of this can make the system more hostile for users if it isn’t accounted for.
It’s also crucial to make sure that the system only collects information that is relevant to the system or the operations surrounding it, and asks for user consent where required, to best protect personal information under the GDPR, as well as other security and privacy laws.
We like to think of our approach here at Mercurytide as very comprehensive: we consider the core needs of a system with an outside-the-box approach, but we know that it’s just as important to not brush over specific user needs, that can really make or break how approachable your system will seem to users.
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