SEO and user experience practices have helped build a solid website foundation for search engine marketing. By adding web accessibility criteria to your requirements, a new human experience design layer opens up creative marketing opportunities waiting to be discovered.
Agencies, design teams, and independent contractors tasked with building a digital web presence face pressures to keep up with rapid changes in the way websites are designed and searched.
It’s like being chased by an angry mob of imaginary competitors who sort of have an imaginary crystal ball. And unless you’re working all day and night, someone will outsmart you and jump forward in search results or social chats – or even become the next big brand.
Sometimes the process of collecting requirements has a way to allay fears. No one knows what you want to build and sell better than you do.
But sometimes the process of building the foundation opens Pandora’s box.
This article is about what happens when you thought the requirements collection and planning work was done, or you’re looking for some new ideas.
Today’s internet users want you to meet them on their own turf.
I will visit you every month via Search Engine Journal this year instead of being bimonthly, as web accessibility is something readers are interested in and really need to master to be successful in modern digital marketing. This month we’re starting with:
- Who needs an accessible web?
- Why should accessibility be added to your requirements?
Accessibility guidelines Support your foundation
As recently as yesterday SEO was king of the mountain. Historically, that had to be the Golden Egg because the web was there, we were here, and everything else wanted our attention.
Search engines and directories numbered in the thousands when they were free.
It was in our nature, as SEO professionals in those days, to outsmart and outsmart each other by intelligently organizing data or creating technology that would do it for us.
SEO information architecture supported. And soon enough, usability came splashing in the same puddles reminding us that people were searching – and people wanted to be happy with where the search engines had dropped them.
This journey lasted until more segments of the world’s population had access to the Internet at home, at work and at school.
The solid, reliable foundation for supporting website information architectures, chatting politely with search engine bots, and entertaining website visitors suddenly lacked a whole new set of unexplored requirements called “human experience.”
Think of it this way.
You may have experienced what it is like to take your attention away from the road while driving your car for a brief moment, and suddenly find yourself drifting past the painted lines or pulling away when someone. one honks you.
The painted lines are there to guide you as you move along the road.
Every browser, programming language, and marketing strategy has established guidelines that help maintain some sort of organization and stability on the web. These are our painted lines.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) holds the keys to the world of the Web. For universal design, accessibility, assistive technologies, the mobile web, and upcoming innovative technologies in AI, we rely on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
In the creative realm, guidelines are meant to be broken by those of you who want to design really cool stuff without holding back. Parallax and animation, Flash, and talking people slipping through web pages are frustrating experiences.
But unless challenged, the technology would never change. And we wouldn’t be screaming for joy at the next new search engine, animated avatar, or thoughtful helper developed for us to use in our daily lives.
The best method to stay on track with any new website project is to gather requirements and monitor changes in guidelines and technology.
This means that you don’t have to get comfortable in your job as an SEO, web designer, digital marketer, agency owner, or UX designer.
Accessibility jobs skyrocket
Some of the recent research news in the accessibility industry focuses on the number of ADA lawsuits. While there’s no doubt this is of concern, that’s not why web accessibility job postings are everywhere.
The need to improve accessibility is important for people who need accessible access to online education, jobs, banking, shopping, medical appointments and travel activities.
Whenever I conduct requirements gathering interviews, the first question is, “Who are you building for?” “
No one ever says, “People with disabilities. “
Traditionally, people don’t consider people they don’t understand or have no experience with.
Curious companies ask questions and create solutions, which in turn has energized the job market.
Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, USA Bank, Apple, Google and Adobe are expanding their accessibility services.
Twitter, Medium, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook are promoting alt-text descriptions for images and captions, with podcasts, Zoom, WebEx and others in pursuit with transcripts.
The beauty of meeting the needs of people who may not be able to see, hear, touch, or remember content without assistance is that ease of use for them is ease of use for everyone.
Who is your target market?
This is the requirement that will confuse you as there is no target human user to design for.
For accessibility, we don’t define our target market or user experience by disability first and the person second. On the contrary, we are directly targeting the human experience.
With human experience as “who,” your demands-gathering exercise can and should go way beyond the limits.
For search behavior and information architecture, search data is amazing. The information science community publishes an impressive volume of research studies on the different methods of acquiring information and deciding if and when it is useful.
In a study, Gender identification on Twitter, one of the research questions is: “Can we easily identify terms related to each genre?” “
As hard as you try to control keywords, search results, competitive knowledge, and social stardom, the absolute problem is that many discoveries on the web happen by accident or outside of targeted queries.
You cannot write “emotions” as a search behavior.
You cannot rate feelings like “stress” or “grief” as a user requirement.
Emotions are universal human traits that are unlikely to be a business requirement with the CEO or project manager.
In fact, when it comes to including people with disabilities – or temporary injuries that lead to loss of ability, or something as common as poor eyesight or trying to work from home while taking pain relievers that cause drowsiness – we know someone will tell us to use an overlay or plug-in to capture these use cases.
The overlays are attracting lawsuits from the ADA.
The requirement of why
Basically, accessibility is a civil right in the United States through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The current administration has returned the attention of the Ministry of Justice to supporting and enforcing the rights of persons with disabilities.
“At the end of 2021, the DOJ settled enforcement actions with Rite Aid Corporation and Hy-Vee Supermarket Chain regarding the accessibility of their online COVID-19 vaccine registration portals and with the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District regarding the accessibility of its public transport website and mobile application.
The reason designers and digital marketers find joy in their jobs can be attributed to several outcomes other than a weekly paycheck.
This is really important when a design is working well.
The only way to know for sure is to add quality assurance (QA) testing as a requirement. Accessibility testing can be added to Agile production cycles and testing with people with different disabilities can be added to test sprints.
It is more difficult to assess human emotions and behavioral responses, but you can ask for this feedback.
Investigate what motivated customers to make a purchase, for example. What triggers word of mouth? Was the product line fun? Clever?
Targeting this emotional need can be a “why” requirement.
I know someone who did this in the fourth quarter of 2021 and sold products for their brand new startup. Its products were based on funny stories; the kind that makes readers laugh out loud and kicks off PayPal.
Your foundation is as strong as your imagination.
Today’s demands are layers of proven methodologies and courageous experimentation by companies who aren’t afraid to find out what will help people do more, do better, and do like everyone else.
And of course we find ourselves confused by silly things like icons that serve the same purpose:
Or brand redesigns that don’t make any sense:
No foundation is perfect.
It’s a big planet. Someone is waiting for you to build something cool for them.
Image source: Shutterstock / MIND AND I