Usability / Accessibility
Have you ever been in a situation in which you couldn’t find company’s address or find a shopping cart in an online store? These website’s creators probably haven’t heard much of web usability.
According to Wikipedia, usability is the ease of use of a website, interactive devices or applications. In Poland term usability is used mainly with respect to web services or user applications ergonomy and covers all web page and application aspects that make them user-friendly and easy to use. A useful website is a website that allows user to perform basic tasks (such as form filling or place an order) in an easy way and to find required information quickly.
While creating websites we always have to pay attention to easiness of page navigation and easy access to the most important page elements. Web usability is also crucial from the marketing point of view. It is highly probable that a client who won’t be able to find required information after maximum three clicks will never visit the website again. Hence we can say that there exists strong correlation between ergonomy and application’s potential success. In this case usability is focused on intuitive navigation, easing of searching information and ensuring communication understandable for the user.
The term “usability” is closely related to usefulness, we can also consider it a special case of usefulness. The main purpose of increasing accessibility is to make sure the website or application is available and functions well for as wide audience as possible, regardless of the software or device type or user’s age and capabilities.
To reach this goal we have to pay attention to:
- code’s compatibility with the standards – document code correctness influences its loading speed and Google indexing. It is also important from the point of view of website’s availability.
- semantics defining the role of certain elements on the website in HTML code – it is especially important if the website is visited by people with disabilities, for example people using screen readers; it happens often that the software cannot distinguish normal text from headlines because of wrong semantics
- additional navigation by adding keyboard shortcuts – thanks to which we gain rapid access to service’s key elements like menu or page map; it facilitates page navigation and encourages next visits.
- facilities for vision-impaired people - for example additional page version with high contrast available on click or by keyboard shortcut, or enlarged font size.
- alternative content for multimedia elements very useful when the user does not have installed add-on, thanks to descriptions they know what multimedia were included.
Polish legislation does not require website creators to use accessibility standards. Only articles 32 and 69 of The Polish Constitution tell us about citizens’ equality in access to information regardless of any criteria including level of disability. This may serve as guidelines for creating websites and applications.