Addressing Problematic Trends in Web Design

August 30, 2017

Web design today follows the trends of markets and people. Since the inception of the internet and its vast array of applications in both communication and business, people have been constantly innovating and improving user experience design around the globe, in every industry imaginable.

When discussing inclusive design, we need to first understand its vast scope and the myriad different industries involved. It is for this reason that we will enumerate several disciplines of technical development that overlap such as digital inclusion, design for all, and universal usability. Although they all address a broad range of increasingly specific issues, their overall goal is essentially the same: to make advancing technologies available to use by all.

Despite the best intentions of most professionals working toward these solutions and innovations, it is the policymakers who are so crucial to setting the standards for universal accessibility. The United States Access Board has a list of provisions for internet accessibility — as well as a developing list of known issues with widely used products — and have made great strides in outlining policy and standards that providers should adhere to for these purposes, which include:

  • Provide text equivalents for every non-text element
  • Provide captioning for audio presentations
  • Assign text to elements
  • Synchronize alternatives to multimedia presentations
  • Design webpage for colored and uncolored formats
  • Organize documents to be readable without an associated style sheet
  • Include redundant text links for active areas of server-side image maps
  • Title frames to allow easy identification and navigation
  • Ensure screens don’t flicker at a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz
  • Identify scripting languages used to display content with functional text to be read by screen readers
  • Provide a method for skipping repetitive navigation links

Understanding Usability vs Inclusion

At this stage, we need to make a clear distinction between the often muddled terms of “usability” and “accessibility,” especially given the oft-confusing overlap of purpose and exchange of these terms among tech professionals (especially web and app designers). Usability is a practice geared toward making a product or service easy to grasp, intuitive, and smoothly navigable. 

Identifying Target Issues

The appropriate blending of the above-mentioned strategies comes together best under the term “inclusive design,” which makes its goal the dual result of a product that is both accessible and usable. Naturally, when discussing target demographics, the spotlight segues toward those who require special consideration: people with visual, cognitive, and auditory impairments.

Some of the major trends that are the most problematic (and increasingly popular) include:

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