RampWEB, a web and software accessibility company

Is Accessible Usable?

Web sites must follow usability and accessibility principles to make them easier for users with disabilities to perform their tasks. Does a usable site mean it is accessible? Does an accessible site mean it is usable?

Web accessibility is the goal of ensuring that people can more easily access and use a Web site as effectively as people who don’t have disabilities. That is, allow more people in different situations such as being visually disabled or being wirelessly connected to the Internet to be able to use a Web site.

Usability relates to design elements of the Web site that affect every person's ability to easily understand the content and organization of the Web site. Designs focused on usability ensure that the user can learn and remember the Web site navigation, that they can easily navigate through the Web site and find information, and that they have a positive experience at the Web site. Usability is not just a matter of whether or not it is possible for a user to perform a task but is also a matter of how easy and fast it is for them to do so.

Usability Tips:

  • Create a message, layout, and navigation approach that is clear, simple, and consistent. Fonts, colors and layouts should also remain uniform throughout the site.
  • Adhere to Web standards.
  • Design sites to load quickly and limit the use of animations.
  • Add a page title to every page. Keep browser window titles short and meaningful.
  • Clearly define your site's purpose on the home page.
  • Place your logo at the top of every page so users know what site they’re on.
  • Underline all links and avoid underline text that is not a link.
  • Design content and formatting for scanning and reading. Label and section text appropriately using headings.
  • Avoid the use of business or technical jargon.
  • Use bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Use easy to read scalable fonts and background colors with high contrast to make the page more readable.

As long as designers view accessibility as a requirement to comply with regulations and technical specifications rather than as a way to enhance the user’s experience, equal access to the Internet will remain a challenge for people with disabilities. A Web site that is strictly accessible is not necessarily usable and a Web site that is usable is not necessarily accessible. But adhering to both usability and accessibility guidelines will make the Web accessible to all users!