Designing for inclusion and diversity is one of the most important things for designers to bear in mind. In a world where over a billion people globally currently need one or more assistive products, it’s essential that designers ensure that their content is accessible for as many people as possible. Read on for our Creative Designer George Tucker’s tips on how to make your designs inclusive for a diverse audience. Not putting up barriers but tearing them down.
Why is designing for inclusion and diversity important?
In our digital age, more people than ever before have access to a range of content. As of 2022, there are 4.95 billion internet users – 62.5% of the world’s population – according to DataReportal’s 2022 Digital Global Report. And 1.85 billion people across the world have some sort of impairment. This equates to a global spending power of $1.6 trillion – but if these people can’t access your content, they won’t spend it with you. And that’s just part of the business case. Ultimately, everyone deserves to have the best experience possible when interacting with your designs. Whether they are visually impaired, have a learning disability or something else that has not traditionally been catered for by the media – it doesn’t matter. There are so many ways to make your designs readable and understandable for everyone.And making these tweaks isn’t hard. Here are my tips for accessible design:
1) How to use colour
Colour is a great way to show off your brand’s personality. But as well as the colour choices themselves, you need to think about colour contrast. Important for those with vision and cognitive impairments and lower specification devices, the correct contrast ratio makes text easier to read. You should have a minimum of 4.5:1 contrast ratio between foreground and background elements, although larger or bold text (18pt/24px and above) can go down to 3:1. As well as contrast, it’s important to check that designs work in colour and greyscale. Use a combination of shapes, text styles and colour to highlight content, rather than rely on colour alone.
Here are my favourite resources for checking colour contrast and building colour palettes:
All of these are verified resources – it’s important to check that any resources have been accredited by an external body.
2) Typography: it's more than just words
What you say is important. But so is how you say it – and that includes the typography you use. Different styles, typefaces and font weights can make text more or less legible and readable. This is particularly important for people with learning difficulties or visual impairments.
- Avoid styles where letters mirror each other, such as b/d or p/q. This increases the chance of letters being muddled.
- Use letterforms that have equal stroke thickness, rather than lots of thin strokes. This makes words easier to read at smaller sizes or lower resolution.
- Watch out for extreme font weights, as letters become merged and are less recognisable.
3) Formatting your copy
The layout of your text is also important. The spacing of columns, individual letters and lines all has an effect on the reading experience.
- Narrow columns disrupt sentences at odd places, and makes reading awkward. Readers absorb less information.
- Similarly, columns that are too wide means the reader has to track back further, and may lose their place.
- Kerning (placement of individual letters) that is too tight merges letters, but too loose and they will float across the page.
Hopefully, you will already be doing many of these things. But in this digital age, as more people have greater access to an ever-increasing amount of content, you need to ensure you are doing all you can to make the experience accessible – and pleasant – for all. Interested in learning more? Keep an eye out for part two of this series, covering accessibility options specific for print and digital content. Want to take a step further and get personalised advice on how to make your content accessible? Get in touch with us.