Top 7 mobile accessibility best practices for app design8 min read
Modern web and app design must include an important component called accessibility design. In order to create inclusive user experiences, designers must mix accessibility and UX best practices.
This article discusses the significance of online accessibility as well as seven crucial best practices that designers may incorporate into their processes.
What is mobile accessibility in app design?
A well-established set of procedures called mobile accessibility helps people with various disabilities use apps more effectively. By giving accessibility first priority, you can ensure that your software is downloaded by as many people as possible and reduce the likelihood of being sued over accessibility issues. Additionally, you'll save money on long-term development expenses and get better user retention (among numerous other benefits).
We'll go through a few key mobile accessibility principles in this article. This is not meant to be a full guide to creating mobile apps; for more information, we suggest setting up a mobile accessibility audit to see if your app provides appropriate accommodations for its users.
Why is mobile accessibility important?
Since over 80% of people on the planet own smartphones, you shouldn't restrict the use of your app to people who are healthy and without physical or mental limitations. By doing this, you're merely making it harder for people to interact with your software. With this in mind, accessibility should be regarded by mobile developers as a necessary component of development rather than as a “nice-to-have” feature.
The following are the top three reasons why creating an accessible app is crucial:
- For ethical reasons: By designing an app without accessibility features, you limit its user base to those who are not disabled in any way. Designing and producing products with accessibility in mind enables people of all abilities to use them. That implies that everybody can use your software regardless of physical or mental capacity. For instance, giving individuals with hearing problems access to audio information through the use of subtitles.
- Legal grounds: Discrimination against any person “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, benefits, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation” is prohibited by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Seyfarth Shaw estimates that 10,982 ADA Title III lawsuits will be brought in 2020. Domino's Pizza and Rideshare LLC have both been sued for their accessibility policies. To reduce the chance of legal action, making sure your mobile app is accessible is best.
- Business justifications: Making an app that is inaccessible to the over 1 billion individuals who live with disabilities is constricting. Making your software accessible improves user experience and makes nearly $6 trillion of sound business sense.
7 accessibility best practices for mobile app design
Plan for different screen sizes
Designers must take into account the smaller screens and unique aspect ratios of mobile devices when creating native apps. The amount of information that can be viewed on a smaller screen at once is constrained, especially when users must enlarge content owing to impaired vision.
The following are some pointers to help people get the most out of small screens:
- Reducing the quantity of content on each page (in comparison to a desktop or laptop) by offering a mobile-specific website or responsively building the site
- Giving touch controllers and information an acceptable default size to reduce the need for individuals with low vision to zoom in and out
- Link text length should be adjusted for viewport width
- putting form fields underneath their labels rather than next to them
Create informative alternate text for photos
When planning for accessibility and inclusion requirements, screen readers are an essential factor to consider. Screen readers are frequently used by people who are blind to “read” the internet to them. Users can hear the words on a website by turning text into speech.
The user will listen to a description of any images or photos the screen reader sees. The level of usefulness or quality of that description varies greatly and depends on the level of UX/UI work done by the design team.
Screen readers can read descriptions contained in the image element's attribute or the image's surroundings or context. This frequently results in hearing simply the word “image.” Sometimes, screen readers only read the file name of the image.
What a disappointing user experience! It's all due to the absence of written alt text. For the sake of accessibility, create a description that describes what's happening in the image and how it pertains to the story.
Make an image skippable for screen readers by adding an empty “alt” text element if it serves merely as decoration or is unnecessary. Fortunately, Google's AI for captioning images keeps getting better and, by some metrics, is already almost 94% correct. But for the time being, keep providing helpful alt text for images.
Provide simple data entry techniques
Another distinguishing feature of mobile devices and native applications is multi-modal data entry, which allows users to enter data using various methods, such as the on-screen keyboard, Bluetooth keyboard, and speech. Text entry can be time-consuming and challenging for specific users, but other data entry methods can replace it.
You can reduce the amount of text entry required by including select menus, radio buttons, and checkboxes or by auto-filling data that is already known (e.g., date, time, location). Data entry through typing is laborious. By offering substitutes like autofill, data exchange between apps, or dictation, you can enhance the overall app experience and avoid mistakes.
Label form fields and input with instructions or labels.
Minimalist design is preferred in “modern” architecture. This frequently entails removing any limits or labels in form fields that can be plainly seen. It is amazing for a minimalist design aesthetic. For individuals who experience cognitive or physical impairments? Not really. So remember this.
Without the visual signals of a more conventional design, users with cognitive disabilities could have trouble locating and interacting with form fields. Visible labels are more intuitive than placeholder text. Knowing where to click (or even having a sizable click-target area to engage with) makes a significant difference for people with mobility impairments or limits, especially for those who use adaptive pointing devices or other adaptive technology accessible for accessibility needs.
Usability suffers when labels or instructions are removed or hidden from forms for the sake of a slick appearance. For navigation, screen reader users who tab through form fields rely on form labels. Screen reading software actively skips over non-label text to find label components. Within that non-label text group? Indicative text. Labels and outlined form boundaries should always be used.
Put the right direction here in formatting for content
It is possible to design for accessibility and inclusiveness using appropriate headings. Text headings determine site style and purpose. They choose the order of the content on the page. Larger font sizes denote a title, which makes it easier for readers to understand the hierarchy of the information.
Use the appropriate structural HTML components while creating a website. This enables browsers to handle the content properly. Additionally, it creates the accessibility tree for your page, which screen readers utilize to read and describe everything to people who are blind or visually impaired.
Avoid using HTML elements solely for design effects by keeping in mind that screen readers traverse web pages using real headers. When you design for accessibility, people may meaningfully “hear” your UX/UI.
Check the color contrast twice
The WCAG specifies typical color contrast ratios suitable for most users, but mobile applications and devices require special consideration. Mobile devices are more frequently used outside, where the sun's glare may make it difficult to view the screen. All users should utilize good contrast; poor contrast can make it more difficult for those with low vision to access content on mobile devices.
A proper contrast between the font color and the backdrop maintains text legibility. The text should have a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 to be compliant with WCAG 2.1 AA (larger text at least 3:1). Because wider character strokes are easier to read at a lower contrast than narrower character strokes, allowing varied contrast ratios for larger text is beneficial.
As a result, designers have more freedom to use contrast, which is advantageous for components like titles. However, this provision for decreased contrast on huge text becomes challenging because app information is viewed on smaller displays and under varied lighting circumstances.
Make sure layouts and templates are consistent
In a mobile application, elements that appear on multiple pages should be laid out consistently. Pages of a certain size and orientation should be consistent in where they place repeated components and navigational elements in responsive web design, which arranges components based on device size and screen orientation. A native program, for instance, contains a title, a search form, a navigation bar, and a logo.
These components are located at the top of every page in the same relative order. The navigation bar condenses into a single icon with a drop-down list when the program is viewed in portrait mode on a smaller screen, but the components in that list remain in the same order. The creation of seamless cross-channel user experiences depends on consistency. It makes the user feel at ease and in charge while carrying out tasks, even ones that can begin on one device and end on another.
Let’s execute accessible app design and development!
All people can actively engage in society and benefit from technological comforts thanks to equal access to technology. Mobile accessibility helps your business get a broader user base and a competitive edge in addition to compliance conformity.
Nevertheless, many developers are still unfamiliar with accessible coding standards, as it takes much study and expertise to achieve accessibility perfection. Even if they are aware of the concept, it can be challenging to include inclusive features in an aesthetically pleasing interface.
If you have trouble finding the right balance between accessibility and design, Groove Technology can help. We craft a first-rate app design that smoothly incorporates inclusion based on your particular needs and accessibility guidelines. Please send us a message so we can develop a world-class mobile solution for everyone.