UX accessibility - cover

Designing for Everyone: The Importance of Accessibility in UX Design

Design, Product
10 min
Apr 26, 2024

Reaching new target audiences is usually associated with the creation of something extraordinary. However, even with what you have achieved and developed, you can still engage more people by optimizing your product for users’ special needs.

Business owners who don’t consider accessibility factors in their online presence lose many potential clients. According to the survey results, 70% of online buyers leave sites that are difficult to navigate. So imagine the tendency toward website abandonment among people with special needs if even average users don’t compromise on poor navigation.

The role of accessibility in user experience (UX) is to create a product that all users can equally use. Adjusting a website or an application according to accessibility guidelines is about giving freedom and improving a user’s satisfaction level. Here, we will explain why this aspect of design creation remains of greater importance now than ever.

Benefits of Aligning with UX Accessibility Solutions

Accessibility in UX is often treated as a moral obligation. However, following its principles does benefit business in many ways.

accessibility in UX design

It Broadens the Target Audience Circle

The primary purpose of improving the product’s accessibility is to make it available to people with different disabilities. This is indeed a huge number of potential clients since, only in the US, there are more than 84 million disabled online users. However, the idea of accessibility opens up the possibility of convenient product usage to more categories of buyers.

First of all, some older people need support with new technologies, for whom navigation can be crucial for online purchases. Secondly, everyone can get into a situation where they are temporarily disabled to perform some actions. For instance, to hear the advertisement in a crowded place or type with a broken arm. And thirdly, due to a wide range of devices and technologies, the same content can look different on two devices if not adopted.

So, improving design accessibility can help businesses increase market reach many times over.

It Positively Influences Reputation

Demonstrating a desire to make your product available for all user categories makes your company respectful in customers’ eyes. Since the 1980s, Fortune 500 companies have marked their way toward including consumer specifics, which resulted positively. So, it is now a necessity to highlight diversity and inclusion in your company’s culture and values. Moreover, seeing the UX accessibility improvements you implement, your existing clients will recommend you to more people.

Another side of following accessibility standards is more serious. While some business owners might think that not focusing on that aspect can result only in losing clients, the risk of getting into an accessibility lawsuit is growing. If your company acquires that negative experience, it might keep people hesitant about your brand in the future.

Accessibility UX Design Principles

Designing with accessibility in mind is based on these key practices:

accessibility UX design principles

  • Following web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG). This is a comprehensive set of principles that dictate instructions on making the content available for people with disabilities. It explains how to adjust the product’s design for users with visual, auditory, speech, physical, cognitive, and other types of impairments.
  • Ensuring keyboard accessibility. Not all users have the possibility of browsing with a mouse or trackpad. For example, people with impaired vision don’t use the mouse because they can’t follow the pointer. But somehow, they need to click on the links or press buttons. These actions can be done with improved keyboard navigation.
  • Screen reader compatibility. Screen reader compatibility ensures that people who use specific devices to recognize the text can do that on your website or application. Screen reader programs allow people with special needs to navigate the content with a keyboard or braille display.
  • Color contrast. The requirements for color contrast are that you have to adhere to a 4.5:1 ratio. Some exceptions to not following the contrast ratio apply to large text, logos, and inactive user interface elements.

How to Apply Them in Practice

The WCAG guidelines are extensive and cover multiple aspects that allow people with diverse needs to use the content.

As a UX designer, you can implement these practices into the development process: adding meaningful links that don’t offer unnecessary information; ensuring consistent navigation where components have a specific order; using descriptive headings; offering device-independent design; making large touch targets; posting a warning before the new link opening; and others.

For color contrast, there is a recommendation not to give meaning to the information only with colors. For example, not to identify something good with a green color and something bad with a red color. Color representation cannot be the only indicator of meaning. In this example, you can divide the information into two columns with relevant headings.

Common Accessibility Mistakes in UX Design

The following are common oversights in accessibility during UI/UX design development:

  1. Neglecting keyboard navigation. As mentioned, keyboard-only users don’t rely on a mouse or touchpad. They expect to be able to navigate with the keyboard only. However, this factor is not usually thought out on many platforms.
  2. Not including alt text for images. Visual content makes the website or application look engaging. But for people with visual impairments, it will make no sense. Providing alternative explanations for the images will resolve this issue.
  3. Making complex forms. Forms are an integral element of every platform. Whether they help place an order or connect with the support team, they should be clear and informative. Ensure adding descriptive labels and clear instructions on how to fill out the form.
  4. Using undifferentiated links. Links are an important part of every website. They transfer users to other pages, help them learn about special offers, or gain more valuable information. However, not all links are created according to accessibility standards and thus can’t be read by screen readers and users with disabilities.
  5. Providing poor content readability. The main message is communicated by text. While people with good vision will apply zero effort to reading any type of typography, it might be a struggle for users with special needs. So, your text should be legible.
  6. Applying data tables with no markup. Tables are the biggest pain for screen readers and their listeners. Once those programs come across a table, they announce how many rows and lists there are and start to read the content, not in a relevant order. This information makes zero sense for consumers.

Tips to Ensure Inclusive Design from the Beginning

One of the critical rules in UX design accessibility is acknowledging that there is no prototype of a “normal” user. Even people without special needs might need extra help when they recover from injuries or use digital products under different circumstances and conditions. The designer should gather as many use cases as possible to include them in the design principles.

Another huge aspect of accessibility design is color. While it is an excellent tool for evoking emotions and communicating a message about your brand, it is not the only means to express the information. Also, color is vital for cultural differences. So before making your design colorful, understand its cultural meaning and add enough contrast.

A tip that can be applied to many design aspects is clarity. Information must be readable and easily perceived, whether part of the content, a link, or a call-to-action button.

Implementing Accessibility into the Design Process

Follow these recommendations to embed accessibility into your design process:

UX accessibility guidelines

  • Learn more about accessibility guidelines and disabilities. UI/UX designers who meet the concept of designing for a special for the first time have to dedicate time to learning more about it. This is about exploring disabilities, reading accessibility design guidelines, and accessibility audit checklists.
  • Make it an integral part of the process from the beginning. Accessibility is not something to be considered at the end. Its principles should be discussed and followed before building the product. Some of its principles, like designing for screen readers, require writing a special code, which will be difficult to change if implemented.
  • Explain the idea of designing for accessibility and its benefits to stakeholders. Business owners don’t usually get into details and differently prioritize the accessibility factor. But as a designer, you must show the benefits of creating a design suited to all users, regardless of their needs.

Collaboration with Accessibility Experts and Testing

Right at the beginning, at the stage of UX research, it is important to involve accessibility experts in the process. This is because designers have less expertise in aligning with WCAG or other guidelines.

A contribution of the same value can be received by conducting accessibility testing. On top of using automated tools like screen readers, color contrast analyzers, or browser extensions, involve people with disabilities in that process. Hence, you understand the pains of a real user.


Accessibility in the UI/UX development process is a necessity that is crucial to ensuring an equally convenient experience for all users. Ignoring the accessibility of your product is not only a sign of unprofessionalism but also the road to the loss of a potential audience. Therefore, it’s crucial to include accessibility principles in the project’s overall structure to minimize potential risks and budget losses in the future. On the other hand, beforehand, the implementation of accessibility may reduce legal risks, open new possibilities, and increase the competitive advantage.

by Ivan Klyzhenko
UX Startup Advisor, Uitop


What is UI/UX accessibility?

Accessibility in any digital project is a key component that provides all users with equal convenience during their experience. Accessibility in product development is not only about meeting the necessary criteria dictated by modern legal and ethical standards. It’s also the assurance of equal rights for people with visual, hearing, memory, or other impairments during product use.

What are the main benefits of UI/UX accessibility?

Implementing accessibility into the UI/UX experience has a lot of potential benefits. Firstly, it broadens the circle of your target audience since the product will not prevent people with limitations from using it. Secondly, your company will reduce potential risks, and finally, your product will look complete.

How do I apply accessibility principles in practice?

Following the WCAG is a must when your team approaches this process for the first time. The guidelines already include the requirements for accessibility in digital products. Also, during the development process, equal attention should be paid to ensuring the keyboard, screen readers, and color contrast factors, which constitute the main difficulties that people with special needs constantly face.

Are there any common mistakes in UI/UX accessibility?

Several common mistakes have to be avoided during the creation of accessible products. Of course, we are talking about neglecting keyboard navigation, creating complex forms, using undifferentiated links, poor readability levels, and ignoring markups on data tables.

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