The web is everywhere. I’d say the chances are that right now you’re reading this from an electronic device of some kind (unless some ultra-hipster who only reads web pages that have been printed, in which case… why?!). With so many browsers and operating systems it’s never been more important to make our digital experiences as simple as easy as possible. We do this in several ways, though for now I’ll talk about UI/UX design and accessibility.
The user interface (UI) is your look and feel. It’s the colours, layout and imagery you choose that give your website its appearance. Without it your site is about as visually interesting as a plain Microsoft Word document. In UI design, designers implement (sometimes subconsciously) something called Gestalt Principles (see here). These fundamentals essentially lay the groundwork for an effective UI, and yeah, using something called “Gestalt principles” makes it sound boring, but if anything it’s just putting a fancy name to all these practices.
Now UI design is great and all (not to mention fun!), but it’s worth squat without good user experience (UX). If users are confused by an interface or what actions they can make, then chances are they’ll leave and never return. Over time we’ve become used to certain expectations for how web elements will function. In fact, Bagaar created a great example of what horrendous UX looks like (see here). This is where UX design comes into play. It’s about creating a great journey for your users so they can use your site without getting lost. Little things like indicating a disabled button by lowering its opacity instead of greying it out (see here) that can make all the difference. UX is something I still have so much to learn about, but I hope you’ll stick with me as I do.
Finally, we have accessibility. Accessibility is all about making your website as available as possible to users with visual or hearing impairments. This means including alt text on all your images (screen readers will describe the image to users), subtitles on videos, and high contrast colours (bright yellow text on a white background is a no-no). While these may not be things able-bodied people may have to deal with, it’s simply not fair to exclude a user from your page simply because they’re deaf or colour blind. The web should be inclusive to all, and good accessibility is one step to getting there.