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Universal Design Benefits and its Implementations | A Quick Guide

Navdeep Singh Gill | 20 December 2022


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Introduction to Universal Design

Universal design is a set of principles, strategies, and practices that aims to create products and services that are accessible and useful to as many people as possible. It’s a fairly complex concept, but breaking it down is much simpler than it seems. Essentially, it is about designing for everyone, regardless of age or ability. You might not be familiar with universal design principles because they primarily apply to physical objects rather than online ones. However, their principles can be easily translated into digital user experience design. They have become increasingly relevant in user experience design thanks to an increase in older users accessing the web through mobile devices. Continue reading to learn how to implement it in your projects!

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What is Universal Design in Web Design?

It is an approach to design, engineering, and social theory that creates products, devices, and environments that all people can use, regardless of age, ability, or condition. The concept began in the 1970s and 1980s as architects started considering how to create functional spaces for people with disabilities. It has since been expanded to include web design, software design, and product design. Universal design is based on three principles: - Apply What You Know: Know Your Users - Design For the Marginalized - Design For Adaptation.

The Importance of Universal Design in Web Design

A website is an excellent example of something you must design to be accessible to many people. Thanks to the internet, websites are a very individualized form of communication between businesses, brands, and consumers. They are a one-way street, meaning the business or website owner only has to worry about what they’re saying to their customers, not the other way around. However, this also means businesses only have one opportunity to get it right. When someone lands on your website, they have formed an opinion about your brand or product and how you conduct your business. If you can’t fulfill the promise you made on your website with the first interaction, you’ve failed. Because the web has become such a prominent source of information, businesses can no longer offer a product or service; they must also provide an experience. The difference between a positive and negative customer experience is often a matter of seconds.

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Why is Universal Design Important in Web Design?

A website designed with accessibility in mind will have a much higher conversion rate than a site that does not. Accessibility is also essential for meeting regulatory requirements. The digital landscape is growing and changing at an incredible pace. More people than ever are accessing the internet through their mobile devices, which means that the majority of users are experiencing your site on a smaller screen. Additionally, a growing number of users are experiencing the internet through assistive technologies like screen readers, which alter how they access the web. The more comfortable people are when using your website, the more likely they are to return and make a purchase. Universal design is not just crucial for the people who need it, and it’s essential for all of us. By making products and services accessible to as many people as possible, designers open up new markets. They also create products and services that are more efficient, easier to use, and less expensive to build.

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How to implement Universal Design in Web Design?

The best way to implement it in your web design is to apply what you know about your customers. Be personable and friendly, and remember that your website reflects your brand and business. In practice, this means keeping a few key points in mind when designing your site: Avoid relying on colors as identifiers, use appropriate font sizing, allow for different browsing experiences, and be aware of your page organization.

  • Avoid relying on colors as identifiers: If a particular colour is essential to your site, such as in a brand colour palette, you can use it. Otherwise, you need to avoid relying on colour alone to identify essential elements like buttons and links. Colour blindness is a common condition that affects 8% of men in the United States. - Use appropriate font sizing - Font sizing is an important consideration. Large fonts are great for headlines but can be challenging to read if used on body text.
  • Allow for different browsing experiences: In addition to making sure your site is mobile-friendly, you need to consider how readers might use your site in other ways. For example, someone with a disability might use a screen reader to navigate your site. You can accommodate these types of browsing experiences with a variety of tools and techniques.
  • Be aware of your page organization: Users scan web pages differently than printed materials. The most important content should be towards the top of the page, and the least essential items should be towards the bottom. A common mistake with new designers is attempting to cram as much content as possible on one page. This is unproductive, uninteresting, and unhelpful to your customers. Break it into easily manageable sections, and make sure it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.
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The world is getting older, and many people are either unable or unwilling to upgrade from their older devices. With this in mind, you must do more than just design for the newest technology because you will exclude a large portion of your potential audience. This is where universal design comes into play. By designing your projects with this in mind, you can ensure they are accessible to everyone. It can be applied to everything from the layout of your website to the content you include when designing for a specific device. It’s important to remember that everyone is different, so no design will ever be perfect for every user. Still, with a few design considerations in mind, you can create a website that works for as many people as possible.


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