UX Follows a User-Centred Design (UCD) Process

In a nutshell, the UCD process focuses around:

  • user-research (and regular research)
  • sketching ideas addressing users’ needs that were learned in the first step
  • prototyping the most promising of the last step’s ideas (to be evaluated through more user-research)
  • iterate through testing and repeating steps as required

Web Accessibility, Usability and the User-Centred Design Process

Usability issues impact all users equally, regardless of ability; that is, a person with a disability is not disadvantaged to a greater extent by usability issues than a person without a disability. Usability is about analyzing patterns and processes of using a (digital) product.

Accessibility issues decrease access to a product for people with disabilities. When a person with a disability is at a disadvantage relative to a person without a disability, it is an accessibility issue. (It looks at how an individual needs to access digital content…how the content needs to be presented, such as through visual, audio, and/or tactile form.)

Where do we start?

Start by evaluating the current online design/system. This is a heuristic review of the current design that looks at usability principles and accessibility standards.

The complete heuristic review should include a:

  • web usability review; and,
  • a web accessibility evaluation.

(Ideally, a heuristic review will become one step…accessibility will be understood as being an essential part to usability.)

“No. I don’t think the Empire had Wookiees in mind when they designed it, Chewie.”
Hans Solo to Chewbacca about the Tydirium imperial shuttle when they’re trying to figure out how to fly it

What is User Experience?

The ISO 9241-210 defines user experience as

a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service.

According to the ISO definition, user experience includes all the users’ emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after use.

The ISO also list three factors that influence user experience:

  • system
  • user
  • context of use

User experience focuses on having a deep understanding of users:

  • what they need (web usability)
  • what they value
  • their abilities (web accessibility)
  • their limitations (web accessibility)

It also takes into account the business goals and objectives of the group managing the project. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of your product and any related services.

UX is an ongoing process with regard to learning about the users, responding to their behaviours and evolving the online experience of the product.

References

What is Web Accessibility?

The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) defines web accessibility as people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web.

Web accessibility is the practice of removing barriers and maintaining equal access to the interaction and content of a website for people with a diverse range of abilities. It is Tim Berners-Lee (1997), W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web, who stated that “the power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

Making the web more accessible is gaining world-wide momentum in web design and development. Standards create a conceptual framework for an equal digital environment. Policies and practices are what bring standards to life by integrating them into systems and processes. The W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are the current standard that most of the world follows.

Web accessibility focuses on making websites accessible to people of all different abilities. It is based on the theoretical understanding that if a website is designed and developed using current worldwide standards and guidelines, then the information of the site can be accessed by all equally. But there is more to accessibility than strict conformance to standards.

Reference

Introduction to Web Accessibility. (2005, February 1). W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php

Creating an Inclusive Web Framework (research project abstract)

This study delves into existing literature regarding web accessibility and usability. It looks into the relationship between accessibility and usability to highlight how both practices complement each other and, when used together, will create a better, and accessible, user experience. This research study employed a survey to understand how web designers, developers and professionals (the participants) perceived the relationship between web accessibility and usability. This survey also presented a table of combined heuristics and questioned whether the participants considered an integrated view using combined web accessibility guidelines and usability heuristics to be a good segue into a more comprehensive, and inclusive, web design framework. This research study is working towards an inclusive web framework that focuses around the user experience of users of all abilities with regard to the perspectives of web designers, developers and professionals in its’ development.

Contact me if you’re interested in reading this paper.

(Note: This is an older post from May 2014 that I’m posting again.)

The Mind’s Eye

I’ve been devouring a lot of books by Dr. Oliver Sacks lately. Okay, maybe not devouring, but rather nibbling at a fairly steady pace. My gateway book was “The Mind’s Eye.” I heard about it from some professors and fellow students in my program and decided to check it out. Dr. Oliver Sacks has now become my favourite, non-fiction writer…and all round individual (please make some room Sir David Attenborough).

In “The Mind’s Eye,” Dr. Sacks invites us into the world of people who have lost their sense of sight, their sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to recognize faces or the ability to read. He shares the experiences of people who face an extreme change in their life after a loss due to a stroke or a neurological disorder, as well as those who may not have been born with a specific ability but then acquires it through a neurological change. How does one recognize a friend when they cannot recognize a face? If one has lost an ability that they have relied on all their life, how do they compensate? How do they adapt?

Book cover for The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks

This book does not deal with the devastation of loss, but of the creativity, tenacity and adaptability of the human spirit. It shares the experiences of others to help us understand experiences outside of ourselves.

Please beg, borrow or barter to get your hands on this book to read.

Dr. Oliver Sacks was a practicing physician and was also a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

(Note: This is an older post from May 2014 that I’m posting again.)