A journey into accessibility: a graphic designer’s tale

Our designer, Matt, tells us, from his perspective, the journey into accessibility

Undertaking a web design/development project can be an exciting time for all involved and over the past few months at HeX, we’ve had the pleasure of working on some great projects. However, it can be all too easy to forget about accessibility issues from both the client’s side and the designer/developer’s perspective.

hex designer

I’m by no means an expert on this topic, this blog talks about my journey into accessibility, what I’ve learnt so far and what I’m still learning. When I was fresh into the design industry three years ago, eager to prove myself and show how good I was at making attractive designs, accessibility’s role in web design was one of the last topics that I thought of. Admittedly, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you a single thing about it.

As an aspiring designer, how could I have gone through higher education, learnt how to create eye-catching designs and websites but not be informed on what makes a website accessible and how to design with accessibility in mind? Not only that, but in previous roles, I have never once been handed a brief that has touched upon accessibility. It seems I’m not alone in this experience within my industry, but I’ll side-line this particular rant for another time!

In my first six months in the design industry, I was so excited at finally getting a position in my dream job. I was keen to show off my skills on every design project I could. It never occurred to me that 30% of web users have some form of accessibility issue and use the web in a completely different way to those without impairments.

Since I made the jump into full time freelance work, I’ve learnt much more about a host of topics within my industry but by far the most enlightening has been website design that incorporates accessibility. I’ve had the pleasure of studying this with HeX as it’s a key topic we address at the start of each web design project we undertake and will be the focus of the upcoming HeX Productions website.

After submitting the HeX website designs to Shaw Trust for an accessibility review, we were delighted when the website passed accessibility tests with flying colours. The process that has taught me a great deal.

When undertaking new website design projects nowadays, I examine my work for any issues that may arise with accessibility. Some quick key points to consider from a design perspective are listed below:

  • Ensure there are no colour clashes throughout your website (there are some excellent tools online to help with this)
  • Use clear contrasts between backgrounds and text
  • Clearly highlight any text within paragraphs that are hyperlinks
  • Remember to label and tag images throughout your website
  • Left align your text rather than centring it

I hope this blog benefits not only fellow designers and developers out there, but also business people who should be aware of accessibility when contracting a design/ web development agency to redesign their website. Making a website accessible could open your business up to 30% more of the population and reward you with higher rankings on Google.

The beauty of my job means that I’m always learning, and I look forward to continuing my accessibility education with HeX Productions and Shaw Trust over the coming months.

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