Week 10 was my first real look at usability and accessibility. These are both principles of web design. Usability looks at the experience of the user, is the website easy to navigate, can you find what you need quickly. Accessibility is very similar to usability, as it also focuses on whether a site is easy to use but in a different way. Does it use colours that are friendly to people who are visually impaired, is it possible to navigate without the use of a mouse. So to more clearly define the two, a website is considered to have good usability if a person using that site can achieve what they set out to do quickly and with minimal effort. A site is said to be accessible if a user with disabilities can use and interpret the information.
I had never really considered accessibility when thinking about websites before. Usability is an obvious thing to think about when using the web because there is nothing worse than trying to work your way through a poorly design website. I had mentioned in an earlier post that direct.gov was one of the worse site to navigate because the information you wanted was buried under a mountain of other information and had not clear links to the things you needed. To my delight though, I have just found out that direct.gov no longer exists and has been replaced with gov.uk, which at a quick glance seem to be a lot better. When it comes to accessibility thought, it’s never crossed my mind that a site may be difficult to navigate because of personal disabilities rather than the site under achieving a basic design principle. Now its been brought to my attention thought its kind of opened my eyes. Its made me look at website in a different way and question some of the design choices. I’ve seen a lot of website with white backgrounds and grey text, in fact my blog has just that and so does a lot of WordPress. Its made me question, is that easy to read? For me its fine but I have good vision, for someone with bad eyes is it easy for them? After thinking about it, I’m actually not too sure it would be. The colours blend together and gives a poor contrast. So I’ve taken the decision that from here on my text will be in solid black. This should give better contrast and make it much easier to read for all. I’ve also made the decision to make my own WordPress theme which will hopefully provide better contrast overall.
I’m going to be using this tutorial to help me do it, The ThemeShaper WordPress Theme Tutorial: 2nd Edition. The tutorial teaches you CSS and PHP, CSS I’m pretty new too and PHP I don’t really know at all, so this should be good for me and hopefully help me to learn something new.
Update: After publishing this post I sat back as far away from my computer as I could and tried to read what I had wrote. In comparison to my older posts, I found that the black text made it far easier to read. It may sound silly sitting away from your computer trying to read the screen but by doing this I proved that better contrast means better accessibility.