accessibility design

12 Tips For Creating Accessible Websites

By Sandra Ciminelli – Web Designer/Developer

12 Tips For Creating Accessible Websites

As fate would have it, my husband embarked on an exciting journey coaching an All Abilities Touch Football team in Canberra. This sparked a newfound passion within me to explore innovative ways to enhance the accessibility of my website to make it even more inclusive for the neurodiverse population. Most of us think that making a website accessible is about catering to those with physical impairments by devising easily discernible font and color combinations. However, becoming inclusive also means taking neurodiversity into account when designing an easy to use website. By considering the cognitive impairments that affect our neurodivergent population, with things such as ADHD, we can create a more inclusive digital space that empowers and inspires all individuals to navigate our website with ease. Let us embrace inclusivity and strive to create a world where everyone feels welcome and valued. In this post, we will focus on how to design better for ADHD and below I will outline the principles for accessibility design further along the page.

A Focus On Designing For ADHD

The objective of any web page is to engage and captivate their audience to generate leads or make sales. That’s precisely why we need to be all inclusive, particularly when designing for someone with a cognitive impairment such as ADHD.

An intuitive and well thought out design makes a huge difference in the way a person living with ADHD or Dyslexia for example, interacts with a website based on how their cognitive processes work. In the next paragraph I explain how designing a website to be more accessible for a person with ADHD makes a huge difference to their lives and to your business. However, its impossible to build a website to accommodate every individual user perfectly, we can follow the best practice guidelines and world wide standards for digital accessibility provided by the WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provided further down the page.

What is ADHD?

ADHD as it is commonly know, is a common  neurodevelopmental disorder also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  Children and adults alike may be diagnosed with ADHD. A large number of the Australian population live with the disorder, for which treatment is available. Some Of The Most Common Symptoms of ADHD Are:

  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Excessive talking
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Impulsiveness – acting out without thinking
  • Difficulty organising tasks
  • Constantly changing from one task or job to another

How Accessible Design Makes A Difference To An ADHD User

Decision making without an easy to to follow website may be paralysing for someone with ADHD. This means that they’ll make no decision and move on rather quickly to avoid the overwhelm and anxity that comes with repeating the same mistakes over and over again, So, if your web pages prove difficult to follow or have hugely distracting and overstimulating content, such as auto video, clutter, small fonts or sound playing in the background, you’ve potentially lost a client with a cognitive impairment such as ADHD. Below is a list of what you can do to design in a more accessible way for ADHD users to minimise confusion and frustration. Use this list to see if your existing website provides a pleasant experience for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD. 12 Tips On How To Design For ADHD – KEEP IT SIMPLE & USER FRIENDLY

  1. Implement minimalistic, uncluttered clean layout and predictable web page design with clear and concise content.
  2. Use larger sans-serif fonts that are easy to see and read. Heading fonts to be 20% larger than the rest of your text and space fonts out so that they are overlapping, but at the same time avoid spacing them too widely
  3. Avoid using popups. They can be hugely distracting and overwhelming
  4. Add a clearly defined call to action that stands out in an obvious location on the page.
  5. Make your website easy to understand..
  6. Simple navigation menu layout.
  7. Add links to images and use labels for user input with instructions.
  8. Avoid adding autoplay video.
  9. Remove time constraints by giving the user control over anything animated with a stop, pause or hide functionality.
  10. Offer audio formats or infographics where possible.
  11. Have a 404 error page redirect in place with a message and clear call to action.
  12. Create Intuitive web forms.

So what makes a website more accessible?

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web Below Are The Guidelines For Understanding The Four Principles Of Accessibility

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (an extract from the original content) “The guidelines and Success Criteria are organized around the following four principles, which lay the foundation necessary for anyone to access and use Web content. Anyone who wants to use the Web must have content that is:

  1. Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses)
  2. Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable. This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
  3. Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding).
  4. Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)

If any of these are not true, users with disabilities will not be able to use the Web” In conclusion, when designing a website for inclusivity, it simply equates to easy access for all, which speeds up the customer’s journey to improve sales and increase engaged interactions with your website. As web designers, we have the power to create truly inclusive digital experiences. Let us not only consider the needs of those with physical impairments, but also strive to make navigation a breeze for all who visit our websites. With a focus on cognitive accessibility, we have the opportunity to design websites that benefit every user.

Let us embrace the challenge of designing for “All abilities” and pave the way for a more inclusive digital landscape.

Together, we can make a difference.


W3C – Web Accessibility Initiative – Understanding the Four Principles of Accessibility Verndale – Website Design Trends For Dyslexia and ADHD Bureau of Internet Accessibility – Why Autoplay is an Accessibility No-No   How To Make Websites More Accessible To People With ADHD

Sandra at ACT Websites Canberra
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I’m Sandra Ciminelli
Canberra based WordPress Web Designer/Developer

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