As a designer, programmer or any other part of the creative and scientific process of creating a digital design, you probably let out a groan when something like accessibility testing is brought up. Half the designers and coders I know will roll their eyes and claim things like this are babble used by analysts to confuse everyone and make things seem more complicated than they are.
Well, accessibility testing isn’t just nonsense, it’s an important part of ensuring that your design isn’t a broken piece of crap, in fact. And, while the term sounds, aesthetically, like a convoluted crock, it really isn’t complicated at its core.
Billions and Billions of Tactics:
This is where it becomes kind of complicated, but only if you let it. Models and approaches for testing usability and accessibility are a dime a dozen, ranging from what seems to me to be arcane rituals from a bygone and dark age, to common sense step by step analyses and human testing sessions.
Guess which ones are worth your time!
Accessibility in a Nutshell Definition:
So, we need to make sure we’re all on the same page as to what we mean by accessibility, don’t we? Conventionally, you think of just measures put into place to make it easier for the differently abled to use a design.
Well, that is a portion of it, and that is immensely important for ethical and practical reasons. So, I’m certainly not going to diminish that being a big part of it, and ergo that reflexive association is justified if unfairly limiting.
It also covers how tiresome it is to use repeatedly, how easy it is to go from one platform to another without having to shift a million mental gears, how compatible it is with average technology in the target demographic’s possession, and how quick it is to learn.
The Analytics and Metrics:
Well, that’s another spot where, if you let it, it can be confusing and complicated. But this does not need to be the case whatsoever. The issue here is that there are no hard analytics or metrics to work with in this particular topic, at least that have been unanimously accepted by experts.
So, this leaves you with soft analytics like speed with which customers learn to work a design without being instructed, how quickly it becomes natural, how long they can use it without being frustrated or tired, and other such things.
Where it gets into more set metrics is when it comes to benchmarking for platforms, which is borderline between usability and accessibility as to which category that falls into.
Most tests done are just various scales and transparencies of clinical trials. Simple as that.
So, accessibility testing is important, not just to help those with special needs, but for everyone to be able to use the design as well and as pleasantly as you envision them doing. It’s a simple concept once you get down to the brass tacks of it, and look at what the goals of this are. You can try any kind of testing you like, or design your own models, but you’re not going to find anything that works better (or as well) than plain old fashioned trials and recordings for this, at least for now.