Accessibility – hidden needs
Author: Gustav Lundin, Product Specialist and Bizview Academy Coach
When defining requirements in the process of ordering a new system or solution, much focus is placed on functionality and processes. Design features are also often taken into account, however most of these requirements are accounted for in a general manner. From time to time personal needs do arise, in this paper I will walk through some more unusual requirements and inspire you to think more about detailed design requirements, ranging from accessibility concerns to smart role-based viewing modes in reports and forms.
In recent years accessibility has become a hot topic regarding our everyday lives as well as our online lives and workplaces, even to the degree that it is accounted for in the algorithms that define how well your web pages will be rated by modern search engines. Designing a planning or reporting solution may not require you to consider search engine optimization but just as well there are several reasons for search engines to value this aspect as much as they do.
Taking accessibility into account from the beginning may just save you or your end users a headache down the road, whether it be figurative or literal.
Recently I came across a task to design a solution that required me to consider that one of the end users was colorblind. For most colorblind people, blue and yellow colors as well as high contrasts between colors (light vs dark) will be easier to distinguish. In general, it is recommended to avoid combining red, green, yellow or orange. When my client saw my first draft of the solution and immediately mentioned that its design would probably be considered cluttered, I had no idea why at first. As the client explained the situation, I realized I had been designing the solution almost monochromatically in shades of green using orange highlights.
With almost 5% of the world’s population having some degree of colorblindness, it may be an important thing to consider when specifying the requirements for your solutions, chances are that someone who is going to look at your report will have a hard time getting a good overview.
Not too long ago my colleague wrote an article on user-friendly design, where he disclosed several good tips on how to maximize the end users’ possibility to interpret their forms and reports. Another colleague previously gave some practical tips on how we design reports and forms with what we call view tags. These tips, tricks and tools will get you far regarding accessibility, as they are also helpful when considering the aspect ratio of end users’ screens as well as their level of zoom. Aspect ratios is also a staple variable to consider when designing applications for mobile devices.
As a designer one is often very used to the environment and could probably navigate it OK while blindfolded, enabling us to work with very low level of detail to ensure as large and over viewable work space as possible. But I cannot stress less, the importance to occasionally check what your design looks like from a closer end user perspective.
Most of us commonly use some sort of combination of keyboard and mouse to navigate our digital environments. Some first movers are already in good way to using virtual reality, eye control devices and more commonly touch screens and the like for their every day. To others the tools of choice is simply not as big of a choice.
For people with physical impairments most alternative input devices connect to the functionality of a keyboard in one way or another, being able to navigate the solution without access to a mouse is even more important and a modern application needs to be able to cater to these requirements. In Bizview you even have some options on how to set up navigation within forms and reports such as the direction of a selection when pressing the ENTER and TAB-buttons in end user reports and budget input forms.
5. Processes and instructions
A common issue that I think all workplaces experience at times, is system and process instructions being cluttered, unclear or outdated in one way or another. With the aspect of accessibility, we can take it one step further and cater this reminder to cognitive disabilities such as attention deficits or simply being prone to different ways of taking in information as we are all different in that aspect.
I’ve seen everything from perfectly structured 100-page word documentations to 50+ page PowerPoint presentations; instructional videos as well as intricate process maps with workflows and use case descriptions.
The one thing many have in common is that they are out of date as soon as a new business object is introduced, or a new area of business is defined. A general tip if you follow down the rabbit hole of accessibility is simply to set up templates for different parts of instructions (i.e. Business processes, template instructions, system administration etc.) and different kinds of instructions (i.e. PowerPoints, Workflows, Use Cases, Videos etc.) … In fact, set up templates for everything, the more dynamic you make a solution the less administration is needed and more focus can be dedicated to developing and using the system.
Author: Gustav Lundin, Bizview Product Specialist and Bizview Academy Coach