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Learning lessons about website usability

We’ve just launched a new website for NHS Suffolk and NE Essex Integrated Care Board. After every site launch we hold a post project review and ask ourselves:

  • what worked well for us and the client?
  • what didn’t work so well?
  • what lessons can we learn for our next project?

One of the main requirements for this project was easy accessibility by users with different abilities and varied personal requirements.

User testing is invaluable

Working with NHS stakeholder groups we conducted several rounds of user testing. This feedback helped us understand users’ experience of a current Clinical Commissioning Group website and how it could be improved. 

Working with a third-party accessibility tester, we applied this feedback to the design of the new site’s visuals, user experience and user interface. The site had to meet specific Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 Level A). 

Some major plugins fall short

As we learned more about accessibility requirements and coding best practices, we found that some major WordPress plugins fell below acceptable usability standards. 

For example, a well known filtering plugin outputs DIV elements for checkboxes that are neither semantically correct nor accessible by screen readers. It’s easily resolved by changing the DIVs to something more appropriate. We created Buttons that are easily identified by a screen reader and are keyboard accessible without additional ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes. 

Two obvious questions:

  • why not just output buttons in the first place? 
  • how many sites haven’t converted their page elements to accessible ones?

A poor experience deters repeat visits

This is certainly an issue for those affected by it. When compounded by other poor accessibility interface and content examples, it creates an extremely frustrating experience. One which users won’t be keen to repeat.

This project has been a valuable learning experience, not just from the point of coding and accessibility best practice. It also gave me a much greater understanding and appreciation of different user abilities. 

Read the detailed case study

You can read the full objective along with details on website features and their benefits in this case study.

You can view the finished live site here.

In a world that aims to be more inclusive, better accessibility is an imperative, not just a nice to have. We recommend designing and building sites with accessibility as a core priority from day one.

We enable as many people as possible to use your site with ease the way THEY want to.

Improve your site’s accessibility – call Fellowship on 01284 83088, or email darren@fellowship.agency