The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), and other laws forced companies to make their stores, marketing campaigns, and other aspects of their business more accessible to people with disabilities. Along the way, many brands realized that huge portions of their customer base benefit from such accommodations.
The understanding that people with permanent, temporary and situational challenges all benefit from design changes has fueled a transition from a focus on accessibility, where post-production accommodations are made based on the exception, to an embrace of inclusive design, a pre-planned intention to be more user-friendly toward everyone.
To engage a broader audience, consider incorporating these inclusive design best practices into your marketing campaign planning:
When designing your campaigns, consider the experience of people who are blind, color blind or have an eye injury. These techniques may also support those who work or read in bright or low-light environments. Here are a few ways to make your campaigns more visually accessible:
1. Use live text, which allows screen readers and voice assistants to read your text. It also lets people easily adjust the type size on their screen. Graphical text embedded in an image is much less user-friendly.
2. Use legible text. A font size of 14-18 point type is a good baseline, with headlines and subhead styles needing to be considerably more prominent.
3. Use alt text for images within your website, email, social and other digital campaigns to provide a plain text alternative to non-text content when images are turned off or if viewers use screen readers. If you have graphics containing offer text, use alt text to replicate the offer. Images used to set a mood, however, don’t need descriptive alt text.
4. Have a high color contrast for text. Black text on a white background is the easiest to read. It also adapts the best to dark mode. Be particularly wary of overlaying text on an image with lots of color variations. Use a contrast checker if you’re unsure.
5. Use calls-to-action that stand out by separating CTAs from surrounding text. Use bulletproof buttons instead of graphical buttons. And to make a text link CTA stand out, use color, bold, and/or underline, and consider including an arrow at the end of it.
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Make your campaigns more accessible to people who are deaf, people who have an ear infection or a ruptured eardrum, and people who are in loud environments or places where they can’t turn on audio — as well as many others. To do this …
6. Use captions on your videos. Replicate all dialogue — and perhaps key sound effects — with text captions. Also use captions for animated gifs, especially those that are providing snippets from videos.
To make your campaigns more accessible to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or memory impairments, those who have suffered a head injury, people who are tired or distracted, as well as many others, consider these options:
7. Use small content blocks. Fewer words and fewer paragraphs are better.
8. Space out your text and content blocks. Characters that are too close together can be challenging to read. Similarly, lines of text that are too long or not spaced far enough apart can be difficult to take in.
9. Make the purpose of a link clear by using clear and concise CTA language that describes what happens next. Avoid using vague CTAs like “click here.”
10. Organize your message with a logical sequence for the content. Have a clear and meaningful progression so it’s easy to understand.
11. Provide calendar reminders. If you’re asking people to tune in, attend or do anything in the future, link to a calendar reminder to help them remember.
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When designing your campaigns, consider making them more accessible to people who have tremors, have suffered a hand injury or have lost a hand. The changes you make will likely also improve the experience for people with only one hand free because they’re holding a baby, carrying a bag, or holding onto a subway pole, for example. To make your campaigns more accessible to those with motor limitations:
12. Avoid clustering CTAs. Create a better user experience by putting plenty of space between your links to avoid mis-taps.
13. Use full-width buttons on mobile. Regardless of whether a person is using their right or left hand, they should be able to easily click your CTAs.
These inclusive design best practices can be used to create more effective marketing campaigns that engage a more diverse audience, as well as deepen engagement with those who are already engaged.
Chad S. White is the author of Email Marketing Rules and Head of Research for Oracle Marketing Consulting, a global full-service digital marketing agency inside of Oracle.