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Making websites accessible to more people without abandoning advanced features

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 by Servage

When we start web design, we have to think about the UIs at planning stage. Generally, we concentrate on our target audience, which we have defined it in our initial research. In most of the cases, our target audience comprises of vast demography, various cultures, different education levels, different abilities and so many various factors that make them altogether different from each other. Therefore, our persona is complex enough.

We have to design our UIs keeping this complex persona in mind and should make website accessible to all as well as empowering everyone equally to use it, irrespective to their skill level or familiarity. If we get good degree of success to combine accessibility and equal chances to use, we will have super product that will accessible to majority of users without leaving its advance features in due course.

If you ever have played Super Mario Bros game of 80’s era you would have seen that, its interface is equally empowering all users to get results according to their skill levels. In other words, new player will get results according to her efforts while advance users would have greater results according to her level. Interestingly game designer has done this without single instruction, guiding text or initial tutorials!

In this sense, Microsoft has designed MS word, which has simple user interface that allows any new user to start typing, and creating documents easily and at the same time advanced or experienced user can get advance features by exploring more. Unfortunately, when a research carried out that how many users were using these advance features the results were discouraging as they were only 5%means only 5% users were adjusting the default setting according to their choice and rest were working in default settings.. Thus, for sake of 5%, Microsoft has to spend lot of bucks behind R&D and innovations in software interface.

In contrast to this, Apple has taken wise step by unveiling iPhone, where hardware buttons were absent at all, and all users have plain canvas to draw their UIs with the help of iOS. This way Steve Jobs had allowed all users to use iPhone and at the same time empowered everyone to get UI control to draw UIs as per their level. Perhaps this is the reason that Apple is dominating the handheld devices market and Microsoft still is struggling for its place. However, iPhone or iPad is not perfect solution because Apple either has remove the features or hid them into the drill-down views so UI seems simple for each app, but doesn’t have abilities to satisfy the advance user as she wants more sophistication.

The ideal solution of this problem is in the adaptive interface designing in our website designing efforts. In this sense, we can say that the interface will be open for all kinds of users and will start with the primitive or fundamental features and will evolve along the evolution of the experiences of the users. In real life experience, we can say that an e-commerce website has primitive and simple navigation system to find a desire product while for experienced uses advance search features exist and act according to the user history collected in the personalization efforts. In simple words when a user frequently use that e-commerce site she will find advance search features and other UI elements set as per her preferences given in previous sessions.

In short, we are going towards this direction gradually and one day we will have all UIs of all software accessible to all without discouraging advance users giving them advance features as their advancement level evolves.

References:

Making websites accessible to more people without abandoning advanced features, 4.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
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