WOZ – Die Wochenzeitung is an independent paper which counts 104’000 readers per week. Their website redesign was the occasion for WOZ to get closer to their users and aim to cater to their needs even better. With this goal in mind, they approached us to conduct user testings to define personas, and to support with the technical implementations.
It was during the testing process that we identified an element missing from the new website experience WOZ was creating for their users: accessibility.
Awareness of the importance of accessibility was high at WOZ. However, WOZ, like many others, struggled with the coherent application of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
After a quick assessment of WOZ’s website, we found relevant pain points which were not only inaccessible and breaking some of the four accessibility principles, but also harmful to their income.
How accessibility (or forgetting about it) can impact one’s business
The first pain point of the website was that the structure of the content itself was not accessible. Visually, the difference between titles, paragraphs of different importance, and captions was there, but the code behind the website did not break up the content in logical header sections. The lack of an underlying structure made it difficult to navigate the website for anyone using a screen reader if they for example wanted to jump from one heading to the next.
The second pain point was that users navigating with their keyboard only were unable to access all of the content. The donation box that WOZ, as an independent paper, relies on to collect funds could not be reached solely with the computer keys. This evidently represents a problem knowing that donations are a part of WOZ’s revenue stream.
Leveraging accessibility from the beginning
With no code having been written yet, we were able to build accessible code from the beginning.
First, we worked with the visual design created by WOZ’s team and built an HTML prototype which attributed a clear hierarchy to written, graphic and clickable elements. In a text-only document assembling all the content bits, we assessed the logic of the structure independently of the visual elements. Once the structure was understandable without visual elements, we supported the developers in the adding of aesthetics with a CSS layer.
In most cases, accessibility is treated as something to be added after “building” the design with code. This means that a nearly final product must be optimized, which requires labor-intensive and frustrating changes regarding visual design (such as colours) and code base. Hence, considering accessibility from the start reduces both time and work invested overall.
Accessibility stakeholders and opportunities.
Accessibility concerns more people than the WOZ readers. It also impacts developers, designers, business analysts, marketers, and fundraisers. It reshapes the way we think about audience, interaction, and information delivery from the very base. At WOZ, we were able to provide learnings for different parts of the team.
As we’ve seen, continuous inclusion of the end users is essential for shaping a reading experience that perfectly caters to their needs. Therefore, the next steps in our collaboration with WOZ will include the collection of feedback and polls from their readers, directly on-site.