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Mobile Marketing

10 Ways to Make Your Mobile App Accessible

Deniz Taşyürek
November 28, 2022

Mobile app accessibility is required to make your app highly usable for people with disabilities who may want to access it. Mobile website accessibility and other digital forms of accessibility are equally important to maximize usage and include people with all types of disabilities. Otherwise, you’re severely restricting your app’s audience.

What Is Mobile App Accessibility?

Through mobile application accessibility, you can ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to use each of your app’s features as intended, without certain hindrances that might otherwise affect their experience. You can facilitate mobile app accessibility by carefully designing your app’s user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) to accommodate certain types of disabilities.

There are certain differences between mobile app accessibility and mobile web accessibility, but website and mobile app accessibility testing can create an entirely user-friendly experience for brands across all digital platforms. It’s important to consider certain native mobile app accessibility guidelines when designing apps to include disabled audiences, some of which may apply to both websites and apps. Mobile apps aren’t automatically accessible to all users, making it necessary for mobile phones to also feature accessibility characteristics.

Also, surveys reveal that people spend as much as 90% of their time on mobile devices using native apps, making it critical for app owners to offer sufficient accessibility to all prospective users.

One of the best ways to ensure your mobile app is accessible is to follow either Apple’s accessibility guidelines or the Android Accessibility Guide, along with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), depending on which platforms you want to use. To further help you optimize your app for users with disabilities, we’ll go over some specific strategies you can implement.

How to Make an App Accessible

There are many ways you can increase your app’s accessibility for all users, which will help maximize your user base while also improving your brand’s reputation. If you can take the time and put in the effort to make your app as accessible as possible, you’ll show that you value the user experience, regardless of the user’s ability.

To help you increase app accessibility, the following are some steps you can take.

1. Make Sure Your Content Is Simple and the Layout Is Easy to Understand

The very first step should involve making sure your app’s content is highly readable and easy to understand for all users. This entails writing content that’s highly conversational, concise, and clear. Additionally, you should make sure your content features large font sizes and strong brightness contrasts to ensure it stands out.

Your layout also needs to be simple to understand and access, with clear buttons and other clickable content that eliminate any confusion as to what performs which action. Layouts and content must also feature consistent formatting, which can further prevent confusion for users with cognitive limitations.

2. Design a Consistent Navigation

In addition to simple content and layouts, your app should feature consistent navigation throughout. Make sure people know how to access each page of your app, along with how to return to the homepage. Use basic icons that most people can grasp, and use designs that clearly indicate where people are at all times so they can get where they want to go.

3. Use Button Labels

Labels describe elements that appear on a user’s screen or include a brief message. Labels for buttons should be legible and include either styled or plain text. Depending on the platform you use, you can also make labels dynamic to ensure they’re consistently readable if a user changes their device’s font size. Ultimately, labels will help further indicate the functionality of app buttons to help users understand precisely what they do.

4. Use Screen Reading Tools

To convert text to audio for blind users, screen readers are essential. However, to get the most from these tools, you must use them properly.

To get the most from screen reader tools for mobile app accessibility, make sure input fields are read in a logical order, with an in-depth, easy-to-understand description for each field. Make sure your screen reader can describe all images, sliders, buttons, and other items appearing on the screen, and practice care when selecting special characters and acronyms to enable the reader to correctly translate them.

5. Make Audio and Video Accessible

If your app includes audio and video content, this media should also be consistently accessible. Think of specific ways to make sure that both blind and deaf viewers can interact with your audio-visual media. For example, you can include subtitles with audio content and captions for video content such as shoppable videos. Video content could also include additional audio content that describes what’s taking place within the video. In addition, you can add plenty of control options for video content, including the ability to use full-screen or windowed views, pause and stop buttons, and volume controls.

Another way to use audio to improve accessibility is to use sound to communicate when something on the screen has changed. For instance, if a user enters the wrong password on a login screen, a clear error sound could chime to indicate that the password is incorrect. When users press certain buttons, a “ding” or another sound could indicate that the app has changed screens.

6. Allow for Customizable Themes and Text

While many devices enable users to change themes and text that apply to various apps, you can also allow for customization in your app. This will help visually-impaired and colorblind users by giving them the ability to change backgrounds, text, and other aspects of the visual experience. Additionally, make sure this feature is easy to locate in your app’s settings, which ties into making your app’s layout and navigation simple and consistent.

mobile app accessibility

7. Use Descriptive Language

Another way to increase mobile accessibility is to use highly descriptive language for app content. While it’s important to keep content concise and legible, you can use language that makes it resoundingly clear what each feature and functionality does. Again, this will eliminate any potential confusion at any point when people are using your app.

8. Add Image Alt-text

Many people may overlook image alt-text, but this feature is crucial to include. Blind or visually-impaired users won’t be able to clearly see certain images, which is where alt-text comes into play. This is particularly helpful for people when searching for an image and they want to know what the image contains. Alt-text is text that describes what specifically is in an image, including certain objects and actions being performed. It’s similar to a caption, but it’s typically more descriptive and isn’t visible to traditional users. Screen readers can then read this text out loud to give users a clear understanding of the image contents.

In addition to assisting with accessibility, image alt-text comes with certain search engine optimization benefits as it gives context for images to search engine crawlers.

9. Carefully Consider Color

In an effort to make your UI as attractive as possible to keep users engaged, you need to consider your app’s color palette. While you should consider contrast and other elements for color-blind users, you’ll also want to make sure that colors clearly indicate features in your app. One way to determine how to optimize colors in your app is to look at WCAG for mobile apps, which has specific standards in place. For example, according to WCAG 2.0 for mobile apps, text should have a 4.5:1 contrast ratio, which ensures that colors are easy to distinguish from one another while giving users a consistent theme.

Good contrast can also accommodate different user preferences when it comes to light levels, glare, and other settings.

10. Test Your App's Accessibility

You can use accessibility testing tools for mobile apps to gauge how well-optimized your app is for all users. Based on your app’s performance, you can make any necessary tweaks to increase accessibility.

Like other types of content, you can also use A/B split testing to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. If you don’t share the same disabilities as certain users, it’s important to test various elements such as colors, text, video, and audio to help confirm whether the in-app experience is equally accessible for everyone. Through A/B testing, you can try two different sets of design options, such as themes or colors for colorblind users, and determine which performs best. You can then stick with the option that appeals most to these users.

Continual testing of these elements will allow for continual improvement of your app as you attempt to broaden your audience.

Reap the Rewards of WCAG for Mobile Apps

Mobile app accessibility is vital for its success among all possible audiences. There are many users with disabilities who should enjoy the same experience as other users, which is why you should make sure your app is useful for these audiences. In turn, you’ll benefit from certain financial, moral, and legal advantages that accessibility has to offer.

Deniz Taşyürek

Content & Brand Marketing Strategist at Storyly. Writes about mobile user behavior, user engagement, and retention. A genuine Potterhead. She also loves succulents, cats, and aerial yoga.

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