9 Methods to Design Inclusive Content material

The writer’s views are completely his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and should not all the time replicate the views of Moz.

Inclusivity is a vital consideration for each enterprise proprietor and content material creator, and needs to be on the coronary heart of your ongoing design efforts — not one thing you have a look at after an internet site or piece of content material goes stay.

Earlier than we get to particular tips about creating this inclusive content material, let’s go over key definitions and ideas.

What’s inclusivity?

Inclusivity is about recognizing variety. It ensures everybody can take part to the best attainable extent. Different names for inclusivity embrace common design and design for all.

Inclusivity addresses a variety of points, together with:

  • Accessibility for individuals with disabilities

  • Entry to and high quality of web connectivity, pc {hardware}, and pc software program

  • Pc literacy and expertise

  • Financial circumstances

  • Schooling

  • Geographic location

  • Tradition

  • Age (older and youthful individuals)

  • Language

Understanding Usability, Accessibility, and Inclusivity

Purple icons on pink background: left, pointer finger clicking on something for usability; middle, wheelchair symbol for accessibility; right, globe symbol for inclusivity


In accordance with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a world requirements group that publishes tips and proposals for net applied sciences, “Usability is about designing merchandise to be efficient, environment friendly, and satisfying.”

Usability elements measure the performance of a product or design and the design interface’s ease of use. They assess how straightforward it’s for customers to be taught the fundamental duties of the interface, how shortly customers can carry out duties on the interface, and whether or not customers can bear in mind easy methods to carry out these duties after time away from the interface. Usability elements additionally take into account whether or not the design satisfies customers, and if there are errors within the interface, how extreme these errors are, and the convenience of recovering from these errors.

Take into consideration Google’s search web page design. When it first launched, it acquired appreciable backlash. This was an period when web customers wished their very own “house pages” or “net portals,” every presenting their favourite information and hyperlinks when the browser launched. However what did these portals all have in widespread? A search field. The truth that this easy (some nonetheless say ugly) design finally grew to become the homepage for billions of web customers speaks to the worth of simplicity and the way it permits inclusivity.


Designing with accessibility in mind means extra individuals will be capable to use a product, no matter their skills.

According to W3C, “Accessibility addresses discriminatory features associated to equal consumer expertise for individuals with disabilities. Internet accessibility signifies that individuals with disabilities can equally understand, perceive, navigate, and work together with web sites and instruments.”

In different phrases, all customers, no matter potential or circumstance, ought to be capable to:

  • Understand all interface or doc parts.

  • Function the controls simply and intuitively.

  • Perceive the content material.

  • Use completely different assistive applied sciences, units, browsers, and working methods to work together with the content material.

For instance, utilizing high-contrast colours in an app doesn’t simply assist individuals who have low imaginative and prescient or colour blindness, it additionally helps individuals who use their units in vivid daylight. Equally, whereas enhancements to usability, like utilizing easy language and intuitive design, might permit individuals with cognitive disabilities to make use of a services or products extra productively, they’re additionally useful for individuals who could also be busy or distracted, who’re studying the language, and even individuals with slower web entry, as a result of easy and intuitive websites could also be quicker to load.

Further useful resource: Accessibility Principles, W3C


Inclusivity means representing individuals who have, till now, been underrepresented. Inclusivity points have an effect on individuals from particular populations inside a group, in addition to communities which have been denied the chance to take part absolutely in financial, social, or civic life.

Inclusive content material ought to all the time acknowledge variety within the useful wants and skills of people. To make your content material inclusive, consider peoples’ various skills, guaranteeing your content material might be accessed in a variety of ways.

Inclusive content material must also embody variety in private wants and experiences. We should always all problem ourselves to do higher at together with completely different communities, identities, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, skills, cultures, and beliefs. We should take steps to keep away from “othering” individuals. By guaranteeing that everybody feels welcome in our digital areas, we will extra precisely symbolize the world we stay in.

Further useful resource: What is Inclusivity?, Variety for Social Influence

Why inclusivity is essential

Historical past has taught us concerning the struggles for fairness and inclusion globally. Wars have been fought over human rights and the rights of enslaved peoples. Girls have protested for suffrage. Individuals of colour have lengthy fought for civil rights, and lately the Black Lives Matter motion has highlighted systemic inequalities and the necessity for social justice. The Homosexual Revolution has sought to realize equal rights for homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Indigenous individuals have struggled to achieve equality and obtain significant reconciliation for the abuse and mistreatment suffered by the hands of governments. And the Incapacity Rights Motion has labored to alter attitudes, promote integration, and be sure that all individuals, no matter potential, have equal entry to transportation, housing, schooling, and employment alternatives.

Whereas academic methods do train us about these points, they usually current them as discrete occasions which have little actual connection to the “dominant” society. Consequently, most individuals usually are not snug talking or writing about them. We merely would not have the vocabulary.

By making empathy an important a part of inclusion, enterprise homeowners and content material creators can enhance their viewers communications, construct belief, and develop networks. Assembly the useful wants of all customers creates a greater fame and improved word-of-mouth in additional communities.

9 methods to design inclusive content material

Purple icons in white boxes on pink background representing the following nine tips.

Inclusive design ought to all the time meet the wants of as many customers as attainable. Use the next inclusive digital content material ideas when creating web sites, cell apps, e-mail, and paperwork.

1. Assess factors of bias in your content material and design practices.

Does your content material default to the pronoun “he,” or does it make equal use of “she” and “they”? Assessment your textual content content material, inventory images, and illustrations. Take a look at each digital and printed supplies geared toward inner and exterior audiences. Do they characteristic largely white, male, straight, non-disabled individuals? If that’s the case, it’s time to change up the terminology and create a brand new aesthetic – one with extra variety.

Further assets:

Resources for Eliminating Bias in Design, UX Sales space

The Bias Blind Spot and Unconscious Bias in Design, Interplay Design Basis

2. Use clear, easy, and considerate language.

Assessment phrases by the lens of inclusivity. Establish and take away all cases of othering and ableism. This boils all the way down to respect. Keep away from collective phrases and labels, equivalent to “females” or “the blind,” that group people right into a class that promotes objectification. All the time bear in mind a person’s incapacity, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, or heritage is only a single side of their distinctive and complicated id.


A incapacity is one thing that an individual has. It isn’t who they are. Use “individual with [a disability]” or “one that has [a disability].” Put the individual on the forefront. For instance, say “an individual who’s blind,” not “a blind individual.”

Many individuals with disabilities choose people-first language. Nevertheless, there are additionally individuals with disabilities preferring identity-first language, and you will need to respect this desire and provides each individual the self-determination to decide on. By no means right somebody who refers to themselves utilizing identity-first language. For instance, don’t right or change the reference when somebody calls themselves a “blind individual” versus “an individual who’s blind.”

Keep away from any language that means pity or hopelessness, or that disempowers individuals with disabilities, equivalent to “suffers” or “sufferer.” Keep away from phrases like “courageous” or “brave,” as these phrases can belittle or trivialize individuals with disabilities.


The male-dominated cultures of North America and Europe have created a biased vocabulary that needs to be adjusted for inclusion. It is not uncommon, for instance, to confer with teams of individuals as “guys,” even when the group contains each women and men. Grownup girls are sometimes “women,” however grownup males are not often “boys.” Then there are the outdated phrases and phrases which have turn into problematic, equivalent to “manpower,” “man-hours,” “man the controls,” or “man up.” Substitute these phrases with “workforce,” “hours,” “take the controls,” or “step up.”

What must you do for those who’re undecided easy methods to tackle somebody? Use the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/their when assembly somebody for the primary time. Right here’s an inclusive method to introduce your self, “I confer with myself as (she/her), what pronouns do you like?” or “My pronouns are (they/them), what pronouns do you utilize?”

Race and ethnicity

Similar to the vocabulary of gender, phrases related to race, ethnicity, nationality, and heritage have been debated over vigorously lately. A central a part of inclusion is adopting phrases which can be trustworthy and respectful and being illiberal of phrases which can be disrespectful. Historic bias has permeated our tradition, and in consequence, problematic terminology as soon as used to explain people who find themselves not white has been utilized to many alternative areas of life, together with expertise (whitelist/blacklist, grasp/slave units). All the time tackle individuals’s ethnicity, nationality, or heritage respectfully and with out irony, racism, or satire.

Further assets:

Diverse Abilities and Barriers, W3C

Inclusive Language Guidelines, APA

Gender Equality and Inclusivity, CSHA

3. Use responsive design that permits zoom and orientation adjustments.

Responsive design permits net content material layouts to show nicely on many kind elements, utilizing “breakpoints” to outline completely different widths. Generally app makers lock orientation or flip off the zoom potential. These are fundamental instruments that all of us want occasionally. As a substitute of disabling them, design apps to accommodate them.

Listed below are a couple of responsive design and accessibility tips:

  • Use hyperlink textual content that describes the hyperlink vacation spot.

  • Write significant and descriptive alt textual content.

  • Use semantic HTML – tags that clearly describe the aim of web page parts, equivalent to <header>, <article>, <apart>, or <footer>.

  • As a substitute of fastened or absolute font sizes, use relative models for font sizes, equivalent to proportion models, viewport width, or viewport peak.

  • Label all buttons and fields.

Utilizing responsive design and accessibility tips makes it simpler for serps to crawl and interpret web sites. For instance, websites with clear, descriptive headings – the identical sorts of headings that additionally make navigation and comprehension simpler for individuals for disabilities – are higher optimized for serps to do their work.

Due to this, Google rewards accessibility when rating web sites. In truth, their Webmaster Guidelines – which lay out the most effective practices that assist Google to seek out, index, and rank your website – learn very very similar to accessibility tips, and sometimes correlate instantly with the W3C’s Internet Content material Accessibility Tips (WCAG).

By utilizing accessible design, you’re concurrently enhancing the on-page expertise, making your content material extra accessible to customers with disabilities, and facilitating the work of search engine bots who’re busy crawling, indexing your website, and assessing hyperlink fairness between pages – all of which assist enhance your web optimization rating.

Further assets:

Responsive Design, Mozilla

How to Design a Large Scale Responsive Site, UX Sales space

An Introduction to Accessibility and SEO, Moz

4. Make the most of free assets.

Use freely out there Microsoft, Apple, and Android accessibility attributes and accessibility check apps when growing paperwork, net content material, or apps.

Testing is an integral a part of growing accessible and inclusive digital content material. Thankfully, tech corporations have created a variety of instruments and assets to assist guarantee your paperwork, web sites, and apps might be accessed simply by all customers. For instance, Microsoft Workplace purposes – Phrase, PowerPoint, or Excel – have the Verify Accessibility characteristic, which resides within the Assessment menu. From there, you may select the ‘Verify Accessibility’ button and observe the directions to take away accessibility issues, rechecking as you go till all points have been addressed.

An example of the check accessibility function in PowerPoint.

Further assets:

Design for Inclusivity, Microsoft Design

Accessibility for Developers, Apple

Developing for Accessibility, Google

9 Best WordPress Accessibility Plugins for 2022, HubSpot

5. Construction paperwork utilizing headings.

Use easy, hierarchical headings to prepare paperwork, net pages, or emails. This permits all customers and their expertise to interpret the principle concepts of the content material and discover the data they’re searching for. Graphics needs to be secondary and may by no means include essential data. Present equal options for any picture that accommodates textual content.

Additionally make sure to embrace a hyperlink to the online model of any HTML message proper on prime, in case of e-mail consumer points with format or graphics. When you’re utilizing HTML messages, then observe fundamental, semantic HTML greatest practices. E-mail is the one expertise the place tables for format remains to be acceptable, however even there, CSS is now most popular.

Consider your content material with out graphics or with the graphics turned off. This can guarantee your content material might be accessed on low-fi units, over dangerous connections, or by a display reader.

Further assets:

Web Accessibility – Headings, Yale College

Page Structure – Content Structure, W3C

6. Present textual content options for non-text parts, equivalent to photographs and varieties.

Purple mountain icon in white box on pink background next to an example alt text tag for the same image.

Use easy, descriptive language as alt textual content for photographs. If the picture serves a selected perform, the alt textual content ought to clarify what that perform is and describe the contents of the picture. The purpose is to make sure that everybody has entry to the identical details about the picture.

If the picture accommodates a chart or graph, the alt textual content ought to embrace the info. When you’re utilizing a inventive photograph or a photograph as an illustration, the alt textual content ought to describe the weather of the picture intimately.

If the doc or content material contains photographs that aren’t essential, are used for format, or don’t serve a selected perform, use null alt textual content (alt=“”). This can hold them hidden from assistive applied sciences.

Labels for kind fields and choices are additionally areas the place inclusion and accessibility needs to be addressed. Each discipline and button ought to have a label, written in plain language. If button labels have icons or photographs, the alt textual content ought to describe the perform of the button, slightly than its look.

When creating contact varieties, label all fields visibly. Embody formatting hints to cut back errors. When you use a placeholder, be sure that it stays seen.

Further assets:

The Ins and Outs of Image Accessibility Standards, AudioEye

Alternative Text, Accessible Social

7. Make the most of freely out there accessibility checkers.

A screenshot of the AudioEye accessibility dashboard.

Verify your content material repeatedly to maintain it inclusive and accessible. Each time you make adjustments to your web site, you run a threat of constructing content material inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. This is the reason ongoing monitoring is essential. 

AudioEye, a digital accessibility platform, provides Energetic Monitoring to assist website homeowners hold their content material accessible and inclusive. It checks for accessibility points each time a website customer masses a brand new web page, and additionally checks for brand spanking new accessibility points, gathering data throughout all customers and pages, after which mechanically fixes nearly all of widespread errors. The platform shows all accessibility points discovered and glued in an Subject Reporting dashboard (pictured above), together with particulars on how these points have an effect on customers with disabilities and easy methods to repair unresolved points that require guide intervention. You can begin by making an attempt AudioEye’s Accessibility Checker.

Further assets:

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List, W3C

Testing and Checking Content, Accessible Social

8. Verify your colour scheme.

The eyedropper color selection icon in purple and white on a pink background.

Assess the colour scheme for distinction and distinction. White textual content on a black background is excessive distinction, whereas white textual content on a pale blue background is low distinction. Many individuals with visible disabilities depend on excessive colour distinction to view digital content material. And since visible acuity and the power to tell apart colours additionally fade with age, excessive colour distinction ensures older customers can entry your content material.

Widespread colour selections, equivalent to buttons coloured purple and inexperienced, could make content material inaccessible to individuals with colour blindness, which affects 13 million Americans and 350 million people worldwide.

Further assets:

What is Color Contrast and Why Does it Matter For Website Accessibility?, AudioEye

Deuteranopia – Red-Green Color Blindness, Colblindor

Color Contrast Checker, AudioEye

9. Make social media posts accessible.

Social media is used to convey messages or concepts shortly, often in only a line or two of textual content, utilizing a single picture or a brief video. To satisfy accessibility necessities for social media, be sure that all photographs and video clips are described intimately. Embody voiceovers, narration, and music lyrics within the description. Don’t neglect to incorporate the emotion the topic could also be making an attempt to evoke. This additionally helps low-bandwidth customers take part in social media. Please see an instance beneath.

Screenshot of a Knowbility instagram post on how to make the internet more accessible.

Assess the solid of your movies. Do they characteristic largely white males? Search for methods to characteristic a broad cross-section of society, together with completely different genders, individuals of various ethnicities, and folks with disabilities.

Emojis make social media posts enjoyable, however they will additionally pose issues for individuals who can’t see them. As a result of display readers use phrases to explain the emoji, a collection of smiley faces and hearts added in the midst of an Instagram caption turns into “grinning face, smiling face with smiling eyes, smiling face with heart-eyes, purple coronary heart, purple coronary heart, purple coronary heart.” Restrict your emojis to 2 or three, and put them on the finish of your textual content, in order that they don’t get in the way in which of the data within the put up.

Hashtags are an important a part of social media posts: highlighting key phrases and phrases with # makes it straightforward for customers to seek out posts. Making hashtags accessible is straightforward: capitalize the primary letter of every phrase within the hashtag (also referred to as CamelCase). That helps display readers separate the phrases accurately (#SuperBowl, not #SuperbOwl) and to say them as phrases, slightly than as separate letters.

Further assets:

How to Make Your Social Media Content More Accessible, Western Oregon College

6 Ways to Make Your Social Media Posts More Accessible, Flagship Social

Hashtags, Accessible Social

List of Emojis, Emojipedia

Designing inclusive content material is an ongoing effort.

As you begin making use of these greatest practices, do not forget that constructing accessible, inclusive, and usable content material takes dedication and steady enchancment. Ask your website guests and prospects for suggestions frequently. Decide the proper instruments to make your efforts extra sustainable and efficient.

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