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Five tips to create accessible native mobile apps


Five tips to create accessible apps

As the global pandemic continues accelerating the digital transformation, companies are increasingly turning to mobile apps as a way to connect. Good brands are adopting apps to personalize and deepen customer engagement. But the best brands produce accessible apps, so users of all abilities can use them. 

person using cell phone

What do we mean by accessible? When an individual has a disability, such as a vision impairment, they rely on an assistive technology to navigate the digital experience. In the case of an accessible app, a screen reader or voice over would communicate the on-screen information to the blind user, narrating through the menu, describing photos of products, and helping guide the user seamlessly through the checkout process (For more, access a demo of a user who is blind navigate an accessible app; request our on-demand webinar Mobile Commerce + Accessibility).

In order for users with disabilities or impairments  to successfully interact with the app experience, it must be designed and developed with accessibility in mind. If it isn’t, this user is likely to leave your app and move on to the competition. 

The business case for accessible apps

Individuals with disabilities represent approximately 26% of the U.S. adult population. Serve their needs, and you’re maximizing your market reach. Apps are also excellent at enhancing customer loyalty. They outperform mobile web, they’re faster for the user, and they create a familiar and personalized journey, all helping convert occasional customers into devoted customers who prioritize your brand. 

But there are challenges when it comes to building accessible apps:

  • iOS versus Android: both provide a decent framework for accessibility, but it’s important to understand the features of each platform and accommodate them independently. 
  • Where to begin: much of the guidance available applies to web-based environments, not necessarily digital products. It can be tough to educate yourself and know where to turn for help.
  • Internal expertise: educating internal teams about accessible design and code takes time. And it takes even longer to learn proper testing and evaluation techniques.

Five tips to improve app accessibility

We spent time with the head of product accessibility from app platform poq commerce, Chris Long. He’s suggested five tips to immediately improve the accessibility of your native apps:

  1. Build natively and think about accessibility early and often. Consider familiar interface patterns for both iOS and Android and develop accordingly. 
  2. Use components correctly – as intended. Oftentimes a component is selected because of a preferred design style. If not used correctly, it can interfere with the logical flow necessary for accessibility considerations.
  3. Pay attention to color contrast. Brand styles may dictate color combinations that don’t convey enough contrast for users with low vision or color blindness. Slight modifications can keep your colors true to the brand and ensure they serve every user. 
  4. Describe your content. Whether images, buttons or form fields, make sure you have proper descriptions. This is especially critical when an individual who is blind is shopping on your app. 
  5. Test, test, test. One single failure in a flow can break the entire user flow. Test your features and your customer journeys. For example, ensure users of various abilities can select a product and complete the entire checkout flow. 

According to Chris, “If you’re going through the trouble of building an app, it makes smart business sense to make it accessible. It will provide the best possible user experience for the largest possible audience.” 

Align with an accessibility partner

Accessibility is an ongoing journey. Online content changes frequently, which can regularly introduce new barriers for users with disabilities. Building your app on the poq commerce platform provides an accessible foundation, already giving you a competitive advantage. And as you customize your app, eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s software + services solution can ensure your features and flows remain accessible through every product release. 

Request our on-demand demo: Mobile Commerce + Accessibility.  

Want more when it comes to apps and accessibility? Request our on-demand webinar, which includes a demo of a user who is blind interacting with an accessible app.

Or, to request a demo of the eSSENTIAL Accessibility solution, reach out to our team today. 

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