A community driven website
There’s certainly lots to consider when creating a truly accessible website – from ensuring that the site is navigable without a mouse and can be read by screen readers to selecting colours and font sizes which are clear and easy to read. We embraced the challenge by putting user experience at the heart of the design and build process – constantly checking that the solutions we came up with were accessible and appropriate.
Involving the real audience of the site in the design process from the very start helped us to understand their needs and develop appropriate solutions. At the beginning of the project, we collected the group’s ideas about what they wanted from the website via a user workshop. We used this detail to supplement the client’s brief and our own ideas to develop the site structure and wireframes.
We held workshops throughout the process to hone our work and ensure at all stages the progress was matching back to what users wanted and needed. Feedback became increasingly specific and guided our decision making on features and functionality. One example of a useful feature the group highlighted was the need for multiple input methods on the site rather than just type. Off the back of this, we developed the functionality to use voice, video, sketch as well as type input for commenting. See our blog article, Let everyone join the conversation for more detail on this feature.
When you add this to the usual considerations when building a website of all the functionality you’d like, as well as making sure the brand is clearly and coherently represented it might have seemed like an impossible task – but we relished the challenge.
Accessibility wasn’t just about the practicalities of making sure users could engage with the website – it was also about creating a space which felt safe and secure for people who might be feeling vulnerable to find others in their community who enjoy similar things, or could empathise with their experiences. We were keen to develop something that was community-led to give a real sense of ownership over the project. For this reason, all content posted to the site (stories, posts, events, groups) are done so by members of the community – Barnwood Trust have a very minimal role in developing actual content but instead have an active role in gathering feedback from the community to allow us to shape the website – allowing it to evolve as different needs and requirements become apparent.