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UX design and accessibility, and why it matters to museums

What's UX design?

UX design is a human centred design approach built around the journey a person takes from first engagement with a company or a product, to the point at which the engagement ends. It is at the heart of the development of creative technology. When your museum visitor looks for directions to your museum, opening hours, online collections, or events, they will use tools that rely on good UX design for optimal experience. That's where it connects!


Accessibility

Accessibility is at the core of inteface design and affects us all. But what's accessibility in the context of user experience? It is the ease with which any person regardless of ability and impairment can use a given interface or service. The Merriam-Webster defines as accessible something that is 'capable of being used or seen and easily used or accessed by people with disabilities' or 'adapted for use by people with disabilities'. Making museum experiences accessible is paramount to equitable access.


Why accessible design?

When we talk about accessibility in relation to design, we are talking about how to make a design/ experience accessible to everyone. Research and development of accessibility focused designs benefits everyone in society and allows for robust and effective interfaces. So while an accessible website or mobile app benefit disabled people, all visitors benefit from a good user experience when they're looking for opening hours, or researchers when they look for collections data. It increases engagagement and visitor retention for the museum in question.


Easy ways to get started

It can be overwhelming to know where to start, and how to incorporate Accessible UX design in your museum experience, so why not start small with your website and social media, and expand as your knowledge progresses. Start by adding Alt Text to all your images on social media. Alternative text provides additional information or description of an object on a photograph. A screen reader would be able to provide a description of the photograph to the user. It's an easy and effective way to enhance accessibility.


Inclusive exhibits and display

UX accessibility is not restricted to the digital world, and can be used to explore the user experience and journey in physical spaces. Using high contrast colours, clear fonts, large text sizes for signage and labels, providing manifying glasses or digital magnification options for visitors, including tactile elements for visitors, incorporating audio descriptions and captions for videos and multimedia exhibits, listening devices, minimising ambient noise levels, using concise and simple language and visual cues: those are all examples of Accessible UX design adapted for physical displays.

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