User centred design, access user testing and the whole access journey

‘Access’ covers a wide range of meanings and requirements, and to us as developers it’s all about getting information to your users in a way that suits their needs. Surface Impression has been helping museums, galleries and heritage venues to increase access for over 20 years.

We start off working with our clients to establish what access means to them, and what the current experiences of their target audience are. We listen to clients and audiences to understand what we can do to improve their access.

Accessibility – getting started and getting inspired

We are passionate about access and have worked with disabled people to create, explore and audit websites and apps for the last 25 years. It’s been a time of massive change and we’ve learnt a lot along the way. Technology is finally catching up with what users need, and magnifiers and screen readers are now built in to smartphones and tablets so we can all adjust content to suit our own needs. However, at SI we know we can do so much more, so will carry on experimenting and pushing technology to work better for users with different access needs.

Approaches include:

  • Access user test – listen to your audience. Find out what access experiences work best for them. During development we test what works by asking the assistive technology users, and run access user testing and focus groups.
  • Experiment – we like pushing and challenging technology to make it as easy as possible for disabled users. We are creative about increasing access and don’t see limits in accessibility but scope to improve the experience for all.
  • User centred design – we work with access groups and individuals to ensure access is built in to our websites and apps from the start, through early wireframe design stages, interactive prototypes, user testing and launch. We review progress on the way to ensure we’re delivering the level of access that the audience wants.
  • Review the whole access journey – the digital projects we take on are usually part of a broader experience, and we look at them in the context of the user’s whole access journey and experience of that brand, to understand how to improve it.

Some examples of our work

History of Place: a website exploring 8 places that are significant in disabled people’s lives across 800 years of history.

House of Memories: the website for National Museums Liverpool’s award-winning dementia awareness training project.

VocalEyes: a website for the organisation that provides a nationwide audio description service for visually impaired people.

Creative Diversity Network (CDN): a website for the forum that promotes and celebrates good practice in diversity in the media.