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a11y

‘a11y’ is a numeronym for the word ‘accessibility’.

A numeronym is a word where a number is used to form an abbreviation.

There are 13 letters in the word ‘accessibility’. Beginning with an ‘a’, followed by 11 letters, then ending with ‘y’, therefore ‘a11y’.

Related:

Web accessibility #a11yTO

#a11yTO (#a11y Toronto)

#a11yTO, or A11y Toronto, is a meetup group and volunteer organization that brings together designers, developers, and other accessibility advocates to discuss best practices and case studies, and educate people new to accessibility on how to get started. Their programs also include a series of conferences, most notably #a11yTO Camp in the spring, and #a11yWeekTO every October.

Related:

Web accessibility a11y

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is the legislation that defines accessibility standards at the federal level in the United States. ADA is also based on WCAG 2.0 standards. If you’re an organization based in the United States, it’s important to comply with these standards to avoid legal action under ADA or section 508 (defined below).

Related:

Web accessibility WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 AODA Section 508

Alt tags

Also known as: alt text, alternative text, alternative image descriptions

Alt tags are placed in the code of your website to give images or other visual content descriptions that will be used by screen readers. This information describes the content of the image for those who cannot see it.

These explanations of the image should only be used if a description is necessary to understand the rest of the content on the page. Otherwise, an empty set of alt tags (no description) should be added to indicate an image is decorative, or just for looks, rather than a required part of your content.

Learn more about making images accessible

Related:

Web accessibility

American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)

AIGA, or the American Institute of Graphic Arts, is a professional association for designers based in the United States and abroad. Although originally focused on graphic design, designers from many different disciplines now attend, present at, and organize their community events, conferences, and workshops. AIGA is the oldest and largest professional organization of its kind in the world.

Related:

GDC RGD

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is Ontario’s version of accessibility legislation. Based on requiring compliance with WCAG 2.0, AODA has general compliance requirements that many organizations must meet by January 2021, specifically, government organizations, and all organizations with more than 50 employees operating in Canada.

It is strongly recommended that all organizations in Ontario work towards WCAG 2.0 AA compliance to meet AODA legislation in the future in order to ensure future compliance requirements and simply to improve website user experience for all users.

Related:

Web accessibility WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 ADA Section 508

Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) labels

ARIA labels, or Accessible Rich Internet Application labels, are a type of code attribute that allows developers to add descriptions and context to the elements on a webpage for users of screen readers.

ARIA labels can be used as labels for text fields, interactive widgets like accordion or slider controls, or as supplementary text for links and buttons.

If you have a number of similar links on a page, such as ‘learn more’ or ‘get started’ you would use an ARIA label to better identify the topic of these links, such as writing “Get started with accessibility today”.

Related:

Web accessibility Automated accessibility checkers Alt tags WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 AODA ADA

Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD)

RGD, or the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, is the Canadian equivalent of AIGA, alongside GDC. Initially based in Ontario, RGD hosts events and includes members from across Canada. With a historical focus on graphic design, RGD’s members now include interaction design and digital professionals. RGD both offers professional certifications to designers, as well as organizing conferences and events like the annual Design Thinkers events in Toronto and Vancouver.

Related:

GDC AIGA

Automated accessibility checkers

Automated accessibility checkers use WCAG accessibility standards to check your site’s code for accessibility issues, like missing alternative image descriptions, missing ARIA labels, or colour contrast issues.

Examples of these kinds of accessibility tools include Lighthouse, AxE, SiteImprove, Firefox Inspect, Microsoft Accessibility Insights, and many others. These tools are focused on code and technical compliance. They do not test for usability, inclusivity, or comprehensive screen reading capabilities.

Using automated accessibility checkers alone to improve your accessibility will not ensure a wonderful user experience. That’s why we developed the Essential Website Audit service.

Related:

Web accessibility Screen readers ARIA Labels Alt tags WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 AODA ADA

Belonging

Belonging is a feeling or experience of feeling welcomed and embraced by a person, group, organization, or within a space. At its core, belonging is about feeling comfortable in being true to yourself and sharing your true self with the people around you, as well as being able to fully participate in something, whether it’s an affinity group, the use of a service, or being an employee at an organization.

Related:

Inclusive design Diversity and inclusion

Canadian Digital Service (CDS)

The CDS, or Canadian Digital Service, is the department of the Canadian Federal government whose focus is to improve digital products and services delivered by the government. They collaborate across all of the federal government’s services and products to put user needs at the forefront of government service delivery.

Related:

Service design ODS

Captions

Captions are text that appear on the screen over a video file in a way that corresponds with the spoken audio and other sounds as they happen throughout the video.

Captions are used so that people who can’t or do not want to listen to the video’s sound can still understand the video’s content as the video plays. Captions are also a requirement for creating accessible video content.

Many online video services offer automated captioning, including live conferencing tools such as Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, and video players like YouTube or Vimeo. However, these computer-automated captions do not often understand people’s names, accents, or other specialized terms or jargon. It is ideal to use a captioning service like Rev to prepare a more accurate file that can be used for both captions and transcripts.

Related:

Web accessibility Transcripts

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement is an approach that monitors the interactions and outcomes of a product or service after launch through validated learning and ongoing iteration. The objective of this approach is to find ways to consistently improve customer experience and optimize your organization’s efforts. This is driven by the unique opportunity in digital, where you can track and learn from every interaction, every person, every click or tap that occurs across digital channels.

Validated learning helps us pinpoint where we can focus efforts to improve customer experience and service delivery on an ongoing basis. This involves using user analytics, user testing, and other data gathering to inform these efforts.

The iterative process of continuous improvement means continually working to increase conversions, drive engagement, and make sure the team is working optimally towards meeting user needs and business goals.

Our approach to continuous improvement

Related:

Digital excellence Product strategy Service design

Current state

Current state is a term used in service design, often during service blueprinting, to identify the current service model and customer experience for an existing service.

The current state of a service includes everything from the processes in place, to the current customer journey, to the people and other elements operating “behind the scenes” that allow a service to be fulfilled.

Related:

Service design Future state Customer journey Customer journey mapping Service blueprint

Customer journey

Also known as: consumer journey, user journey

The customer journey is the path the user takes in deciding whether or not to purchase and continue to use a product or service. This includes their journey in making a purchase decision as as well as their journey during and after experiencing the product or service.

At each stage of the customer journey, the user has needs and goals. By understanding these needs and goals, organizations can engage with customers across physical and digital touchpoints to help users move through each stage of the journey.

Often, organizations look at the customer journey through the lens of the touchpoints where they know they’re already interacting with consumer. This is a limiting view that can dearly cost an organization as the customer journey typically extends beyond direct touchpoints through an extended series of stages that don’t necessarily or even can’t involve your organization. This is why it’s so important to understand the journey from the customer’s point of view, and then confirm of there are places across that extended journey where your organization can have an impact.

Related:

Product strategy Service design Touchpoint Customer journey mapping System strategy Service blueprint

Customer journey mapping

Also known as: journey mapping

The customer journey map helps identify each stage of a consumer’s decision making path, including before, during, and after using a product or service.

Interviews, observation, and other tactics help determine the customer’s decision-making process. Customer journey maps also identify consumer pain points organizations can address by modifying a product or service to better connect with, serve, and retain customers.

With a customer journey map, you have a clear path for improving service delivery across the entire organization while meeting customer needs and expectations.

Our approach to customer journey mapping

Related:

Product strategy Service design Touchpoint Customer journey System strategy Service blueprint

CVAA (Communications and Video Accessibility Act)

CVAA or, The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, is American legislation passed in 2010 that governs the accessibility of video and other multimedia content, for online, television, and other distribution channels. For example, for TV shows that have aired on television, they are legally required to have captions when they are streamed online.

Related:

Web accessibility WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 ADA Section 508

Dark patterns

Dark patterns are ways that organizations or designers nudge or trick users into taking action that they might have not intended, or that make it intentionally difficult for a user to complete a task.

An example of a dark pattern is a process that makes it very difficult for a user to cancel a subscription. By hiding options within multiple menus, writing instructions that confuse a user (e.g. making them think they succeeded in completing a task when they didn’t), or requiring multiple unnecessary steps to complete a task, these kind of user hostile dark patterns set a bad tone for your customer relationship.

Related:

Product strategy Service design Intuitive Usability

Digital maturity

Also known as: digital readiness

Digital Maturity is an organization’s ability to adopt emerging technologies and processes and adapt to changing markets and competition with capable decision-making and digital savvy teams.

When organizations achieve digital maturity, they are capable of identifying and implementing technology to match their business goals, improve their service delivery on a continuous basis, and continually grow their digital capabilities and upskill their staff.

We describe this achievement as “digital excellence.”

Our approach to achieving digital excellence

Related:

Digital excellence

Digital transformation

Digital transformation is the changing of organizational processes and capabilities by leveraging technology and new interaction models. Through digital transformation, organizations can provide a superior customer experience and optimize team efforts.

Digital transformation can extend product and service delivery to provide increasing value, hone existing digital channels and products, and define new initiatives that drive customer engagement and retention.

Digital transformation is not just about technology, as it impacts people and processes through core tenets such as human-centered design, continuous improvement, and upskilling to grow the digital maturity of the organizational and team members.

Our approach to digital transformation

Related:

Digital excellence Product strategy Service design Continuous improvement Digital maturity

Disenfranchised

Disenfranchised is a term used to describe a group of people who have had power taken away from them, or who lack certain inherent privileges or power that other groups have.

Disenfranchised was originally used to describe groups that were not given or were stripped of the right to vote, but has since expanded in definition to include any circumstance where a group of people loses power and has their rights violated.

Related:

Inclusive design Systemic racism Marginalized Privilege

Diversity

Diversity is the representation of individuals who identify with a wide range of intersectional identities, including ethnicity, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical and cognitive abilities, and socioeconomic status.

Related:

Inclusive design Inclusive Equity

Diversity and inclusion

Also known as: diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), D&I, diversity strategy

The umbrella of terms included under DEI involves programs, processes, and theories for strategies and methods of making organizations, spaces, and groups more inclusive and welcoming to all.

At an organizational level, this means building structures for hiring and retaining diverse teams, and creating more inclusive ways of working, where more diverse voices are heard and embraced. This can take a variety of forms, from creating internal task-force groups, to process changes for working and meeting with colleagues, to the language used in corporate communications, and much, much more.

From there, these structures can lead to the creation of more inclusive products and services if paired with an inclusive design process, to welcome a wider spectrum of both employees and customers to engage with and feel welcomed by your organization.

Related:

Inclusive design Privilege Unconscious bias Belonging Inclusive Equity Diversity

Edge case

The term edge case is used to describe an atypical or less commonly encountered use case or user for a product or service. The traditional approach implies that the edge cases are more difficult to solve and serve fewer people and therefore are to be avoided. The long-held belief is that organizations can serve most of their addressable market without solving these tougher challenges.

As a result of this traditional approach, edge cases would often not be accommodated by a  product or service, making it more difficult or even unusable in these cases.

For example, for a website, an edge case could be considered someone who would exclusively view the site in high contrast mode due to an uncommon vision impairment. However, this kind of consideration would be a common benefit for many users, not just those with a particular kind of vision impairment. Dismissing such a benefit because it may impact only a small percentage of users would be a detriment to the overall product and could require a significant effort to accommodate in the future.

As such, we know now that solving for the more difficult use cases first—particular when they lead to more ways to access content and engage with an organization—leads to much richer products or services that ultimately require less time and resources to capture market share.

Related:

Inclusive design Product strategy Service design Web accessibility Universal design Usability Inclusive

Equality Act

The Equality Act (or EQA) is accessibility legislation passed in the United Kingdom in 2010. This legislation introduced much more comprehensive protections for people with disabilities and their rights when accessing digital products and services.

Most notably, it passed into law the requirement that websites in the United Kingdom must take reasonable steps to provide an equivalent online user experience for those with disabilities. It also makes it illegal to discriminate against those with disabilities in the United Kingdom, under which failure to provide accessibility accommodations is considered one form of discrimination.

Related:

Web accessibility WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 AODA ADA Section 508

Equity

When all people are equal in their rights, freedoms, and accommodations when accessing spaces and using products or services.

Related:

Inclusive design Inclusive Diversity

Experience mapping

Also known as: user journey mapping, product journey mapping, user paths, user flows

Experience mapping is a design tool for mapping out the end-to-end experience of an existing product or service, or for mapping out a proposed experience for a new product or service.

In contrast to customer journey maps (which take a broader view of the steps and factors for a customer to consider and engage with a product or service), experience mapping focuses on the steps users need to take as they move through a specific user experience flow designed by an organization. For example, the steps required to check your balance in a banking app, or all the possible ways you can get to a page on a website.

An experience map can be used internally, to understand all the paths and options for working through your website, app, or another product or service. This can be a vital tool to understanding the full scope of your offering.

Experience maps can also be expanded upon to include a user’s behaviours and feelings throughout the experience. In this case, to identify opportunities for improving each of the stages in the flow.

They can be crafted manually or be created from existing analytics and secondary research in order to give you a full scope of your product or service and begin to identify and improve how a user will work through your product or service, if there are any missing or cumbersome steps, and how to more efficiently manage your product or service.

Related:

Product strategy Service design Touchpoint Customer journey Customer journey mapping

First click study

A first click study or first click testing, is a method of evaluative user research that tracks where a user clicks first when asked to complete a task.

First click studies aim to uncover unexpected user behaviour and confirm if the user’s mental model of how to complete a task aligns with how the interface of the product is designed.

This type of study allows a product team to better understand how users perceive the actions a designer would like them to take, and judge how intuitive a product is for every day users.

Related:

Product strategy Experience mapping Usability

Form elements

Form elements are any button, text box, checkbox or any other part of a form where a user can enter information. These elements need to be accessible not just by clicking or tapping them, but also by navigating to them with the keyboard.

If a certain form element must be responded to by the user, it needs to have an error state as well, where if the information required is invalid or not entered, a message is displayed and a symbol and colour change appears.

Related:

Web accessibility

Future state

Future state is a term used in service design to describe, especially in service blueprinting, the process of mapping out the ideal or expected structure or model of a current or new service. This includes the customer journey, the different touch-points in the service experience, and all of the behind the scenes factors like policies and processes and how these can be adapted towards an ideal or expected structure.

Related:

Service design Current state Customer journey Customer journey mapping Service blueprint

Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC)

Graphic Designers of Canada, or GDC, is a professional association of designers based in Canada. Their programming includes design memberships, educational programs, and professional growth and networking opportunities for designers across Canada. Alongside RGD, they also offer certification for graphic and communication design professionals in Canada.

Related:

RGD AIGA

Headings

All pages on your website should use headings in the code to differentiate between the sections of content on the page. When coding a page, there should be one h1 (heading level 1) , and then h2s for each section within that. If a heading is needed in a section with an h2, an h3 should be used, and so on. If you skip heading levels, or omit headings entirely, you make it harder for users using screen readers to navigate though and jump between sections on the pages of your site.

Learn more about how headings impact accessibility

Related:

Web accessibility

Heat map

A heat map is a way of visualizing user data or statistics. Heat maps typically offer visualizations of where people stopped scrolling or clicked on a webpage.

An example heat map which visualizes where people click on a webpage.
This example heat map highlights where people have clicked on a page. Warmer colours represent more clicks.

This method is one way of better understanding user behaviour on a website or digital product.

Product teams can use this data to create stronger page hierarchy, emphasize key areas that are receiving less user attention, or understand what other areas of the page could benefit from richer content or a link to more detailed information.

Related:

Product strategy First click study Usability Continuous improvement

Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC)

The Inclusive Design Research Centre, or IDRC, is a research organization based out of OCAD University in Toronto. Their work includes innovative research into accessibility, accessibility tools, inclusive design, and evolving and establishing inclusive design processes.

Founded by Jutta Treviranus (a professor at OCAD University) as the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, IDRC has evolved to focus on inclusive design and a more holistic focus on inclusion in products, services, and spaces.

IDRC’s work spans user research, visual design, development, and user testing, for both new internal innovations and external partners, with a group of employees, volunteers, and advocates that come together to research and design inclusively. All are welcome to participate in this work through the Fluid Project Wiki.

Related:

Inclusive design Web accessibility

Inclusive maturity

Inclusive maturity considers the three levels of maturity organizations typically go through in developing more inclusive workplaces, products, and services.

Level 1: Recruit a diverse team
Level 2: Establish a welcoming corporate culture
Level 3: Design inclusive products and services

By implementing inclusive practices within your organization, from recruiting to workplace culture to inclusive design practices, your organization will be prepared to serve more diverse markets more effectively.

Understanding your organization’s inclusive maturity at each level is the knowledge you need to uncover the gaps, opportunities, and priorities that will help you connect and capture the full scale of the market you serve. This knowledge sets you up for being more capable and intentional with your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy.

Read more about inclusive maturity

Related:

Inclusive design Intersectionality Diversity and inclusion Inclusive

Inclusive

Inclusivity means welcoming diverse market segments to engage authentically with your organization. An inclusive experience welcomes users through its language, design, and engagement. This is achieved through a deliberate and proactive inclusive design process to not only design for, but to design with, diverse users.

Also know as: inclusion, inclusivity, inclusiveness

Related:

Inclusive design Diversity and inclusion Equity Diversity

Intersectionality

Intersectionality is a way of describing and understanding how different identities that an individual might have (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, class and so on) combine to create different experiences when navigating the world.

Rather than looking at people through the lens of a singular identity (e.g. identifying as a woman), intersectionality looks at all the identities a person has, as well as more fluid factors like circumstances and ability. The combination of these considerations affects how a person engages with a product or service, interacts with people, and perceives the world.

Since it is a more holistic way of viewing people, intersectionality forms the backbone of inclusive design and diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) work.

Learn more about intersectionality

Related:

Inclusive design Product strategy Service design Diversity and inclusion Belonging Inclusive Diversity

Intuitive

If something is intuitive, this means that it is easy to use without a lot of instruction or learning time.

As an example, an intuitive interface or website has a way of navigating the website or product that makes sense to the user without them needing to read help documentation or spend a lot of time looking for what they need to complete a task.

This is accomplished by using standard models for navigation, interaction, and engagement so that users can recognize familiar patterns and do not need to try to figure out a new interaction model.

Related:

Product strategy Web accessibility POUR Usability Continuous improvement

Keyboard navigation

Also known as: keyboard nav, tabbing, tab through

Many users will navigate your site without using a mouse, trackpad, or touch. An alternative interaction method is using keyboard navigation keys like the ‘tab’ key to jump from link to link or through a form.

This is why it is critical to make sure keyboard navigation not only functions correctly on your site, but also has a logical path to move through links and form elements.

To make your site fully accessible for screen reader users, you’ll also need to add a ‘Skip Navigation’ link so that users can go directly to the main content of your site and not continually have the main menu items read aloud to them as they move from page to page.

Learn more about keyboard navigation

Related:

Web accessibility

Landmarks

Landmarks are snippets of code that—when placed in a web page—make it easier for screen readers to jump from section to section on the page. Pages are usually structured with a main landmark for the primary page content, a ‘Content Info’ landmark for footers, and a navigation landmark for the main menu items.

Additional complementary or region landmarks may be necessary if your site has sections on a page that aren’t part of the main content, or has an atypical way of structuring pages.

Learn more about landmarks

Related:

Web accessibility

Marginalized

Marginalized is a term used to describe a group of people or an identity that has lost power in society, and are often restricted from access and involvement in the dominant society’s economic and political structures.

Marginalized groups face discrimination from the majority group. You can typically recognized racial and cultural groups as marginalized, including LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and many others.

Related:

Inclusive design Systemic racism Disenfranchised Intersectionality Privilege

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the simplest form of a product that can provide enough value to your market in order to prove a business opportunity.

It’s a methodology that gets the first release of your product to market as quickly as possible by only initially developing the features that are required to provide the most impactful outcomes for both users and the organization. It’s a great tactic for cutting back on up-front engineering hours, and starting to validate the product with user engagement earlier in the life of the product.

The purpose of the MVP is to reduce the number of assumptions an organization carries forward into further product development, including the core assumption that what you think is right for the market is actually what the market will use and support.

Ultimately, it’s about ensuring whether or not the product is worth continued investment as quickly as possible and, if so, to capture market share, engagement, and growth based on real world interest, not assumptions.

Why a strong MVP is not just a collection of features

Related:

Product strategy Continuous improvement

Neurodivergent

Neurodivergent, sometimes also described as neurodiverse, is a term for people who think, perceive, or express themselves in ways that would traditionally be seen as atypical.

These characteristics can involve social, attention, mood, and other factors that differ from neurotypical behaviours. This term is used to recognize the differences that may be present in thinking and learning and was created to identify these differences as not abnormal, just different.

Examples may include perceptions of and reactions to sound, light, crowds, or other stimuli.

Related:

Inclusive design Web accessibility Intersectionality Diversity

Ontario Digital Service (ODS)

The Ontario Digital Service (ODS) is the digital arm of the Ontario government, working to improve access to and delivery of government services. Employees of the ODS work on everything from service design, to content, to product design and development, all driven by the Simple, Faster, Better Services Act passed into law in 2019.

Related:

Service design CDS

POUR—perceivable, operable, understandable, robust

The POUR acronym—perceivable, operable, understandable, robust—is a concept used in accessibility to represent the four key principles used to make something accessible on the web.

Here’s a breakdown of these four principles:

Perceivable
Users can use a range of senses to easily identify content and user interface functionality.

Example: Colour contrast is sufficient for users to easily read text that sits on a background.

Operable
This principle focuses on the functionality of the interface through a range of means; from mouse, to keyboard, to voice.

Example: Keyboard navigation and the tab key allow the user to jump from link to link on the site without getting stuck or confused.

Understandable

This principle focuses on whether the content and features are simple and consistent. This principle’s success factors include a level of content that can be understood by all, and an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.

Example: Content is at a reading level that is not too difficult for the audience to understand (10th grade or below).

Robust

The robust principle is focused on determining if an interface or website meets reasonable technology standards, including functioning across different devices and browsers.

Example:Does the site work in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox?

Related:

Web accessibility WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 AODA ADA

Privilege

Privilege is when a group or individual has advantages afforded to them by society or groups because of possessing unchangeable or identity-rooted traits, like race, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status.

Some examples of advantages that can stem from privileges for certain groups include: more access to education, fewer barriers to unemployment, or being less likely to be targeted by police or government authorities.

Related:

Inclusive design Disenfranchised Unconscious bias Diversity and inclusion

Product owner

A product owner is the person responsible for guiding the product vision and the roadmap for the product. They oversee the outcomes of the design and development process, working to prioritize scope, budget, and timelines, alongside user needs and organizational requirements.

The product owner is the central communicator between the team building the product, the stakeholders, and the users. They play a vital and ongoing role in ensuring the product delivers as much value as possible for the organization building it and those people who will use it.

Related:

Product strategy Digital transformation Digital maturity

Qualitative research

Qualitative research describes data collected in non-numerical or non-statistically relevant ways.

Qualitative data can include quotes from interviews, observations from ethnographic studies, or notes from a diary study. This data can be used to form a more holistic picture of users and participants, help build a case for specific product or service use cases, and is great for building empathy towards users among stakeholders and design teams.

Related:

Product strategy Service design User interviews Quantitative research Customer journey mapping System strategy Service blueprint

Quantitative research

Quantitative research describes data collected in a measurable, numerical, and/or statistically-relevant format.

Typical formats for collecting quantitative data include rating scales, various large-scale surveying methods, evaluative usability testing (using metrics like time to task completion and the number of clicks), and analytics like heat maps and A/B testing.

Related:

Product strategy Service design Heat map First click study Qualitative research Usability

Screen readers

Screen readers describes software that allows users to listen to the content on a web page and navigate through a website without needing to view the visual content displayed on a screen. Some common examples are JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver.

Screen readers enable using a range of keyboard shortcuts or voice commands to allow users to jump from element to element on the page, take shortcuts to the content that matters most to them, and many other text reading and navigation options.

It’s important when you are developing a website to build in functionality like ARIA labels, landmarks, alt tags, and correct heading structures so that users of screen readers can access the content on your website as effectively as those who do not use screen readers.

Related:

Web accessibility CVAA VoiceOver ARIA Labels Alt tags Landmarks WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 AODA ADA

Section 508

Section 508 is American legislation that mandates all federal entities—and any private corporations that do business with federal agencies—make their digital platforms accessible to people with disabilities. This includes healthcare, legal, financial, and numerous other private sector organizations, in addition to public sector organizations.

Related:

Web accessibility WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 AODA ADA

Service blueprint

Also known as: service map, service mapping, service journey, or service blueprinting

Service blueprints are a service design method that allows teams to visually map out the front-stage (what the customer sees) and the back-stage (internal teams and processes) in order to have a clear picture of the service delivery model—all the processes and requirements of providing a product or service to customers. Through identifying the steps that both customers and employees take in the process, areas of friction and improvement can be identified.

Service blueprints are the result of user research and information gathering around current state operational models. These two activities combine to better understand the needs and behaviours of people currently participating in the service delivery process, which is then consolidated into a set of blueprints and journeys.

In the strategy stage of redesigning a service, service blueprints are invaluable for their capacity to systematically understand and map the often complex steps involved in service delivery.

Related:

Service design Customer journey Customer journey mapping System strategy

Service Design Global Conference (SDGC)

The Service Design Global Conference (SDGC), is an annual service design conference put on by the Service Design Network (SDN). The conference is held over two days, attended by professionals and organizations who practice customer experience, service design, and design thinking.

Held in a different city every year, the theme of each annual conference shifts alongside the changes in locale, ranging from sustainability, to building the future of service delivery and design, and much more. The conference is a staple of the service design industry event calendar.

Related:

Service design

Service Design Network (SDN)

The Service Design Network (SDN) is an international association of service design professionals. Every year, the different chapters of SDN hold events, meetups, workshops, and more, to grow individual and organizational service design capacity, as well as publishing the Touchpoint Journal with case studies and new methodologies.

Say Yeah team members Lee Dale, Kate Matesic, and Janavi Vengatesh are members of SDN.

Related:

Service design

System strategy

System strategy is the essential framework for driving customer experience and organizational effectiveness. This framework helps accelerate internal decision-making with an approach that uncovers key opportunities to drive customer engagement and retention while optimizing operations.

For organizations that are looking to improve product and service delivery, system strategy provides the roadmap to accomplish this. It aligns operations and channels with the customer journey in order to uncover new market opportunities, accelerate organizational objectives, and define new efficiencies in delivering product and service.

Our approach to system strategy

Related:

Digital excellence Product strategy Service design Customer journey Customer journey mapping Service blueprint

Systemic racism

Systemic is a term used to describe something that affects something overall (a system), rather than in just one small area.

Systemic racism describes racism that isn’t about one individual or group’s racist actions, but instead describes racism that is embedded into society’s systems and structures. The way these systems are fundamentally set up harms racial minorities and marginalized communities, even without taking into account the actions of racist individuals within the system.

For example, systemic racism is a structural issue in public institutions like policing and the legal system, and in political and government institutions, as well as the advertising, design, and technology industries.

Systemic racism is present in systems all over the world, and it takes conscious, intentional, anti-racist work by governments, societies, businesses, and other organizations to dismantle these unjust systems.

Related:

Inclusive design Intersectionality Privilege Unconscious bias

Touchpoint

Also known as: touch point, point of contact, customer touchpoint, consumer touchpoint

Customer touchpoints refer to any interaction an organization has with a customer.

All the interactions between a customer who discovers your organization online for the first time, to eventually acquiring your services, and then engaging with your service on an ongoing basis. These are all touchpoints.

This could include browsing your website, speaking to a sales representative, downloading a PDF, ordering something online, receiving a shipment, and so on.

Related:

Product strategy Service design Customer journey Customer journey mapping

Transcripts

Transcripts are text-based versions of audio content that provide a word-for-word account of what is said in a video or audio file.

Transcripts allow people access to content even if they cannot or do not want to listen to audio. Transcripts are typically an accessibility requirement for improving access to audio or video content for people with hearing impairments, but they also serve many people who may be unable to turn on their volume, or may find it easier or faster to read rather than listen to audio.

When working with a video that has audio, it is best to use a service that provides a transcript as well as captions for the video.

Related:

Web accessibility Captions

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias is when a person makes actions or assumptions about individuals based on ingrained beliefs or stereotypes, without realizing the influence of these usually systemic beliefs on their thoughts and decisions.

We all have some level of unconscious bias, based on our upbringing, the media we are exposed to, and many other factors. It requires effort and work to undo and unpack these biases through diversity and inclusion work, listening to other people’s lived experiences, and building empathy for people who have different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.

Related:

Inclusive design Diversity and inclusion

Universal design

Universal design is a method of designing environments, services, and products to be usable by the highest number of people in a given population. Univeral design has its origins in architecture and industrial design but has recently expanded to include digital products and services.

The Ronald Mace working group developed a standard set of seven principles of universal design in the 1990s, from which all universal design processes originate from. Some universal design principles include flexible use, simple use, and tolerances for error. When using this design philosophy, designers create a single solution designed to reach the most people, with the goal of not needing to develop additional solutions for people with different needs.

The seven principles of universal design shown through drawings of hands performing different actions
The principles of universal design: equitable use, flexibility in use,  simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, size and space for approach and use. From the Interaction Design Foundation.

Related:

Inclusive design Product strategy Service design Inclusive

Usability

Usability is a general term that describes how an interface or experience functions for users. It refers to how users can perform tasks in a frustrating-free, efficient, and delightful way.

The more usable a product or service, the less difficult it is to engage with, the easier to understand (or more intuitive), and the more pleasant the experience will be for users.

Usability is a key tenet of interaction design, product design, and service design.

Related:

Product strategy Service design

User interviews

User interviews are a research tactic where researchers or designers talk to a user and ask them questions to gain insights needed for the design process. User interviews are typically used in the earlier stages of the process, and form the foundation of exploratory research. These interviews can be structured, semi-structured, or free form.

User interviews can help you define a product or service concept, identify user pain points, and understand your users on a deeper level to better define design requirements.

Related:

Inclusive design Product strategy Service design Experience mapping Usability System strategy

VoiceOver

VoiceOver is the built-in screen reading technology built into Apple’s operating systems, including macOS and iOS. VoiceOver allows users to have all of the written content in the operating system, app, or web browser read back to them.

This includes allowing users to navigate web pages and software through keyboard commands. VoiceOver also reads out alternative image descriptions, and indicates links and site headings, so that users know where they are in the page structure.

Related:

Web accessibility Screen readers ARIA Labels Alt tags Landmarks WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1

World Wide Web Consortium

W3C, or the World Wide Web Consortium, is a committee that determines the standards that are generally adopted for the Internet and for online content.

These standards include best practices for developers, accessibility standards, and privacy and security guidelines. The W3C develops resources, builds community on the web, and have working groups focused on establishing new standards as the web continues to evolve overtime.

The adoption of W3C standards are realized with support from major browsers such as Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and others, along with the designers, developers, and content creators who deliver standards-based products for these browsers and related platforms.

For details on web accessibility standards, you would reference the W3C’s WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Related:

Web accessibility WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0/2.1 (WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1)

WCAG 2.0 / WCAG 2.1 represent the latest versions of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These are the standards that the majority of national and sub-national (provincial, state, etc) legislation is based on, including ADA in the United States, and AODA in Ontario Canada.

WCAG standards include guidelines for content, code, and technical guidelines for how colour, interactivity, and more is handled on a website.

All organizations should be striving for a WCAG 2.0 AA rating for their website in order to meet general accessibility guidelines. A, AA, and AAA ratings define the measure of adherence to the standards presented by the WCAG guidelines.

Related:

Web accessibility AODA ADA Section 508