‘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
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.
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.
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 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
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.
Related:Digital excellence Product strategy Service design
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.
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 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 Usability
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.”
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.
Related:Digital excellence Product strategy Service design Continuous improvement Digital maturity
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
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
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
When all people are equal in their rights, freedoms, and accommodations when accessing spaces and using products or services.
Related:Inclusive design Inclusive Diversity
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
Related:Inclusive design Product strategy Service design Diversity and inclusion Belonging Inclusive Diversity
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.
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.
Related:Product strategy Continuous improvement
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
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 Unconscious bias Diversity and inclusion
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 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 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 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 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
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.
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.
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.
Related:Digital excellence Product strategy Service design Customer journey Customer journey mapping Service blueprint
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 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 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 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.
Related:Inclusive design Product strategy Service design Inclusive
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 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 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
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.