7 important considerations for creating an inclusive clinical study website
You might have noticed that all of us here at COUCH Health are big advocates for taking action to improve diversity and inclusion in the world of clinical research. ‘Taking action’ rather than simply talking about what we should be doing is really important to us. Which is why we put together information that can be used to make change, not just discuss it.
Our latest white paper - Unleash the power of a clinical study website to engage patients and inform HCPS - is full insight that unearths why a website is vital to any clinical study, and useful guidance that can help you create a website that improves your clinical study experience. In the white paper, we highlight a host of ways to ensure your website is inclusive and accessible, covering areas such as design, language, digestibility and more. And in this blog, we’re diving even deeper into some more technical considerations to bring you clear and constructive guidance to make sure your website is accessible for everyone.
Accessibility regardless of disability
Society expects physical spaces to be accessible to everyone, taking into consideration all disabilities. And the digital world should be no different. By making your clinical study website accessible, you ensure that all of your potential users, including people with disabilities, are able to easily access your information and have a good experience. In turn, more people are aware of, and engaged with, your clinical study, which can seriously improve enrolment and retention. And what clinical study doesn’t that?
To get you started putting steps in place to build an inclusive clinical study website, we’ll talk you through 7 accessibility best practices that will improve the usability of your site.
Best practices for building an inclusive website
People wanting to access your website could be visually impaired due to a disability, a temporary complication, or old age. And keep in mind that generally, the population is growing older, so there will be more elderly users than ever before needing help reading and interacting with websites.
It sounds like common sense, but a simple place to start is by making sure the typeface you choose is simple to read and the font size is big enough. Body text for websites should be between at least 12- and 14-point font, and all text must be able to be resized to 200% without creating problems for your user (such as content dropping off the page).
2. Colour contrast
Colour contrast can also have a big impact on readability - text that blends into the background of your page can create big issues for users. Also, for those with low vision, colour blindness or reading disabilities such as dyslexia, being able to adjust the colours on a screen can be important, so your contrast between the text and background needs to be carefully considered.
3. Keyboard accessibility
Not everyone visiting your website will be able to use a mouse or cursor. For example, blind or visually impaired users might rely on text-to-speech software to tell them where the focus is on each page. People with mobility disabilities that prevent them from using a mouse or trackpad will need visual cues as to where they are on the page. Essentially, your website should be able to be accessed through both a mouse and keyboard. This can be done using landmarks which allow users to navigate to sections (landmarks) of the site (such as the sidebar, body or nav bar), using their keyboard to jump from landmark to landmark easily.
4. Text to speech
As well as requiring accessibility through a keyboard, your website needs to be tagged to work with voice control systems - which is simpler than it sounds. Text to speech tools will read your website to the user, including images, through the images’ descriptions and alt text - really enhancing your website experience for anyone with visual impairments. Alt text allows anyone who can’t see the picture to understand what it represents.
Video is a great content option, helping people to digest and understand information if they’re not comfortable reading lots of text. But if you have a video on your site, you need to make sure it has subtitles to accommodate those who might not be able to hear the audio. Another important consideration is ensuring flashes in the video content are above or below a certain threshold to protect users who could be at risk for seizures.
Banners and popups can be useful on a website to remind people to do something, or to alert them to information. However, if you do have content appearing and disappearing, you need to make sure that you give people enough time to read it. Imagine how frustrating it would be to only get half the story! You can make this fool-proof by allowing users to decide if they need more time by giving them a checkbox or a way to verify that they’re done interacting with it. This thinking needs to apply to any form-filling too - if you decide that timeouts are appropriate, they need to allow enough time for people to fill in the information.
7. Downloadable materials
If your website is going to offer any information to download, refer back to the readability, keyboard accessibility and colour contrast guidance above to ensure the same approaches are applied. For example, you’ll need to make sure that PDFs can be navigated and read without any problems by those using assistive technologies; text is the appropriate size and in an appropriate font; and that the colour contrast is correct and readers can customise the colour scheme.
These 7 considerations cover quite technical aspects of creating an inclusive and accessible clinical study website. But in our latest white paper, we cover a host of important considerations in regards to content and engagement. So to get the full picture, download your free copy...
At COUCH Health, we specialise in designing, building and creating content for inclusive and accessible clinical study websites. So if you’d like any further guidance or assistance in creating yours, get in touch and we’ll get right on it.