Beyond the Usual, Passive DEI Efforts in Tech

Blog: Discoverability, Semantic Markup & Accessibility

Manny Becerra as a child

April 2014

It's common that I come across a website or an app that at first, I think: wow, this is pretty slick (in regard to the eye candy of the UI). Then, as I start exploring, I find it painfully hard to either find information. When I do find what I'm looking for, it usually takes three (3) or more clicks than should be necessary. People that rely on screen readers to navigate may share similar frustrations when visiting such websites, particularly if such sites lack semantic markup in addition to poor navigation.

I'm a big proponent of inclusive, people- and System- centered design and solutions, not just with the digital products and user experiences I have the opportunity to work on and create, but in my daily life.

Global fuzzy search for content

One way to make content more easily discoverable is to incorporate a global fuzzy search tool so users can query just about any content 1) that they're looking for, and 2) that exists on your website or app. For instance, toward the bottom section of this blog post, there is a Search icon () that if users select it, it will bring up a search tool allowing users to look for other posts by title and or keywords. The shortkey command to activate this tool are the shift + s keys at the same time.

Main navigation with relevant content

Another way of making an app or site more user-friendly is by creating a main navigation that is easily accessible both on screen and by assistive technologies, like screen readers. Even including a link back to your site or app's homepage or sitemap where the main site links are laid out would go a long way in improving the user experience.

Designing for inclusion isn't just good for people with special needs and abilities, it's good for everyone; it's about creating a better, just world for everyone

Meaningful content

I mentioned semantic markup earlier and how a lack of it can contribute to a poor user experience and be a hindrance to discoverability, and I want to emphasize this again: don't have semantic markup be an after thought. Semantic markup gives meaning to your content, which is important for everyone, especially for people relying on assistive technology (AT), like screen readers, to access your site or app.

Pro tip: a11y is a numeronym; numeronyms are number-based words. a11y stands for accessibility.

Continuous improvement

I'm always looking for ways to improve the user experience for everyone on the products I work on. My sites are not 100% perfect, however, I do strive to continuously improve them based on ongoing research and user feedback. Feel free to share general feedback or any points of friction you may come across using my site and I'll prioritize address it as fast as humanly possible. I hope the little I shared above helps brew up some ideas on what might help you improve your own site and digital products.

Build on... with discoverability, semantic markup & a11y at the forefront.


Manny Becerra as a child

I operate from a place of compassion, possibility and imagination. My work and efforts share a common goal: create a better, sustainable and equitable world by building inclusive communities, products & experiences.