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Design for everyone

At DCJ, we have diverse audience groups.

We provide information in digital formats to a wide range of people in the community, including:

  • families and carers
  • young people
  • older people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • people with disability
  • people who are homeless
  • people who are at risk or in crisis
  • people with mental illness
  • people with low levels of literacy
  • people with diverse learning needs
  • people who speak languages other than English.

We also provide information in digital formats to a wide range of people working in our areas of expertise, including:

  • internal staff
  • employees in other government departments
  • professionals working across a range of sectors, including housing, disability, health and human services.

There may be substantial crossovers within all of these groups and we must take everyone’s needs into consideration.

This means that, when we design content that is going to be published in a digital format, we must make sure we’re designing for everyone. While we know that the technical rules around accessibility must be applied, we want to make sure that our designs and information go further than this.

For example, we want our content to meet the needs of people with cognitive disability as well as those with sensory or physical disability. And we want to include people with low levels of literacy or diverse learning needs.

How can we design for everyone?

We can design for everyone by taking the following design ideas into consideration when creating digital content. This work is in addition to following the criteria that outline how we always put people first, adhere to WCAG and write in plain English .

Here’s what you can do:

  • Keep interactions brief and simple.
  • Keep the visual design uncluttered.
  • Organise your content structure well.
  • Use a responsive design that adapts to a range of devices and screen sizes.
  • Break long content up over several pages and include reminders of where people are up to – for example, Step 2 of 4.
  • Show the current task, including its status and progress.
  • Provide simple, clear error messages.
  • Provide warnings – for example when someone is about to delete a file or exit without saving.
  • Only change features on a page if users request to do so.
  • Use visual structure and white space well.
  • Write simply and clearly. Use plain English or, where relevant, Easy Read.
  • Provide a glossary for complex words.
  • Warn users of extreme changes in content – such as opening up a PDF.
  • Make all interactions as predictable as possible.
  • Offer more than one way to find a page.
  • Try to help the user to focus. Don't distract people with unnecessary graphics, especially animated graphics.
  • Present information in a common sense way to reduce the cognitive energy people need to use to complete tasks on your site. Do the thinking for people at the design stage so they don’t have to work hard when they use your site.
  • Use visual cues to highlight important points or sections of the content.
  • If possible, eliminate advertisements and sponsored links.
  • Make sure the location of the cursor is obvious.
  • Make important content noticeable and easy to scan. Avoid background noises or images that distract. Instead, use these tools to focus the user's attention.
  • Avoid long lists of options for someone to choose from. Keep the number of choices short and succinct.
  • Be flexible in how data is viewed, entered and saved. For example, allow spaces in phone or credit card numbers that people would usually use.
  • Use media such as illustrations, icons, photos, video and audio to connect with people with cognitive disability or learning needs.
  • Use captions or sign language for videos – we explain more about this here.
  • Allow users to stop or pause time-sensitive features, such as videos or rotating banners.
  • Help users by doing the maths for them. Where computations are required, such as in eCommerce sites that add the price of the items purchased, tax, shipping and handling, and other charges, perform these computations automatically, so the user does not have to.
  • Provide translated materials where relevant. Find out more about language translation support here.

Many of these tips have been collated from the following sources:

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Last updated: 28 Oct 2020