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Blog:Discoverability, Semantic Markup & Accessibility

Manny Becerra as a child

April 2014

It's common enough 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, or when I do find what I'm looking for, it took three (3) to several more clicks than necessary because, for instance, seemingly important content was hidden behind some tertiary navigation link. 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.

Gobal Fuzzy Search

One way to make content more easily discoverable is to incorporate a global fuzzy search tool so users can query just about any content that 1) they're looking for, and 2) 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 such a search tool 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, or, even including a link back to your site or app's homepage or sitemap where the main site links are laid out.

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.

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.

See also: Inclusive Design

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

Manny


I am human, a father, and a problem solver: a tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in building and leading compassionate, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture. My teams and I champion usable, inclusive digital products and online experiences. My work, passion and intentions also intersect with advising small businesses and political campaigns, life-long learning, outdoor advocacy, community building, and uplifting others. Learn more about Manny