Usable, Accessible, and Universal Design: What’s the Difference?
Most people are familiar with the word design. In fact, we base many of our decisions on design. When things look good we are tempted to choose them over the things that are more useful. But it actually is possible to combine great design with function. Here are three practices that do just that.
Usable design refers to the act of creating an environment or products that are not only efficient, but also easy-to-use. When talking about usability there are three aspects to consider:
- Learnability: Can users easily learn how to operate the product, and can they remember how to perform tasks when they return to the product the next time?
- Consistency: Are product features clearly and consistently labeled?
- Efficiency and effectiveness: Can users perform tasks with a minimal amount of effort and achieve their goals successfully?
Accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. It is about creating an environment that allows for independence and safety in day-to-day life. Curb-less showers are an example of this.
Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Grab bars or rollout drawers in the kitchen are popular universal design products.