Marketers know how fast the design landscape and related technology change. We at Lemonly certainly do, since we use both design and technology to create our work (infographics, videos, and the like).
As devices get smarter, browsers get more advanced, file types get more efficient, and best practices evolve over time, we as designers and marketing professionals need to make sure our practices—the work we make and how we make it—evolve, too.
We all need to use the tools at our disposal to make visual content more accessible and inclusive for everyone. Accessibility means as many people as possible can enjoy our work. Inclusivity means as many people as possible can see themselves represented in our work. Together, accessibility and inclusivity mean visual content has a wider reach and relevance, so our stories—and our clients’—make the world easier to understand for more people.
Let’s get into why accessibility and inclusivity matter in design, what we’re doing about it at Lemonly, and some starter resources we recommend for everyone.
Accessibility and inclusivity are prerequisites for great design
As Lemonheads, we know accessibility and inclusivity are prerequisites for creating great visual content. Great design considers the different ways people consume content and depicts a multiplicity of experiences and identities reflecting the world around us. The alternative is design that inherently excludes others—through barriers to consumption or depictions of only certain types of people.
To us, as designers who create digital content, accessibility means following web accessibility best practices to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy our work. As illustrators who bring information, concepts, and stories to life through art, inclusivity means making sure our art reflects the world we live in. This includes illustrating diverse characters representing a spectrum of races, cultures, abilities, body types, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, and more.
Great design is our job. Accessibility and inclusivity are, too.
We’re committed to getting Better Every Day, and we continue to push ourselves—and our clients—to reflect the world’s diversity in our work, while creating accessible design that more and more people can enjoy.
Accessibility and inclusivity are everyone’s job. From writing at an accessible reading level to increasing representation in character illustrations, we all have opportunities to push and expand accessibility and inclusivity. And we can only do that when everyone has buy-in and the knowledge and tools they need to make accessibility and inclusivity a priority.
Over the past year, we’ve assembled a group of Lemonheads who focus on making sure we’re up to date on best practices and continually evaluating our work, tools, and processes with accessibility and inclusivity in mind (more on that below). We’re also lucky to have access to world-class web accessibility expertise from our comrades at our sister company, Click Rain. Today, our work—animated infographics and interactives in particular—is more high-performing and accessible than ever.
So what do we call that group of Lemonheads specifically focused on bringing accessibility and inclusivity best practices back to the whole team to make our work even better? DIVE, short for Designing Inclusive Visuals for Everyone.
Here’s a look at the group’s guiding focus:
To advance Lemonly’s design practices around web accessibility and representation of diverse identities and to educate Lemonheads so we can create more inclusive, more accessible sweet visuals for Lemonly and our clients.
With that mission in mind, our work in DIVE is focused around a couple key areas:
Web accessibility: making sure as many people as possible can enjoy the visual content we create, especially for people with disabilities and folks who use assistive technology like screen readers, voice control, and more.
7% of digital users in the Upper Midwest use assistive technology of some kind—nearly 3x as many who reported using assistive technology just four years ago. (Digital State of the Midwest Report, 2022)
More and more of Lemonly’s projects are animated, interactive, or both—and we love that! Motion and interactivity make visual content richer, more engaging, and more fun. As we expand our capabilities even more and try out tools and methods we haven’t before, we have to make sure we’re following best practices and designing in ways that make our work high-performing and accessible in its final form on the web.
Design best practices: designing with accessibility always in mind—things like color contrast, text size, interactivity cues, inclusive character representation, and more. As design pros, these are things we know and do already. But we’re baking them into our processes, checklists, and internal review workflow even more to make sure everyone—even non-designers who strategize, write, and proof the things we make—has the knowledge and tools they need to implement best practices and hold each other accountable.
Focusing on how Lemonly can make an impact
As members of DIVE, we were intentional in focusing the group’s mission on improving our work. That specificity—addressing opportunities for better accessibility and inclusivity as designers in our design work—gives us clear purpose and applicability.
We’re also intentional in identifying what we’re not trying to do—or not capable of doing within the scope and ability of this task force. I want to share our thought process here.
As individuals, we all have a responsibility to work toward a more inclusive, equitable world. But we know this one task force at a small infographic design studio isn’t capable of solving those larger societal, cultural, and institutional problems. So, we’re focused on making an impact on those larger problems in ways that are true to Lemonly and within our scope, ability, and expertise: making our work more accessible and reflective of the world around us, becoming better designers, and creating infographics more and more people can access and enjoy. Our work here is ongoing and will grow and change as we learn more.
Accessibility tools and resources for designers
Part of our continuing education efforts around web accessibility and inclusive design includes sharing knowledge with the rest of the team. So we’re compiling a growing repository of resources we’ve found helpful—articles, tutorials, webinars, tools, plug-ins, and more.
Here are a few of our favorite resources and tools you can start using today:
- Contrast – This menubar app (available on the App Store) makes checking color contrast easy with just a click from whatever app you’re using and whatever’s on your screen.
- Colour Contrast – Another great color contrast checker with a Chrome plug-in if that’s your browser of choice.
- Contrast Grid (EightShapes) – Test many color combinations (like your entire color palette or various tints and shades) for accessible contrast.
- Colorblindly – This Chrome plug-in simulates different types of color blindness in your browser.
- Accessibility checklist (Webflow) – We love this accessibility checklist from Webflow (so much that we used it as a reference when putting together our own). It’s written with the Webflow platform in mind, but the principles are universal to many types of digital and web design.
- Inclusive illustration guide (Airbnb) – This article about Airbnb’s approach to inclusive illustration is a great primer for designers, including a case study with examples.
- Inclusive language guide (Webflow) – This easy-to-understand guide has thorough guidelines to check for racist, ableist, sexist, gendered, or culturally appropriative language in your communication.
Related reading from Lemonly