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Keys to Make your Mobile App More Accessible

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, June 8, 2012
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Bangalore: Mobile apps are playing a major role in our day to day life. We are dependent on apps for the daily news, book online movie tickets or even check the temperature. However, have we ever thought that people with special needs or the aged also need to use apps such as iConverse and others for various purposes?

Here are 10 steps to make your mobile app more accessible.

1. Be well versed on the subject
A developer would need to be well versed on the subject of accessibility like how to create apps that are accessible. They would also need to be aware of the different promotional strategies and methods that other apps used to ensure accessibility. RIM, Apple and the Android have accessibility guides for developers of Blackberry, iOS and Android.

2. Speak with people with accessibility needs
Speaking with people apart from reading about accessibility would provide real life information such as the common mistakes that developers make with their apps. This information can also be obtained from NGOs and other charity groups who are involved with people with special needs.

3. Perform tests on accessibility tools by yourself
Testing apps yourself by using accessibility tools, will provide firsthand knowledge on how the app will work and also have an idea about the problems that can occur.  Example, if you’re working on a BlackBerry App, you would need to spend some time familiarizing the accessibility features like the BlackBerry Screen Reader.

4. Create Apps that are available for all
Not all smartphone users have good eyesight or can hear well. Therefore, developers would need to make apps which are available for all types of users.

5. Do think about user expectations
Developers and designers want to build apps which are attractive and with newer functions to differentiate it from their previous apps. However, this can be a barrier to accessibility. Thus, while developing, they should keep in mind the expectations of the end user on how the app should work and what should be there.  The ultimate success of the apps depends on the user.

6. Make the app understandable
Designer and developers need to ensure that the average people will understand the features of their app. The language should not be too technical as not all users are tech savvy.

7. Simplify the features
Users will prefer if the app is simple. The menu and other features should not look like a constellation of stars. Unnecessary features should be removed. Less options, clear prompts and a well defined pathway will not only make the app user friendly but also popular.

8. Conduct tests
After developing the app, it is good to tests the app for any problems that users might encounter. By doing so, they will be able to rectify the problem before the app is displayed. You can also ask your friends to test the app, as this will provide another perspective on your app.

9. Remember what you have learned
If you’re planning to build more apps in the near future, it would be best to remember what you have learned. This will avoid you making the same mistakes that you made with the previous app.

10. Talk to human and not to a programmer
Many applications in the market are still using technical language to communicate with the user. Tech savvy people may be comfortable with this type of communication; however, the general public would avoid using the app as they wouldn’t understand what is written.

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