It seems like every major company is rebranding, and with the goal to become less and less distinct. Over the past decade, minimalism and simplicity have surged in popularity, and we as consumers seem to have been left behind in a sea of conforming corporations. Why is that? Are designers getting lazy? Is this just a product of committees playing it safe with their corporate identity? Do phone screens dictate logos that don’t require a microscope to view?
The answer may be a combination of these things, but one thing we’re seeing more of here at BrandCraft is customers that are conscious of website accessibility.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility is simply the practice of making your product usable by as many people as possible. For web, that means visually or aurally disabled people and it also includes non-disabled folks on a slow connection.
How does website accessibility affect branding?
W3.org is a leading organization in defining standards for accessibility. Their finding is that a huge number of factors go into making a site accessible, but here’s a glimpse of what it can look like:
Fonts– should be an easily readable size, with good spacing between letters and rows. Choice of font is important too, it’s generally a good idea to avoid script and serif fonts if they’re hard to read.
Letters too close or too far apart
Serif fonts are hard to read on screens
Contrast, text on gradients & images – There should be a good amount of contrast between the text and the background – black on white is good, yellow on white is bad. Same goes for text on gradients and images –no part of the background should make the text hard to read.
How does this impact website design?
As you can probably tell, it’s possible for accessibility to affect things like branding and logo design.
This can happen tangibly –a conscious effort made by a company to be accessible, is going to result in logos like the examples above. There’s also an intangible effect- design moves on a cultural level, and branding is susceptible to the whims of society just as much as bell-bottom jeans and mullet hairstyles.
In other words, the simplistic branding with bold neo-grotesque fonts might not be around forever.
Will accessibility make brands less unique? No. At least not on its own, and not forever.
Website accessibility is a new venture with a lot left for us all to learn. There are hosts of new ideas such as dyslexia font, along with papers that apparently debunk them. We can’t push the boundaries of accessible design before we understand where those boundaries lie. That means for some time progress may converge on the best solution we have to offer, which is what we’re seeing.
I work with some really great designers, I can tell you two things about them. They’re always looking for what’s next, and what you and I see as roadblocks they see as catalysts that drive inventive solutions.
Accessibility is here to stay, but design will never stop moving.