User testing versus automated testing for accessibility
Testing is an important part of making sure your product is accessible. There are different types of audits you can do on your website or app, so it can be hard to know where to start.
You may be wondering about the differences between these audits, and which is better. Whatever you decide to do, it’s best to think about it from the start of a project. This will mean that you can find issues along the way. If you leave it to the end, you may spend more money and time fixing complicated issues.
User testing for accessibility
User testing means that disabled website testers check the accessibility of your website.
We use disabled website testers at every stage of building a website. They are involved from the initial design to the final development phase. These audits check that people can access the website using, for example:
- screen readers
- keyboard tabbing
- voice commands
With this method, you have access to people with a variety of impairments. They can give you insight into lived experiences of disability and website barriers. They can tell you problems that a piece of software will not notice.
One disadvantage is that it takes more time and money. If you are limited, you can test specific user journeys with this method. This means you can test some pages that are often used instead of your whole website. For example, you could test:
- looking for and buying a specific product
- navigating the contact page
- filling out a form
Scope supports organisations with disabled consumer research.
Automated testing for accessibility
Automated testing is done using a piece of software to scan through a website. These can be online or downloaded depending on the software.
Testing software checks if a website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This is very helpful to check specific accessibility issues. For example:
- low contrast text
- missing alternative text for images
- empty links
- missing form input labels
- missing document language
Using automated testing for these issues means that they can be all found at once. It lets you check the whole website so you can fix the issues without missing any. This removes the possibility of human error as these could be easy to miss. Especially if testers have used the website a lot and are familiar with the user journeys.
Combine both methods for best results
Combining user testing and automated testing will give you the most information.
User testing will give you:
- direct information from disabled people about accessibility
- direct knowledge about the customer experience
- an opportunity to test functions that cannot be tested automatically
Automated testing will give you:
- an overview of issues to fix so that you can meet the WCAG standards
We use three different testing methods to be confident.
- An automated test to check for errors on the website.
- A technical manual review by an expert team member. This is to check for things an automated test would miss.
- Disabled user-testers who navigate the full website. This is to check it’s accessible and usable.
Visit HeX productions to find out more about their work.