Prototype Testing for Accessible Client-Side Routing
March 12, 2019
Update: In July 2019, I worked with Fable Tech Labs to conduct research on client-side routing and accessibility using the prototypes outlined in this post. You can read the results on the Gatsby blog: https://www.gatsbyjs.org/blog/2019-07-11-user-testing-accessible-client-routing/
A talk on this subject was also done as part of the Inclusive Design 24 conference, and can be viewed online: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Tr21FqQQv-U
Since the 2019 CSUN Assistive Technology conference, I've been conducting prototype testing with users with disabilities to learn how to best support accessible navigation of client-rendered websites. My goal is to determine common user preferences amongst the many possible techniques: are there any clear winners?
Except those of us in the community who work with accessibility regularly still can't quite agree on a best practice: should we send focus to a heading, or a wrapper element? Should we announce a page change with ARIA live regions? Even with tools like Reach Router for React, which was developed with accessibility in mind, there are still questions about which technique works best. At Gatsby, we're highly committed to creating accessible defaults that work for users.
So I figured, why not take the opportunity to test with users with disabilities at one of the biggest accessibility conferences in the world (CSUN) and beyond? As a web accessibility advocate, I see broad and lasting value in conducting these tests to determine best practices moving forward. Simply put: no matter the framework, we all stand to benefit.
What are Prototypes?
Prototypes in this case are basic interactive code demos that are mostly identical in content, but differ in user interactions, to test rapidly and provide feedback of what works and what doesn't with minimal investment.
Prototype testing of this nature should 15-30 minutes of your time. Ideally you can pull up my prototypes on your own computer and navigate through them, while I take notes and/or record your experience (with permission, of course).
What I would like to know:
- Which technique is the most ergonomic and intuitive for you?
- Do any of the techniques present barriers that detract from your browsing experience?
Let's make it happen
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this study, please get in touch with me to set up a time to meet:
- Tweet at me: @marcysutton
If you're more interested in providing feedback online than meeting in person, you can also review the prototypes for yourself and then contact me: https://marcy.codes/prototypes/routing/
No matter your feedback preferences, please get in touch. I look forward to working with you!