Universal Usability means that your website can be used by everyone. It encompasses accessibility, but it is even more than that.
What device are they using? Are they on a computer? A tablet? A phone? A TV? What does your website look like to them? How fast does it load? Can they get to everything?
What about if your user has some physical challenge. Let’s start with eyesight. Are they colorblind? Farsighted? Legally blind? Can they read what’s on your site? Is there enough contrast? Is the font big enough? Do your colors work with someone who is colorblind? Do you distinguish things by more than just color? Can the user “read” your site using assistive technology (voiceover)? Is there any information on your site “stuck” in pictures that your user can’t read?
What if your user is deaf or hard of hearing? Do you have videos on your site? Are they closed-captioned?
Let’s suppose your user has to use a keyboard instead of a mouse, whether it’s because they can’t use their hand to control a mouse for a variety of reasons – they don’t have one, it’s injured, they have arthritis and easier to tap keys. Or maybe their mouse is temporarily out of commission. Can they get to everything on your site through the keyboard? Can they jump to the main content? Can they tell where they currently are on the page (keyboard focus)?
What if your user has some cognitive issues? Does the information on your site have a visual hierarchy that makes it easy for them to assimilate information? (It could be as simple as bolding text in each paragraph to let them know what that paragraph is about, like in this post.) Is your site structured in a way that makes it easy for them to find the information they need? Do you have a site map in case they get lost?
Universal Usability is about imagining the people that are coming to your site – how they are accessing it and what challenges they may be dealing with. All the principles that apply to Universal Usability make your site easier to use for everyone. Just like sidewalk ramps help people pushing baby carriages as well as people in wheelchairs. And closed captioning helps people in a noisy room “hear” what is on the TV as well as people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
And that’s a beautiful thing. Those are the kind of sites we strive to create at SimpliCSSity.