Design evaluation finding types relate to the design and/or design process. The finding type tells you where the issue comes from in the design or design process. In a design evaluation report, each finding falls under one of the following finding types:
- Design flaw
- Not designed
- Not documented
- Best practice
This article explains each finding type with examples.
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A design flaw is an element that’s designed in a way that doesn’t meet a success criterion of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
For example, paragraph text that is of normal size (14 point font / 19 CSS pixels) needs to have a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5 to 1 with its background in order to meet success criterion 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum). The following image is an example of paragraph text that fails this requirement. The low contrast would be categorized as a design flaw.
Not designed applies to any finding where a required design aspect should be in the design but isn’t. A required design aspect is a part of the design that’s needed to meet WCAG success criteria.
For example, design systems typically include the design for a button’s default state and its hover state. But they should also include the design of a button’s focus state so they meet certain WCAG success criteria, such as 2.4.7 Focus Visible. The following image is an example of designs for a button that don’t include a focus state. A button without a focus state design is categorized as not designed.
Not documented applies to elements without documentation that would help other team members (like designers, content authors, developers, etc.) understand content, behavior, and / or interactions. The purpose of this category is to help facilitate the handoff from design to development.
For example, some components and pages require documentation regarding the order that elements should be read. It is not always clear to teammates downstream of design how to interpret the reading order of a component or page, especially when there are many possible solutions. Success criterion 1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence requires that the reading order of any component or page is meaningful and logical. In the Western World, this sequence should typically follow a left-to-right, top-to-bottom structure in line with how most people read.
For example, in the following image of a product card, it’s difficult to figure out the appropriate reading order. There are a few logical sequences:
- Cardigans and Sweaters > Playtime Sweater > SKU# > Sale Price > You Save > Total > Hot Deal > Quantity > Add to Cart
- Cardigans and Sweaters > Playtime Sweater > Hot Deal > SKU# > Quantity > Sale Price > You Save > Total > Add to Cart
A member of the design team (likely the UX designer) should document the intended order. If this design was submitted for a design evaluation and it didn't have reading order instructions, the finding would be categorized as not documented.
A best practice is a recommendation that improves the accessibility of an element. Best practices aren’t needed to meet a WCAG success criterion but improve the experience for some users. In some cases, best practices are a AAA WCAG success criterion.
For example, with WCAG success criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships, developers are responsible for correctly marking up lists so that users of assistive technologies understand the semantics of the list and the implied relationships. They need to identify whether it’s an ordered list, an unordered list, or a definition list because each type of list has certain code requirements. Sometimes it’s easy to identify the type of list based on the list's content, but that isn’t always the case. Design teams should style lists according to best practices of list design to optimize usability and accessibility. List design best practices include:
- Indent each list item.
- Use numbered lists for content that has a hierarchy / order.
- Use bulleted lists for unordered content.
For example, the following image is an example of a list of recipe ingredients for protein pancakes. It doesn’t follow list design best practices because it’s not indented and doesn’t use bullets. A screen reader would read each item as a new line of paragraph text. This finding would be categorized as a best practice.
- Design evaluations overview
- Request a design evaluation
- Use design evaluation finding results
- How should I prioritize design remediation?
For questions about your design evaluation results, request support from a technical accessibility expert.
To get started with an evaluation, request a design evaluation.