Blutui is a web design platform for creative agencies developed by a creative agency. We spoke with our friends Blutui about embracing the accessibility challenges (& opportunities) faced by digital design practice today.
Design impacts people’s ability to participate in society.
The #AccessLaw2020 lobby aims to pass legislation later this year to ensure, Kiwi businesses make accessibility a priority. As part of this, creative agencies will need to consider the accessibility of their client’s websites.
In a project tagged internally as ‘love at first site’ the challenge for the Blutui team is to hardwire accessibility principles, best practice guides and compliance considerations into current web design workflows.
Blutui’s design and development team sought insight from Access Advisors founder Dr Chandra Harrison and vision-impaired photographer Shane Davies to shape Blutui’s future direction in enabling and promoting accessible websites.
“We wanted to uncover exactly what accessible design best practices could be built into the Blutui platform”, says Jayan Ratna, lead UX designer for Blutui. “The aim is to equip Blutui agency designers and developers with the tools they need to deliver accessible sites without compromising on creativity or performance”.
“Sadly, few sites in New Zealand are fully compliant”, according to Dr Harrison. She says, “There are a few banks, larger corporates and government agencies working toward voluntary compliance, but for the majority of New Zealand businesses becoming accessibility compliant quickly will be a challenge. If platforms like Blutui deliver tools to make building in accessibility more efficient and achievable for the creative industry, it will be an exciting step forward for both business and the community. Many businesses are currently missing out on potential engagement from the 25% of the community whose online needs aren’t currently being met”.
Shane is a freelance travel and lifestyle photographer, working to share his unique worldview with the advertising and creative community. Challenging given his partial sightedness but Shane is determined, technically competent and driven to be part of the change needed by his community. Shanes view is that what’s great for low vision users can only be good for everyone. “The daily struggles I endure are similar to those of some elderly, fatigued and dare I say it, on occasion inebriated consumers”, Shane says with a smile.
Graeme Blake, Blutui CEO, said the love at first site project began with “Design Assembly shining a light on the issue”. They investigated issues around design accessibility, and identified “the opportunities and positive effect we could have by helping our users deliver a great experience to vision challenged Kiwi consumers”. Graeme said “I’m embarrassed to admit that when Chandra reviewed the Blutui site it failed on quite a few fronts but that provides good insights for us as we design for the future of not just the app but the industry itself”.
James Star from Agility Cycle is energised by the prospect of working with the Blutui platform, “I’ve been watching Blutui’s progress for some time now and it’s really exciting to see a professional tool like this coming out of New Zealand,” says James. “The ease of use and fit for the creative agency business is key to Blutui’s success and having been a WordPress and Squarespace user for years I’ve flipped”.
“This is a journey we are committed to, it will provide a practical industry tool that enables creative agencies and front end developers to embrace accessibility best practice without compromising on creative freedom”, says Blutui CTO Charlie Cooper. “We are open to any agencies interested in being involved in the project to contact us”.
Get your first sight.
Blutui will be giving a live demonstration at our upcoming accessibility focused Autumn conversations event in Auckland, come along and learn more about the platform and the ‘love at first site’ project. If you are unable to attend to see the demo in first hand Jayan, Charlie, Graeme and the Blutui team are incredibly keen to hear from you and chat more with Aotearoa agencies and developers about the platform, so don’t be shy to get in touch with them directly.