Accessibility and the Anaplan UX

davewaller
Regular Contributor

global-communication-network-concept-picture-id1064982786 (1).jpgAccessibility is something we in the Product Team are getting asked about more and more often—and not just from customers with a legal obligation to deliver accessible solutions to their users. Internal cultures have been changing, and organizations see inclusivity as a must when procuring solutions and building experiences for their users and stakeholders.

When you move an implementation over to the Anaplan UX, it can help you spread the use of Anaplan in your organization to more contributors, planners, and decision-makers. Democratizing your planning process in this way is a fantastic way to get faster inputs, more complete review, and increased confidence in your decisions. But, as you deploy your build to more and more users, your responsibility to deliver an experience that all of them can use becomes increasingly important.

Luckily, the Anaplan UX has been designed with accessibility at its core, and there's a range of features available to you to ensure that the pages you build are as accessible as possible.

What Do We Mean By 'Accessibility'? 

Globally, around 1 billion people have some form of disability; that's around 15% of the population. To put this into perspective, this means that 1 in 4 people in the U.S. (61 million adults) and 1 in 5 people in the U.K. (13.9 million adults) have some potential need for assistance when using digital products.

Additionally, the retirement age continues to rise for working adults meaning more and more people are likely to work well into their late 60s. Nearly half of all people over the age of 60 (46%) have some type of disability.

When we talk about accessibility, we mean that we build products to be usable by everyone, including those with disabilities. We have to ensure that when designing products and services, we don't make it more difficult (or impossible) for them to be used by everyone.

Accessibility Creates Great Usability

The nice thing when thinking about accessibility first is that it results in creating great experiences that are useful for everyone. For example:

  • Have you ever wanted to check your messages on your phone in bright sunlight?
  • Have you wanted to read a newspaper, but an eye infection means you can't wear your contact lenses?
  • Have you ever tried to submit your voter registration or a tax return, but it's your first time using the website and it's confusing?
  • Have you ever tried to dial a phone number, but you're so cold that your hands are shaking?
  • Have you ever injured your wrist or arm, making it more difficult to use a mouse or trackpad?

If you can answer yes to any of these, then you have had a need for some accessibility feature—maybe without even realizing it.

How Can the Anaplan UX Help?

Accessibility has been baked into everything we do when it comes to the design and development of the Anaplan UX, and this can be traced back through the development process all the way to the definition of functionality and experience.

Accessibility Personas

We use personas to help us design and validate our user experience against the key, known user types such as a "contributor," a "planner," and an "executive," but we also have a range of personas with additional needs that help us ensure that these needs are at the forefront of the entire design and development process.

In total, we currently have five accessibility personas, including Keith and Edith.

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You can read more about how we use personas in this Medium article by our Anaplan Design System Lead, Mark Boyes-Smith.

Anaplan Design System

One of the challenges when designing experiences is providing consistency as users move across different aspects of the product. Think of a user moving from Anaplan.com to the UX and then to Anapedia. To help us solve this challenge we've built out an internal design system that provides a set of rules, guidelines, and shared components that we use across our product to ensure consistency.

One of the great things about the Anaplan Design System is that accessible components have been considered from the beginning; everywhere we use it inherits this accessibility support and helps us to deliver an exceptional experience for all of our users.

Accessibility in the UX

Having a fantastic range of user personas, coupled with a strong and accessible design system as part of the foundations of the UX, we can enable you with building accessible solutions for your users.

Interface Colors and Text Styles

We’ve been very careful with color selections and typefaces across the interface to ensure readability for all users, including those with a range of visual impairments. We’ve even used specific typeface variants for the display of numbers in grids to ensure that everything aligns in a readable way.

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Chart Colors

We’ve applied this thinking to things like the default chart colors as well. Not only do they contrast clearly against the background of the chart, but when they display next to each other (like in a pie chart), there’s sufficient contrast between them that differentiation is easy.

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Keyboard Navigation

We’ve worked on keyboard navigation mechanisms to make it easier for users who don’t use a mouse or trackpad to interact with the product, and we’ve even added mouse-free interactions for things like pivoting, which would traditionally be a drag-and-drop experience.

Grid Zoom Options

When using worksheets, users can opt to show grid data in a range of sizes. Users who like loads of data and don't mind slightly smaller text can go for "small," while those that prefer larger text and a little more space can choose "large."

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Design for Neurodiversity

We’ve also been very conscious to design for neuro-diversity. You’ll notice the use of animations and visual transitions is subtle and never without purpose, and where we do use animations and UI elements that automatically dismiss themselves, we’ve carefully timed these to be as accessible as possible for all users.

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New, Accessible Features

We’ve even added some new features to the New UX that, as well as being awesome for all users, were born out of explorations in becoming more accessible. Take the new conditional formatting styles for example. “Border” allows you to use traditional conditional formatting with the reassurance that values will always maintain contrast and be readable, while “morse” is a unique feature that takes conditional formatting and makes it usable for users with a wide range of visual impairments making trend analysis and anomaly detection far easier.

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Accessibility is a Journey...

...And we recognize we're not there yet. Accessibility support is a journey, and we're committed to doing more.

Over the coming months, we'll be working with a range of accessibility specialists to target the areas of the product where we can add more to support users with a range of needs. As we work through this process you'll see incremental enhancements available as soon as they're ready, and we'll drive towards both a more accessible product and a clear declaration of our intent in this area.

More importantly, this process will continue to arm us with all of the skills, knowledge, and expertise we need to make sure that when we say "all planning for all people" we can be confident that we really mean all people.

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