Guiding principles for design

Remember that accessibility and design are complementary: No matter who your audience is, your Web site should be designed for simplicity and ease of use. Simple Web sites emphasize content over style; however, almost any design can be adapted to comply with the Section 508 standards without sacrificing aesthetics and functionality.

Practice user-centered design: Typically, people are alone when accessing Web content, so Web pages must provide them with guidance and direction. Web pages should be designed with your audience in mind and should be useful and usable, easy, efficient, and engaging. The pages should help your audience accomplish tasks and find what they need.

Organize sites for consistency and clarity: Consistent page layout and navigation, recognizable graphics, and easy-to-understand language benefit all audiences. Use the clearest and simplest navigation and organization appropriate for a site's content and audience.

Test sites: While it is important to test your sites using software tools, such tools do not present a true picture of what it is like for a person to go through your Web pages with or without assistive technology. Always validate both the presentation and content of your Web pages with both people and validation tools.