Introducing the New Level Access
Feb 1, 2024
This blog post was contributed by Dana Randall, an accessible design expert and member of the Level Access thought leadership team.
Recently, we put our website through a lot of changes. In fact, we reimagined our entire visual identity, from our logo to our color palette. I couldn’t be more excited about this transformation—not only as a designer and a creative director, but also as an accessibility advocate. We’ve created a brand that is as inclusive as it is modern and dynamic.
So, how did we pull it off? In this post, I’ll explain how we approached rebranding with accessibility as our top priority.
Where we started: Our concept
Our brand concept and website are, ultimately, an expression of our core beliefs as a company. So, before we began ideating on logos or color palettes, we had to revisit our guiding principles.
We didn’t have to think too deeply. Level Access exists because accessibility must be an essential part of every digital experience. Every person has a right to barrier-free access to digital technology, and inclusion needs to be a standard consideration in experience design and development—not an afterthought.
We also believe that accessible experiences are more, not less. Embracing accessibility doesn’t mean sacrificing beautiful design and cutting-edge innovation. It means bringing creative concepts to life for all users, not just some.
Where we landed: Our design philosophy
Throughout my career in design, including as a creative director, I have often been rewarded for breaking rules. That’s what won me awards and led others to notice and admire my work. So, I understand why designers may have a fundamental aversion to the concept of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Having a set of clear-cut rules to follow goes against the philosophy that drove much of our success.
But at the same time, my work—like that of most designers I’ve met—is motivated by creating experiences that people love. By keeping accessibility in mind, we enable many more people to enjoy the experiences we design. Once we understand this, we learn we can be more creative when we consider every user’s needs.
This ties back to one of our guiding principles, the belief that inclusivity adds to, rather than detracts from, creative expression. We wanted our new brand to embody this principle, so we started by developing a design framework that was not only unique and contemporary, but also accessible.
We created guidelines for ensuring that all color combinations used on our website, and in our resources, meet WCAG color contrast specifications, and we deliberately chose our go-to fonts for their legibility.
By embedding accessibility in our brand’s visual identity, we aim to enable everyone who visits the Level Access website to fully benefit from its content. And I’m confident our design choices don’t just enrich the experiences of people with disabilities. They result in more intuitive journeys for all users.
Your practical framework for accessible design
Key design elements: The field and the vector
We believe that the work we help our customers do has a life-changing impact on people who use technology. In design, we wanted to capture this belief on a symbolic level. For example, three of our main decorative elements—the field, vector, and focal point—aren’t just there for visual appeal.
The field is the large, round shape you’ll find across our website. Wherever it’s placed, it extends beyond the edges of its frame. It’s meant to represent the entire category of digital accessibility and the human need we’re serving.
The field is always intersected by the vector, a precise, purposeful square or rectangle that represents technology and our drive to improve and innovate.
And the intersection of these two elements is the focal point—where humanity and technology meet to create life-impacting results.
How we got here: Putting principles into practice
At Level Access, we spend a lot of time discussing best practices for creating accessible digital experiences, and our rebrand challenged us to practice what we preach. Here are a few ways we put our shared understanding of, and commitment to, inclusive design into action.
We collaborated continuously
When it comes to inclusive brand design, I’ve learned that no single designer, creative director, or accessibility specialist knows it all. We worked with multiple internal and external teams during our rebrand, from the agency partners who supported our design work to our own professional accessibility testers. By enlisting the help of experts and people with different types of disabilities, we could fill our own knowledge gaps and keep our creative direction aligned with our accessibility goals.
Maintaining a continuous feedback loop with experts also empowered us to swiftly correct for gaps in our initial approach: for example, when our accessibility team identified a need for documentation surrounding accessible button states, we were able to ensure this was created in a timely manner.
We took a proactive and inclusive approach to design planning
As we’ve touched on, accessibility was a key priority for us from the earliest stages of planning our rebrand. While they were still building mood boards and developing color themes, one of our agency partners, Landor, sought my input not only as an accessible design expert but also as a person with a disability. I was able to flag design directions that leaned toward the use of motion and animation, as well as those that used patterns in ways that could trigger people with vestibular disabilities like myself.
We also discussed the accessibility of colors, beyond contrast requirements. I had the opportunity to share best practices for applying color while being mindful of individuals with sensory disabilities, and to identify colors that should be used only as accents.
These early touchpoints allowed us to inject WCAG and inclusive design principles into the very beginning of the planning process. And they helped us shape a visual identity that was vibrant and compelling, as well as inclusive.
We tested for accessibility during web development
Our continuous conversations about accessibility throughout design allowed us to build our new website much more efficiently than we would have had we waited until development was underway. Even so, we confronted a challenge that many of our customers do: limited time. Our internal accessibility team played a key role in helping us work as quickly as possible to bring our new brand identity to life for every user.
One crucial step in this regard was testing the functionality of every component in our library for accessibility barriers. Because many of the same components are repurposed across a website, testing at the component level reduces the number of barriers that need fixing on fully developed pages.
Once the site was built, our testing team also worked diligently to test the most important parts of our website with multiple assistive technologies (AT). Within our commitment to accessibility, our definition of done included no critical accessibility issues. We would not launch the website with any known barriers to users—even if that meant pushing back our launch date.
However, we know that accessibility work is never “done.” Maintaining and improving accessibility over time requires an ongoing effort. If you encounter any challenges or errors, please let us know.
Embracing progress over perfection
We’ll be honest: rebranding was a journey. Mistakes happened, and adjustments needed to be made—and they’ll continue to be made moving forward. But we’re committed to progress over perfection, and we remain dedicated to accessibility and inclusion as we further refine our brand identity.
In fact, while we’re proud of the brand we’ve created, I’m even prouder of the process through which we created it. Inclusive design isn’t just about including all users—it’s about including experts and people with disabilities in your design practice. By enlisting support and remaining open to feedback, we captured our brand’s guiding principles not only in our new visual identity, but also in the path we took to get here.
To learn more about designing for all users, access our guide, Agile Accessibility in UX and UI Design.