Designing for Accessibility: A Case Study in Digital Product Development

1 month ago
Designing for Accessibility: A Case Study in Digital Product Development Image

Boulder CO—Good Nutrition Inc. & InspiringApps Partnership Creates an Accessible Meal-Planning App

Meal-planning apps present unique accessibility challenges for users with disabilities. Ensuring apps are designed with accessibility in mind is not only the ethical and legal responsibility of brands—it also makes good business sense.

“Accessibility has a clear ROI. With accessible apps, you attract a larger user base.” 

The Good Nutrition Ideas app, My Meals, My Way, stands out in the saturated market of food and calorie tracking by focusing on enabling users to become their own nutritionists. Applying a science-backed, fun “plug and play” approach, it offers personalized meal planning for individual health management.

A person stands in a grocery store aisle, looking at their smartphone while holding it with both hands. Shelves stocked with various products are visible in the background.

Client Background

The client, Good Nutrition Ideas, is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting healthy lifestyles. Their mission is to empower people with disabilities and older adults with nutritional support needs. The mobile app My Meals, My Way was created in collaboration with InspiringApps to aid in this mission, streamlining meal planning and responding directly to diverse and complex dietary needs.

Project Goals & Challenges

The primary objective of this project was to create a digital platform that makes meal planning accessible to everyone, including users with disabilities. Embracing WCAG, W3C, and Apple Accessibility for Developers, the team followed a strict and comprehensive list of standards, which included the POUR principles:

  • Perceivable: Information is presented in multiple ways (for example, text descriptions for images, captions, good color contrast).
  • Operable: Users can navigate and interact with the app using various methods (e.g., clear structure, descriptive links, and keyboard accessibility).
  • Understandable: The app’s interface and content are easy to comprehend (in other words, clear instructions, consistent design, and plain language).
  • Robust: It is compatible with various assistive technologies and user needs (e.g., descriptive metadata and accessibility testing).

A key challenge involved structuring the founders’ extensive knowledge of food types and meal portions into a back-end data system that could be translated into a clear and accessible UI for users with assistive technologies.

Design & Development Process

The InspiringApps team—comprised of development, design, and project management professionals—worked hand-in-hand with Good Nutrition Ideas to bring the My Meals, My Way app to life. The success of our development process was driven by weekly check-ins with the client from start to completion, with design and development teams working closely together. The team used wireframes early on and conducted regular accessibility audits of the codebase and user interface, using cutting-edge Apple tools to ensure a comprehensive, efficient, and repeatable testing process.

The app’s development was characterized by its iterative nature, allowing for ongoing improvements. Key questions were addressed throughout, such as the design and development approach stressing a user-focused methodology and regular pivot points to integrate feedback, including accessibility feedback.

A three-panel graphic detailing

Inclusive Design Features

The app development and design were driven by a commitment to both accessibility and user feedback. Inclusive features include:

  • Custom Profiles: Users can create profiles unique to their dietary and eating needs, which adds a sense of personalization.
  • Animated Tutorial Videos: Embedded videos guide users through using parts of the app. They include AI-generated voiceovers and captions for added accessibility.
  • Dynamic Type: Compatible fonts and scalable UI elements give users the ability to set preferred reading sizes.
  • Text Descriptions & Captions: All images include text descriptions for users with visual impairments, while closed captions and transcripts accompany video content.
  • High Color Contrast: Additional tones have been added for higher color contrast, in case a user has that accessibility setting turned on their native phone.
  • Operable Navigation: The app features a clear structure with headings and descriptive links and is fully navigable via keyboard inputs.
  • Intuitive User Experience: The app is crafted to be understandable, with clear directions, consistent design, and plain language throughout the platform.

“The content presented in the app is highly dependent on the user’s unique profile and needs, and there are clear actions that are suggested based on the time of day. I also implemented animated tutorials that guide the user on how to use certain parts of the app. So the storytelling piece is brought into that as well.”

Rigorous Accessibility Testing

To ensure the app’s accessibility for all users, the team employed a comprehensive testing approach that combined automated tools, accessibility audits, user feedback, and quality assurance (QA) across multiple platforms and teams.

A woman and a man with Down syndrome wearing aprons stand together in a kitchen, smiling and looking at a tray with various bread items. The man holds a knife, ready to cut the bread.

Results & Impact

Empowering users to take control of their dietary needs, My Meals, My Way concentrates on nurturing self-sufficiency in nutrition and fostering support systems by enabling users to effortlessly share their dietary plans with caregivers, enhancing compliance and enjoyment of meals. Currently available for iOS and iPad devices, My Meals, My Way extends its reach with a free month trial, encouraging users to experience comprehensive support for healthy living first-hand.

“Working with the InspiringApps team of designers and developers was an excellent first app experience for us. They were already familiar with accessibility issues in apps and app development, and they continued to learn and deliver on this app directed at people with disabilities. We anticipate working with them again, which is the best recommendation there is!”

The app’s development was partly supported by a notable grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), underscoring its commitment to accessibility and empowerment for individuals with disabilities.

Get the App

Improve your health and quality of life by simplifying healthy, balanced eating with My Meals, My Way. Download My Meals, My Way here, on the App Store.

Your app is our mission.

Are you a startup or non-profit organization interested in building exceptional digital projects? IA Commits offers an option to have your project completed onshore at a reduced price. Create a prototype to gather feedback from users about your next big idea. Improve the communities in which we work and live. Pair our talent with your mission.
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