Accessibility in SharePoint:
Part 2 - Users with anxiety

When we talk about accessibility for online experiences, we often think of designing websites and intranets for people with obvious physical limitations.

However, anxiety and other mental health limitations are on the rise in our society. In fact, Beyond Blue states that anxiety is the most common mental heath issue in Australia. And there are ways we can cater for this important issue when we design a SharePoint intranet. Lets explore some dos and don’ts for designing for users with anxiety.

designing for people with anxiety dos and don'ts infograph

Don't rush people

Even people who do not suffer from anxiety often don’t perform well when an impractical time limit has been imposed on them. This is why it’s really important to make sure we don’t rush anyone through an online process. Accessing services can already feel like a chore, and it can even be even more intimidating when you are required to expose personal information.

So rushing a person with anxiety through a form, an application or a poll may cause the person to abandon the process halfway through. If you need to impose a time limit, make sure it is reasonable.


Explain the next steps

Services that end without any concrete guidance on what will happen next can increase users anxiety. If a person is waiting on the result of an application or request for support or financial aid, it would be unfair to leave them hanging without any indication of if or when their request will be finalised. This example lets the user know they’ve completed the process, but gives no further information.

Always explain what the next step in the process is. For example, once a user hits the submit button, a simple pop up message like this one will let them know they should expect a confirmation email. What we like best about this one is that it also gives guidance on what might be the cause if the email doesn’t come through immediately.

Good thank you message with clear direction on next steps.

Make important information clear

Leaving a user uncertain about the consequences of their actions can make them more anxious. Simple information about services and consequences of engaging with web content is important. If your service needs to warn users about the consequence of their actions, make sure you give them enough information to make the correct decision. This was they can continue so they can continue confidently. We work with our clients to ensure that their intranet content is clear to ensure that organisations are promoting acessibility in SharePoint.

Support users through the process

Users with anxiety are more likely to need extra support to complete a service. Users who cannot complete a service on their own might need support from someone else, so don’t make that help hard to access. This is where a personal chat box may help a user who is having difficulty completing their task. If you don’t have the resources to provide a live chat, there are other options to provide guidance. You could use an info icon or a question mark that provides more information on click or hover.

Question mark vc info icon

Don't leave users questioning their answers

You may have had the confusing experience when you’ve submitted answers to questions online but walked away from your screen before finishing the form. When you get back to the computer, you want to continue your user journey. But something along the way makes you doubt the accuracy of a previous answer. But this form doesn’t let you go back or refresh the page without losing your information. This additional pressure on a user with anxiety can cause them to abandon the process out of fear and/or frustration. Always provide the opportunity to navigate through different sections of the form without losing your progress.

We can also reassure users by giving them the opportunity to check and change their answers before they submit. Without this step, users are less informed which could increase anxiety.

Accessibility in SharePoint for people living with anxiety

Unlike some points of focus for accessibility, anxiety can be masked, and often wreaks havoc on the people who suffer from it which goes unnoticed by the general community. Not only can few businesses can afford to isolate a section of our community, it’s a shame to do so when the steps needed to make life a little easier for people living with anxiety are straightforward.

All of these accessibility ‘dos’ can be supported with a SharePoint intranet design. If you need assistance, Propelle is always here to help.