Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm wondering which one will be more valuable and have more career opportunities. Web usability or web accessibility. Please show statistics or any valid information if possible.

share|improve this question
3  
They are closely related, if not the same. I can't imagine doing accessibility without usability, and no project has perfect usability without accessibility. –  Yisela Nov 12 '12 at 1:03
2  
I would say that Web Accessibility is a part of Web Usability, which in term is a part of Usability wich itself is a part of User Experience. –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Nov 12 '12 at 7:55
3  
I have no data to offer but I have the feeling that there are not that many careers in usability per se, possibly even less than a few years ago. Instead, I come across many job offers for “UX designer”, which I consider to be a very different thing despite what people might say on usability being a part of UX and so on. Many employers seem to be looking for designers who can do the odd usability test on the side rather than for people who specialize in usability techniques. –  Gala Dec 13 '12 at 10:25
    
Worse yet, many job offers suggest that employers are often looking for designers who could somehow create usable things without any test or method – by being empathic, caring about the user, etc. – which runs contrary to everything usability engineering is about. –  Gala Dec 13 '12 at 10:37

3 Answers 3

up vote -1 down vote accepted

Web Usability

  • Bing says 472.000 hits
  • Google says 1,240,000 hits

Web Accessibility

It looks like accessibility has much more impact in the web. If we look for "job" and "last year" too, we see accessibility still gets more hits 220,000 versus 20,200 for usability.

So the winner is accessibility!

Might be of interest :

Edit: I feel the topic is a little heated and there are two main positions:

  1. Seeing Accessibility and Usability as a specific job description or career path (which I attend)
  2. Seeing both as a skill one has or a dedication to.

Anyway, I think one can see it in different technical, practical ways, too. If one reads the job positions carefully its quite obvious.

  1. Usability is mainly in the realms of concept. /Designer
  2. Accessibility has its focus in sphere of source code. /Developer

And, I still believe in the stats I sourced. Even if here isn't the audience of the winner side, but they look quite significant for me. Nowadays, you are downvoted only. Not killed ;) I believe developers are much more searched and needed and higher paid than designers. Even If I'm a believing designer, too.

share|improve this answer
3  
Your line of argumentation is like googling for Cold War to predict the future of peace on earth. Search results reflect first and foremost how much a term has been written about, not how it relates to future career opportunities. –  kontur Dec 13 '12 at 12:19
    
@kontur Sure, never said something different. If you find other kind of statistics about this matter - show it. You can do a Google search for job postings as well with same result. Btw books.google.com/ngrams/… –  FrankL Dec 13 '12 at 18:00
1  
ngrams are great, I merely question how useful of an statistic they can offer to answer this question. Some of the comments point out how accessibility can be considered a part of usability, thus voiding the comparison. This is a matter of point of view and reasoning, even if the OP explicitly asked for statistics, which your answer does very accurately provide. –  kontur Dec 13 '12 at 20:43
2  
"Accessibility" is mentioned more because there are specific federal requirements for it (508 / ADA). There are lots of job postings that mention accessibility as a requirement but very few for whom it is a job in and of itself. See my answer below. –  ElBel Dec 17 '12 at 19:57
2  
Let's also keep in mind that people do not get "Web Usability" jobs, they get "User Experience" jobs, or "UI" jobs, or whatever the buzzword for this year is. This is the kind of field where terminology is everything. –  Rachel Keslensky Dec 17 '12 at 20:10

To create truly great user experiences, one must understand how these, and many other disciplines work together. While some disciplines are co-dependent like usability and accessibility, others are traded off like usability and visual design.

The pioneers (Nielsen/Norman) of the field define user experience as, thus

User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products. The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features. In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company's offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.

Having said that, usability and accessibility isn't one singular discipline, and any job that advertises as such, have a fundamental misunderstanding of what usability and accessibility is.

Interaction designers, user experience designers, information architects, usability consultants... all those job titles... while you may be more specialized in one aspect than the other, they're very closed related, thus allows for a lot of horizontal mobility in the field.

share|improve this answer
1  
But accessibility isn't about design. Its more a sort of quality management job. Or do you bother about having a correct alt-tag in links and images? As a designer? Or usability consultant? I don't think so. Sure job descriptions are changing rapidely, but Usability and Accessiblity are two kinds of cultures. –  FrankL Nov 13 '12 at 9:47
1  
But that's what I'm trying to get at: UX isn't just about design. You may be more well-versed in usability or accessibility, but to put together a great product, you have to understand how these different aspects work together. This is especially true if my client is government-based, or whose majority of the users have a disability where accessibility = usability. –  VevWong Nov 13 '12 at 12:30
3  
Furthermore, design isn't necessarily just visual, and the definition of a disability is so broad in itself. It may be ordering the information (e.g. content before navigation) appropriately so that users with screen readers have a good experience. Or it may be making the font bigger so that our grandparents can read it. So yes, I believe a good designer or usability consultant is definitely mindful of these nuances. –  VevWong Nov 13 '12 at 12:32
    
This sort of general speculation tells us very little on the job market and career opportunities. For example, “interaction designers”, “information architects” or “user experience designers” might often be the ones who are responsible for a product's usability but none of these positions involve a primary focus on usability engineering. Hence I wouldn't call them career opportunities in web usability. If you are only “mindful” of something, this is not your career… –  Gala Dec 13 '12 at 10:29
1  
@GaëlLaurans the thing is that nothing in terms of titles really tell us much about what people are actually doing in their jobs. We all work in an industry with very loose terms for job titles and roles and they vary wildly from job to job, company to company, project to project. So...I guess I agree with what youa re saying, but I also agree that it's always general speculation outside of the very specific context of one particular company/project. –  DA01 Dec 17 '12 at 22:26

Accessibility is part of usability. It's more commonly discussed because the US has official accessibility requirements that must be met to comply with ADA regulations.

Anecdote: I make UX hiring decisions. Having worked at Google, LinkedIn, Groupon, and two startups, we have never hired someone whose title was "accessibility" anything. We have hired lots of Usability Researchers and UX Designers, both of whom are expected to be aware of accessibility issues, design for them, and test for them. (Designers typically have the most ownership at the level where accessibility is planned for and implemented — they'll work with the engineers to make sure those concerns are addressed at several levels of the design.) Engineers also have to be aware of these issues — you can't really roll it into one person's job, because to truly make a site accessibile, everyone throughout the product development stack has to be thinking about it.

Data:

Try searching LinkedIn and other job sites for roles with "accessibility" (1,200) in the title versus "usability" (2,300). My search (http://goo.gl/ykFnm) resulted in very few job titles with "accessibility"; if you search "usability" you can see that it is considered big enough for its own job. Accessibility is mostly not a skill that is big enough for its own role, except in the largest of companies or government organizations.

Either way, you're going to make yourself a much more valuable employee / consultant if you generally know about usability analysis and research and not just accessibility.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.