Save user data when re-authenticating

It may be essential for your users to re-authenticate their identity for certain functions. For example, you might set a login to expire after a certain amount of time in case a user leaves their computer unattended in the middle of a purchase.

While your website will rightly use this function for your users’ security, you can help your users by saving all information entered by the user. When they re-authenticate (such as logging back in) you can display whatever data they had already entered.

What to do

  • When you ask a user to re-authenticate their identity, the user can continue exactly as before with saved data (for example, their shopping basket contents, input into forms or accessibility options).
  • Things like surveys and questionnaires can be saved and completed at a later date.

Tips

If you do ask your users to re-authenticate after a certain amount of time, consider whether your use of a time limit is justified under Guideline 2.2.1 and Guideline 2.2.3.

See also

Don’t interrupt your users

Some of your users will have difficulty maintaining their focus and attention; interrupting their experience may impact their understanding of your content. You can avoid this by eliminating interruptions.

What to do

  • Don’t use an automatic redirect or refresh function based on a time delay (for example, if a webpage has moved, do not redirect users to the new page after a certain amount of time).
  • Provide an option for turning off all but ‘essential’ interruptions (see below).

Tips

The best thing you can do is eliminate all interruptions by default. Allow your users to interact with webpages naturally and don’t try to surprise or manipulate them. If you can’t capture your users’ interest without a pop-up, you have bigger problems than Level AAA.

If you must use a pop-up, make sure that keyboard focus is on the window-closing ‘X’ icon in the corner that closes the pop-up. This means keyboard users can close the new window. When they do close it, return focus to the place on the page they were at before the pop-up appeared.

Exceptions

Warnings about a user’s health, safety or the security of their data or property as they are considered ‘essential’ (I’m not sure how a website would know if your house was about to explode, but let’s not ban it from trying to tell you!).

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No time limits on your website

If any of your content is time-controlled, you risk losing users who need more time to read and understand the information on your website.

Time-controlled content is anything on your website that expires or becomes unusable by your users after a certain time. A common example is giving a user ten minutes to fill in and send a form. There are functional reasons to set time limits, but you must consider all of your users.

What to do

This guideline builds on Guideline 2.2.1. That guideline (at the lower Level A standard of compliance) requires you to offer users a chance to turn off or extend time limits. At Level AAA, this guideline requires that you do not set time limits at all (with two exceptions below).

Exceptions

You can set a time limit if:

  • The time limit is due to real-time events, like bidding in an auction.
  • Your content is a live video stream.

See also

Provide user controls for moving content

How many times have you visited a website that tries to get your attention with movement? Your eyes catch the scrolling text or a blinking advert, and you take notice for a second or two. More often than not, what you looked at wasn’t why you were visiting the website.

You try to return to what you were doing, except now it’s harder to focus because the movement is in the corner of your eye. You end up leaving the website because you can’t complete what you started.

That’s the effect of scrolling and blinking content on your average user and that’s enough of a reason to avoid it altogether. Now, consider the effect on your users with reading or concentration difficulties. I hope that you can understand why you must provide your users with controls to pause moving content.

What to do

  • Moving, blinking or scrolling content must have an option to pause, stop or hide it; and
  • Auto-updating content must have the same options; or
  • An option to control frequency (see Guideline 2.2.1 for advice).

Tips

The guideline is more forgiving than I am. It lets you offer your users a pause option, but I suggest you remove anything that moves, scrolls or blinks altogether.

It also covers auto-updating content, which is where the strength of the guideline lies. Auto-updating content can be great. You could use it to show the latest sports scores, share prices or your Twitter feed. While the guideline applies to all moving, blinking and scrolling content, I’d love to see you eliminate all but auto-updating content.

Exceptions

You can ignore the rules of moving content if:

  • The moving content does not start automatically, without user interaction.
  • Your moving, scrolling or blinking content lasts less than five seconds.
  • The information is not parallel with content but separate (for example, a full-page advert displayed before users reach your webpage).
  • The movement is an animation that runs to show your users that something is loading, if it would otherwise look like your website was frozen.

See also

Time limits have user controls

If any of your content is time-controlled, you risk losing users who need more time to read and understand the information on your website.

Time-controlled content is anything on your website that expires or becomes unusable by your users after a certain time. A common example is giving a user ten minutes to fill in and send a form. There are functional reasons to set time limits, but you must consider all of your users.

What to do

  • If your website uses a time limit:
    • Give your users an option to turn off the time limit before it begins (for example, a landing page before the time-controlled page can display a message that shows your customers what to do); or
    • Give your users the option to adjust the time limit before it begins, over a range of at least ten times the default setting (you can do this with a landing page too); or
    • Give your users the option to extend the period at least twenty seconds before it expires. This must be a simple action like clicking a button and must be available to use at least ten times.
  • If your website has moving or animated text, users must be able to pause the movement.
  • If your website has a feature that updates automatically (for example, with the latest football scores), you must allow your users to delay the frequency of the updates by at least ten times the default setting.

Tips

  • Take as much content outside of time limits as possible.
  • Make sure any user controls you provide are keyboard accessible.
  • If you use a pop-up to give your users the option to extend a time limit, consider Guideline 2.2.4.

Exceptions

There are some valid exceptions to Guideline 2.2.1, because sometimes you must set time limits for your website or business to work.

You do not need to provide the above controls if:

  • The time limit is due to real-time events, like bidding in an auction.
  • Your content is a live video stream.
  • The time limit is essential for your business. For example, a ticket sales website that saves a reservation for ten minutes because demand is high and giving users unlimited time would undermine the business process.
  • The time limit is more than 20 hours.

See also