Accessibility is and has always been, an important part of website design. As technology evolves, we are beginning to view websites on various devices, such as smartphones, tablets and even smartwatches.
These changes in consumer habits create a need to revisit accessibility and its importance for web users, businesses and beyond. By definition, accessibility is…
“The fact of being able to be reached or obtained easily”.– Cambridge Dictionary
When we look at this definition and apply it to our lives on the internet, we can see how relevant this can be for our experience online.
I’m sure you’ve experienced a time where you’ve been browsing the internet on your phone and you find that you can’t press on a web link, because the button is too small.
Maybe you’ve been reading an article on your laptop and there are so many pop-ups, you can barely scroll on the page.
These are all example of poor accessibility within web design. It can be argued that such experiences, like difficulty when clicking a link or annoying pop-ups, are just things you brush off. Yet, for some it can actually be a major barrier to their overall journey on a website, ultimately leading to their time as a visitor null and void.
Those who have visual impairments and rely on resources such as screen reader to navigate the web is just one example of a group of people being blocked access to a website due to poor design.
Why do you need to consider website accessibility?
We know there are millions of websites on the internet, so why do you need to worry about yours?
You are literally one in a million!
Although there is a much bigger responsibility for larger corporations to set an example by creating their websites to be the most accessible and user-friendly as possible. That doesn’t mean that small business owners don’t have a duty to provide a seamless experience for their website viewers.
Let’s explore some of the key reason you should have a website that considers the accessibility of various users. And as a bonus, I’ll point out why making these changes can not only benefit the user in need of an accessibility feature but also provide great benefits for your business.
a. Google loves it
Recently, Google announced that they will be making changes to the way they rank web pages in search engine results. From March 2021, a key focus for Google will involve the user-friendliness of websites. To find out more on this topic you can visit Google’s developer page where they outline all changes in detail. Alternatively, you can visit Darrel Wilson’s YouTube channel for more information on the changes.
Accessibility Benefit: Google creating this new standard encourages more website to adapt and implement the necessary accessibly changes, meaning users can have a more positive experience online.
Business Benefit: Your website has the potential to be ranked higher on Google, meaning you increase your chances of reaching a wider audience.
b. it’s just ethical
Some parts of this topic may seem technical to some, however when you strip the jargon down to basic English, it just makes sense.
Accessibility is simply a way to…make your business easy for everyone.
All we need to do as business owners is to make our website easy to use for as many users as possible. We have access to so many resources it’s almost unacceptable to be on the internet and indirectly discriminate against others with a website they can’t benefit from.
Accessibility Benefit: Users with accessibility needs feel welcomed when they land on a user-friendly website, and this can leave a positive first impression.
Business Benefit: Your potential customers know right away that you make an effort to include everyone just from their experience on your website, helping to strengthen your ethical values as a business.
How to make your website more accessible
There are many ways you can implement accessibility into your website. Some of which, we will explore in this blog. It’s important to mention that as a designer myself, I have to point out that it is a good practice to build your website with accessibility in mind from the beginning.
An approach like this means your website is created with the needs of all users in mind, from the first line of code to launch day. With this perspective, you can avoid the tasks of having to go back into your website at a later date and make changes that could have been applied from day one.
1. Image Alt Text
Every great website has a collection of images that illustrates the business or any other venture being explored. Think of blogger, content creators or online courses. The list is endless. Images are a key part of building an interactive website. Images can often speak louder than words, which can become a challenge for those users who are unable to view an image.
For this reason, every single image on your website, that isn’t purely decorative, should contain an alternative ‘Alt’ text for those who are unable to visually see the image. Most websites have the option to add an alt text quite easily to the image.
All you need is a simple, visual description of what the image contains so that anyone not able to view an image can still make sense of your content.
If you’re not sure what your current alt texts are, a quick way to overview your website’s SEO is by using a great google chrome extension called SEO Meta in 1 CLICK. This will show you all the alt texts on a given web page.
Alternatively, you can copy this code snippet to use on your own website.
<img src=" https://unsplash.com/photos/cEiCBMK_Ob8 " alt=" black framed sunglasses beside white apple keyboard and white ceramic mug photo”>
<img src="img.jpg" alt="insert alt text here”>
2. Font Size
Various font sizes can be present on a single webpage. Creating heading and texts that are easy to read on any devices is key to adapting to a more accessible website experience.
A good practice is to size your fonts in descending order from the first heading down to the main body of text. For example, your H1 title will be the biggest and H2 title will be slightly smaller and so on.
Something I have learned as a web designer is that it might be worth considering using ‘em’ as a measure of font size as this can be scaled to size depending on the user’s screen, as opposed to using ‘px’ (pixels).
3. Colour Contrast
The colours you use on your website may first be determined by your brand. However, despite which brand colours you choose, it is always the top priority to make sure that any colours you are using do not conflict with one another.
This is more important when you are using text on top of a coloured background. The image below demonstrates how a text can be very difficult to read when not contrasted well with its background colour.
A great website to use is Colour Contrast Checker as you can check whether the two colours you wish to use have a good contrasting ratio. The colour contrast checker website also has a handy chrome extension that can help identify contrasting colours on any web page.
4. Keyboard accessible
Another consideration when it comes to website accessibility is the fact that some users may not have the ability to use a mouse.
In this case, we need to make sure that our website is keyboard accessible. Simply put, we need to ensure that uses can interact with your website by using the keyboard alone. Most keyboard accessible users will make use of the Tab key to navigate a website. You can check if your website is keyboard accessible by clicking the Tab key and observing how it selects aspects of your website.
5. Website scalability
In addition to having a website that has readable contrasted colours and alt text for images, it’s also important to ensure that your website is responsive when being enlarged. This can occur on a desktop, tablet or mobile device.
The key here is to ensure that when people are zooming into your webpage that the website does not become distorted or broken, meaning that users are not able to interact with your website once enlarged.
You can try this yourself by zoom in to your own website and see how easy it is to navigate.
6. Multimedia Captions
With the rise of video marketing, it has now become more important than ever to ensure video and audio content is accessible to viewers. For example, you may create a YouTube video that you wish to feature on your website.
A great way to make your video more accessible would be to add captions, meaning that viewers can read what you are saying, even if they do not have the ability to listen.
YouTube has a great feature that gives you the ability to generate subtitles or closed captions automatically. You can then embed your video onto your website and provide it to viewers with your desired content knowing that you have made it accessible to all.
7. Mobile Responsive
Last but not least, is the importance of mobile responsiveness. 80% of website visits are carried out by mobile users. With this in mind, it would be wise for businesses to adapt their websites to be more accessible for users on smartphones.
Having a mobile-first design means that everything is being built with a mobile user in mind. Not only does this improve the accessibility of your website, but it also helps you to increase your reach to those people who find using a mobile device more convenient.
When you look at your website on a phone, is everything easy to read? Are all images displayed clearly? Do have the ability to navigate between pages?
These are some key questions that you can ask yourself to assess whether your website is being displayed well on mobile devices or not.
If you wish to make your website user-friendly, meaning more people can access your business, then adopting best practice with website accessibility is the way forward.
Interested in talking about building your website to overcome such challenges, then I invite you for a free no-obligation chat where we can discuss your business and ways to get your website to reach future prospects with ease. Feel free to book a no-obligation discovery call to see how I can help you.