The internet is the largest library in the world and has information on almost everything. With just a few clicks, it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for.
But, if your website layout is not accessible to everyone, a lot of people, including those with disabilities, will struggle to find or use your products and/or services. This might make them choose your competitors that have more accessible websites instead.
So, how exactly do you make your website more accessible?
Read on to learn exactly how!
Table of Contents
- What is website accessibility?
- Why Website Accessibility is so important
- Is my current website accessible?
8 Tips To Improve Your Website’s Accessibility
What Is Website Accessibility?
In a nutshell, website accessibility refers to making your site universally accessible. To be exact, entails three things:
- Ensuring that everyone can use your website, including those who have disabilities
- Making sure that assistive software, such as screen readers, can be accessed on your website
- Providing publicly accessible content to support usability such as subtitles
That being said, you’d want to pay close attention to many design elements when making a website more accessible. Some things to check are the website’s code, colors used in the design, font sizes, support for earlier browsers, and more.
Whether you’re a large corporate brand or a small business website, adhering to web accessibility standards should be a top priority. We’ll talk about it more in the next section below.
Why Website Accessibility Is So Important Today
Being socially responsible and having compassion for people with disabilities (PWDs) go hand in hand with having an accessible website. But there’s more to it than that.
Here are some of the reasons why every website owner should have an accessible site:
Following The Law
Making your website accessible ensures that it complies with ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines requirements (WCAG). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in all spheres of public life, including private locations that are deemed to be public accommodations, like the internet.
On top of that, WCAG offers a single common standard and technical specifications so that you can improve the accessibility of your web content for people with disabilities.
To ensure that your website can be used by everyone and lower your risk of being sued, you should comply with the ADA, WCAG, and other web accessibility regulations.
Increased User Satisfaction
By designing a site that’s easy to use and navigate, you can make your website more user-friendly for everyone, not just to people with disabilities.
As a result, you’ll also be able to expand your audience, boost website traffic, and increase your sales potential.
Strengthens The Reputation of Your Brand
Being socially conscious and demonstrating your company’s commitment to inclusivity will ultimately have a positive effect on your reputation. It’s also ideal for creating trust with potential clients, which improves the outcomes of your website marketing campaigns.
Is My Current Website Accessible? How To Check
Understanding how to check the current status of your pages is essential before we discuss tips and actions you can take to design an accessible website. Let’s examine some of the simplest and most widely used choices.
1. Install an accessibility extension for your browser
Downloading and installing a web browser plugin that will automatically check for problems is one option you have for checking the accessibility of your website. Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) is a great extension you can use for Google Chrome.
Users can choose how they interact with web content by using this free and open-source extension. With the help of ARIA, web pages can be more easily used by people with disabilities and are more compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers.
ARIA also offers a set of attributes that you can use to make HTML elements more accessible. The ‘aria-label’ attribute, for instance, can be used to identify an element that is otherwise inaccessible, while the ‘aria-describedby’ attribute can be used to give a description.
2. Utilize a web accessibility tester
Using an online accessibility checker like the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool is one of the quickest ways to examine the accessibility of your website.
On top of a general evaluation, WAVE offers suggestions for how you can make your pages more accessible. The tool can let you know that some images lack alternative text, if there are redundant links, and much more. It can also call your attention to any unclear structural components.
3. Conduct a manual inspection for common accessibility problems
Using a manual approach is another way to look for accessibility issues. Naturally, doing this may take more time than using online tools and extensions.
But, it can be a very thorough approach, especially if you use a checklist. The technique is also free, so all website owners can use it!
The following questions, for instance, are included in the WCAG 2.0 checklist:
- Is all content usable by all users, including those with disabilities?
- Are alternative text tags correctly present on every image?
- Can you navigate the website using only your keyboard?
- Does the website have any audio or video files with transcripts or captions?
- Are there any color contrasts on the website that might be too strong for some users to read comfortably?
These are some ways to check how your current site is doing, and if you find that you do need to work on its accessibility, read on for some advice!
8 Tips To Improve Your Website’s Accessibility
Now that you’re up to date on what accessibility is and why it’s important, let’s go over some best practices to make your site as accessible as possible:
1. Utilize alt-text for your images
Be sure to include alternative text (alt text) that explains any images you use on your website. By doing this, users who use assistive technologies like dictation software and are unable to see the image will still be able to follow the information on the page.
Luckily, it’s not hard to do, especially if you’re using a great managed WordPress hosting platform. You can pretty much just add it by accessing your Media Library.
Another advantage of alt text is that it can be used to improve your website’s search engine visibility. It can help you include popular search terms that are relevant to your images.
2. Use a mobile device to test your website
Mobile user experience and accessibility are closely related and shouldn’t be overlooked.
For instance, if your website works great on desktops but suddenly becomes clunky when used on other devices, it may make your users turn to other pages with better accessibility.
That’s why you should test your website on a mobile device to ensure that your users have an enjoyable browsing experience. You can use tools such as Google Analytics which includes both a mobile-friendliness checker and a mobile page speed analysis tool.
You can also sign up with the best web hosts to make sure that your website runs well on a majority of devices. These web hosts guarantee that your website is always running at its best. Say goodbye to slow and clunky websites and say hello to fast and optimized ones.
3. Avoid using tiny font sizes
It should come as no surprise that reading small print is difficult for those with poor vision. For this reason, it’s important to use a suitable font size on your website.
Aside from making your content more accessible to all users, having large fonts (especially on CTA buttons) are also beneficial for conversions too.
4. Remember to be contrast sensitive
Other than text size, it also pays to consider contrast and color. For those who didn’t know, a symptom of various vision disorders is low color contrast sensitivity. This makes it important to use strong contrast between the foreground and background when designing your web pages. One example of this is by using yellow letters on a black background.
5. Utilize descriptive URLs
For screen reader users and search engine bots, using the phrase “click here” in links is not always helpful.
That’s why you should also consider using text that explains where the link will lead. Descriptive text helps to explain the context of each link, which aids users who are blind or visually impaired to understand and scan links just like sighted users can.
6. Transcribing and adding captions to videos
You should offer captions or transcripts for any videos you post on your website so that users who are hard of hearing or deaf can still enjoy the information. Plus, screen reader users can also consume your content without relying solely on the audio or visual components with closed captioning and text transcripts.
7. Add keyboard navigation
Keyboard navigation is one of the pillars of an accessible website. This is because a lot of assistive technologies only support navigation using the keyboard. Hence, users must be able to use their browsers without a mouse when they’re on your website.
One of the easiest ways to check if your website can be accessed only by keyboard is by going to the front end of your website and exploring the page using the Tab key. The Tab key should allow you to navigate the page by jumping to different places. If it doesn’t, then you probably have some work to do.
8. Reduce your use of tables
Usually, blind users who use screen readers will be made aware of a table’s number of rows and columns. But, it can be difficult for screen readers to read the tabular data in a way that follows the visual order.
But if you have to use tables, you can utilize HTML5 table captions to give your disabled users more context. You must also make sure that your tables have the right headers for your columns and rows.
Why Not Make Your Website More Inclusive?
Making your website accessible is a win-win for everyone. Not only will you be able to provide a more enjoyable browsing experience for your users, but you’ll also be able to attract more potential customers along the way.
By simply following the tips we mentioned, you’ll have a very welcoming website in no time.