The accessibility of your site should be one of your top priorities.
Not only will an accessible website enhance user experience for a wider audience, but by demonstrating better accessibility you’ll naturally integrate clarity and ease into the entire user interface – a huge SEO booster.
An inclusive and accessible website makes the entire experience simple, easy and enjoyable for everyone.
What does it mean to be accessible?
This goes further than just being mobile device-friendly. To be accessible relies on creating a user interface and user experience that is universal.
One of the fundamental aims of your website is to provide a good user experience for all, and this should take into account all levels of education, disabilities, literacy level, frequency of internet use (for example, the elderly), cognitive difficulties and visual impairments, to name a few.
Here are 6 points of consideration when designing a universally accessible experience and interface:
Can all of progressions and navigation buttons be accessed using the keyboard alone?
Consider users with limited mobility and motor skills to whom the use of a mouse is out of the question. These users are just as entitled to a positive experience. A journey throughout the site which guides them to finding what they need with minimal effort is achievable with a simple and logical design.
Prior to any website build, a site map will dictate each possible outcome of a user journey. Each possibility should follow a logical progression which can be navigated using the tab and followed with ease. An adequately accessible site means the user can mostly rely on the TAB, SHIFT, and SPACE keys to make a selection, and the arrow pad to navigate their way around.
Flashing graphics and videos can trigger photosensitive seizures such as epilepsy. These should be avoided when adding any moving graphics or videos into your site.
You might also wish to add a layer of subtitles to any embedded videos for the hard of hearing or non-native speakers, which will aid their comprehension of any visual content.
Cognitive disabilities such as dementia and dyslexia can impair the ability to perceive a website well – especially one that is saturated with superfluous content and words.
In addition, those with English as a second language, or with poor literacy skills, may find it difficult to understand long and heavy sentences, or blocks of text.
Keep text minimal, clean and neat and remember to include some white space and headers to help the reader skim through. As for language, avoid jargon or esoteric terminology, which can deflect from your true messaging goals and isolate certain users.
Alt text behind images
Alt text should ideally sit behind every image on your site. Screen readers essentially ‘read’ the image to the user. So an image a black horse would ideally include the alt text ‘image of a black horse’. Not only does this help with your website inclusivity, having sufficient alt text concurs with SEO best practice.
Sufficient colour contrast
Let’s say you have ‘call to action’ button or navigation bar in your signature blue colours – a dark blue button with light blue text. Sure, you might be able to read what the button says perfectly well, but what about the visually impaired? Perhaps a contrasting white or yellow be more appropriate?
Best practice dictates that your colour palette uses a sufficient colour contrast. For example, a pale lime green font on a white background is never going to pass accessibility standards. If you’re unsure, you can use this colour contrast checker.
Up to one in twelve people suffer with some form of colour-blindness, but contrasting colours will also help those with cognitive difficulties to digest any text. So opt for a colour that stands out, and test how this looks on different devices and screen brightness.
Text and fonts
Most devices will resize the text on webpages but it’s important to build your website to support this feature to avoid glitches or broken pages.
Also consider your font choice. While you might prefer the look of a font and feel it lends itself to your design, over-styled fonts can be difficult to read, even for people without visual impairments and cognitive difficulties. One of the most accessible fonts is Arial, along with Calibri, Century Gothic, Helvetica, Tahoma and Verdana. You will notice that these are void of any unnecessary styling that could compromise comprehension
The sheer vastness of the internet can difficult to comprehend. With millions of blog articles and hours of video content upload every minute, both users and search engines are becoming better at spotting content that doesn’t provide what they’re looking for quickly, accurately, and simply.
It’s this interaction between the user and a website that determines value, and it contributes to how search engines identify the most useful and proficient websites.
An inclusive user experience is becoming one of the most important aspects of a high performing site. Website accessibility standards must be met if you want to protect your reputation and your SEO. The internet is a universal platform. And for businesses that wish to broaden their reach globally, their content should be created for a universal audience. That means removing all potential barriers that could interrupt or inhibit the experience and journey of your users.