Did you consider accessibility when designing your website?

Ensuring your website is accessible to all users is not just a nice to have. It’s critical. After all, 16% of the world’s population experience significant disability (WHO).

Accessibility is a crucial aspect of good design as it maximises the number of people who are able to interact with it. It ensures that all people, regardless of disability, are able to access and understand the information on your website. If your website isn’t accessible, you risk creating a poor experience, alienating your audience, or even losing potential customers.

Creating an accessible website requires consideration of many different elements, and this can take time and effort to achieve. But creating a more accessible website doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s about getting started that’s important.

Let’s consider some of the ways you can make your website more accessible.

Do you use Alt text in your images?

It’s important to add alt text to all images you use on your website. That’s because visually impaired people often rely on assistive technologies when using a website, and this technology uses alt text to interpret and communicate the meaning of images and graphical objects. Without alt text, the assistive technology cannot read what’s displayed for images or graphics.

Moreover, alt text is simple to add. Most website platforms have an option to add alt text when you upload a new image. If you don’t add any alt text, you can always go back and add it later.

It’s not enough to just add alt text. To create a good experience, it’s important to consider the words you use. Ensure the alt text describes the image and communicates the meaning to users.

Do you ensure high contrast between text and background?

Poor colour contrast is one of the most common website accessibility issues. In fact, 86.4% of home pages have low contrast text, which falls below the WCAG 2 AA thresholds (webAIM).

Poor colour contrast can make text difficult to read or completely illegible, even for people without disabilities. So it’s very important to get it right.

So how do we know what level of contrast is sufficient? It’s recommended that text should have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text, and 3:1 for large text (18 points or larger). You can use tools like webAIM to check colour contrast.

Do you take care with accessibility of your font choices?

Ensuring text is readable is crucial for creating a good user experience. Some fonts are much more readable than others. So choose a font that’s easy to read. This is especially important when choosing a font for body text.

Also consider font size and line spacing. A good rule of thumb is to make the font size of the body text at least 16px and the line height at least 1.5 times (150%) the font size.

On a similar note, give structure and hierarchy to your content by applying appropriate heading tags to your content (e.g. h1, h2, h3, etc).

Do you design your forms with care?

Being able to use forms on your website is a crucial part of interacting with the site. How do you make them easier to use?

Include clear instructions for the user at the top of the form about why they should complete it and how to do it.

Ensure each field has a label above it that is accurate and informative. It’s useful to give examples in placeholder text but ensure this does not replace the labels. For example, don’t just have a dropdown box with different age groups, put the label ‘age range’ above it.

When providing error messages for people who incorrectly fill out a form, don’t just highlight the field or label in red. Blind and colour-blind users won’t be able to interpret it. Add a text explanation of the issue and how to correct it alongside the colour indictor. For example, “The email you have entered is incorrect, please enter a valid email”.

Have you included content in different formats?

It’s a good idea to include the content in different formats to maximise accessibility to all users. For example, if you have an article, could you have a video or audio option? If you have video, could you add a transcript?

Another great option for video content is to add captions. They can improve the experience for hearing impaired users. They also make your content more accessible to people who speak other languages.

To create the best experience, ensure the captions sync well with what’s happening in the video content and that they accurately communicate what is being said in the audio.

In conclusion, creating an accessible website is crucial. This article has just scratched the surface of some of the things you need to think about. For more detailed requirements on how to create an accessible website, check out Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

It’s a great idea to ask for feedback from people with disabilities when assessing your website. See how they interact with it and listen to their feedback.

Although there’s a lot that goes into creating an accessible website, it’s worth it. When you create an accessible website, you create a better experience for people with disabilities. It can also improve experience for everyone, even those without a disability. When you create an accessible website, you have an understanding and empathy with different types of users, and this new-found knowledge can help you create better websites, products, and services for everyone.

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