Making your website more accessible
Making your website more accessible
You may have heard this term, but not really known what it meant. Essentially, it’s ensuring every visitor can read and understand the information on your website and navigate through its different pages.
This includes people with disabilities who may find such a task difficult, e.g. blind people, people with dyslexia, people who are colour-blind, and people who struggle against auditory, neurological and cognitive issues. According to a report by Recite Me:
1 in 30 people in the UK is blind or visually impaired
Around 15% of the population has dyslexia
1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability
Given the extent of those statistics, it’s quite a task to ensure that every person will have the same experience—particularly for smaller businesses who may not be able to afford thousands and thousands of pounds for a bespoke website. That said, there are some things you can do to increase your compliance in this area.
Think about the font you use
You might be a fun, creative type who thinks Comic Sans shows your quirkiness. It just shows your unprofessionalism, unfortunately (sorry!). Sans Serif fonts are generally considered to be easier to read, particularly by the neurodiverse and people with dyslexia, as they have less embellishment and each character is slightly easier to distinguish compared to other fonts.
Don’t forget to include alt text on imagery
Visually impaired visitors may not be able to clearly make out what an image on your website depicts. This is where alt text—the written description of what’s happening in a picture—comes in useful. Special plug-ins can read the alt text aloud to visitors with sight issues; with the alt text description, they can understand far more about what’s on the page.
Some images may be more important than others; if an image contains your logo or something largely irrelevant, you can perhaps skip the alt text description on these; however, it you’re including such things as graphs and infographics, an alt text description becomes much more valuable to impaired visitors.
Choose colours carefully
Branding experts would tell you to include your company’s colours across your website. This would probably be fine if it was a muted colour, but loud, bright hues could distract a visually impaired user from reading the actual content on your site.
Sometimes, it’s not so much the colour but the tone and contrast used. Every colour in the rainbow has a multitude of different shades, and it may be that one of these is more suitable from an accessibility point of view than the correct shade you’ll like use across your marketing literature, for example. With the latter, the chosen hue may need to stand out and be bold to catch people’s eye. Visitors to your site are already there and engaged—they don’t need a brazen colour battling for their attention against the information you’d rather they absorb.
Practically every website houses a menu, but some can be tucked away and it’s almost like cracking a puzzle to find them. It’s popular to store the menu behind a three-lined box, but this may be difficult to distinguish on a busy site by someone with an impairment. Labelling a menu as a menu reduces confusion.
Should you need to direct visitors to another page or part of the site, make this instruction clear. For example, if you’re embedding a link, don’t just say ‘click here’ when pointing visitors to where they need to go, actually describe the destination within the hyperlink’s wording.
Consider the journey through long-form content
Some companies base their websites on a singular landing page, rather than a site of various pages spread across a diverse sitemap. They believe visitors will simply scroll to the section they want if they’re not interested in reading all the content in a linear manner.
However, some people find it difficult to hold or grip a mouse, and others are not able to use a trackpad on a laptop. Instead, they simply use the up/down directional buttons on the keyboard. For this group of people, sectional links or anchors that make the page ‘jump’ to different sections can save them a lot of arrow-tapping!
It’s a valuable exercise to consider the many different visitors to your website and how they may interact with it—whether they have a disability /impairment or not. We’re all individuals with our own preferences when it comes to digesting content, when considering what constitutes good design, and when deciding which technological tools/prompts (if any) are more useful than others.
If you’re unsure about how to make the most of your online presence, talk to us. We’ve designed hundreds of different sites for a vast range of customer types in various sectors. Call 07983 575934 for more information.