How to Make Your Website More Accessible
When it comes to web design, certain terms have been trending in common years. Whether it be making your website “responsive”, “mobile-friendly”, or “accelerated” when loading, there are many factors that impact both your website’s performance and organic rankings.
One term; however, deserves a conversation of its own: accessibility.
Most web design best practices are geared towards what your “average” user needs or wants, such as faster load speeds and responsive design. While these both are quite important, they won’t necessarily make your website accessible to those who are visually impaired, deaf, or who have other conditions which affect their ability to browse typical websites online.
Many governments have become aware of the lack of accessibility the digital movement can pose. To combat this, regulatory bodies are being put in place to establish guidelines and, in some cases, laws which companies must abide by. The US briefly had implemented the “Web Accessibility Regulation”, which was put on hold as of August 2017. While it was active; however, major brands such as Winn-Dixie and Nordstrom faced class-action lawsuits for non-compliance. This regulation may be returned to an active state in the near future.
So, what can you do to make your website accessible and compliant?
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has three levels of compliance in accordance with accessibility regulations: A (minimal), AA (standard), and AAA (optimal). With some basic changes to your website, it is not difficult to bring yourself up to the AA level. The types of things included to reach this status are:
- Alternative Tags – Alt tags are a piece of text that you attach to an image that tells browsers and search engines what the image is about. The alt tag is often read out loud to people with visual impairments, who cannot see the image itself. For example, the image below may have an alt tag that reads “Basket of Ripe Hass Avocados at Trader Joes, Priced at 99 Cents Each”
- Text Files for Audio/Video Content – On the flipside, making your audio and video files accessible to those with hearing impairments is just as crucial. These text transcripts and closed captions allow users to read content which would otherwise need to be heard.
- Language Identification – Placing your website’s language directly into your header allows search engines and browsers to quickly recognize your website’s language so that text readers can respond accordingly.
- Rephrase, Not Redo – If your website uses forms or other interactive components which a user may fill out incorrectly, rather than sending them back to where the error happened in the first place, set the content to dynamically rephrase and adjust. This prevents people who may not understand what you are asking of them from getting stuck in a certain page or at a specific piece of content.
- Be Clear and Bold – Use call-to-action buttons and your website’s menu to help users easily identify where to move next. Avoid changes to the site through the use of one color, font size, or font type which make it difficult to differentiate different segments.
Ultimately, making your website more accessible is not just beneficial for business, but can also help protect you from changing governmental regulations. Talk to your web developer or give us a call at (604) 677-0742 to see how you can make your website more accessible!