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Six tips for designing an accessible website

Six tips for designing an accessible website
Written by publishing team

The Internet should be available to everyone. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Globally, about 500,000 new websites are created every day. However, a huge 70% of all of these sites do not meet the basic WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).

Today there are 1 billion people with disabilities around the world – 15% of the world’s population.

This means that a large proportion of the World Wide Web is inaccessible to the millions of users with visual, hearing, motor and/or cognitive disabilities.

When you’re in production, website designers and agencies may have to start thinking about another growing demographic—the aging population.

Loss of vision, fine motor skills, and cognitive function can greatly affect how well the older generation interacts with a website.

Creating websites with unique layouts, custom fonts, and flashy graphics can be very tempting, but doing so means turning away thousands of potential customers.

How is an accessible website beneficial to your brand?

Taking ethics out of the equation, there are two main benefits to creating an accessible website.

First, creating an accessible website will positively illuminate your brand identity and firmly position yourself as a trustworthy company.

From an economic point of view, it’s the brands that take time to create accessible websites that make money.

Take the United States for example. About 54 million people live with some form of disability, according to the US Census Bureau.

This community alone accounts for nearly $1 trillion in total income, which translates to more than $220 billion in discretionary consumer purchasing power.

Six Important Tips for Creating an Accessible Website

There is a great deal of misconception about the difficulty of designing an accessible website.

With a few tweaks, creating a disabled-friendly website can be simple. Here are six tips for designing a website that everyone can access.

1. Seek help from people with disabilities

This is often overlooked by designers, but it is very important to ask people with disabilities to try out your website. If you understand the needs of your users, you can design a functional website with minimal issues.

You should also include people with disabilities in your marketing team, as they will be able to tell you directly about the obstacles they encounter when navigating websites. With this information, you can remove these obstacles before you publish them.

Siteimprove is a great online tool that allows you to check the accessibility of your website.

At Adapt, we’ve used it to identify and rework on inaccessible website features. Websites are scored with ratings of A, AA, or AAA, with AAA receiving the highest score. Most digital marketers aspire to have an AA rating.

2. Choose a clear font

Using serif fonts or your branded fonts can cause a lot of problems for people with dyslexia or visual impairments.

You should try to use sans serif fonts where you can because these fonts are more visible and stand out in most colorful images and backgrounds.

Font size is also incredibly important. You should choose a size of at least 16 pixels for a serif font and 14 for a sans serif font for readability.

To check if your choice of font meets the mark, try downloading the WhatFont browser extension.

3. Use alternate tags

Most websites with images will use alt tags.

Alt marks are the words you see when you hover your mouse over an image. It is very useful for those who use screen readers.

These tags will be a great addition to your website where you can add detailed descriptions of all your images. However, when writing these descriptions, you need to keep them brief.

4. Create subtitles and texts

Adding subtitles to your videos is essential, as they are extremely useful for people with hearing impairments or those with ADHD.

Some online platforms including YouTube are programmed with software that adds subtitles automatically. However, if you are producing your own videos, it is important that you take the time to create subtitles.

You should also consider writing scripts and captions for your videos, which cover all the bases.

5. Links must be descriptive

On most websites, you will notice that a large percentage of them use the “Click here” button to help you navigate to other pages. While this sounds like an efficient navigation system, this brief description makes life very difficult for those who use screen readers.

For those who may not have used screen readers before, these programs scan your website for links to help visually impaired users navigate around your website.

It is difficult for screen readers to process short, generalized navigation links. So your users may get stuck on one page of your website, which is not good.

Instead of choosing the standard “click here” link button, it’s worth writing a descriptive link. This will allow the screen reader to process what you have written and will allow the user to easily understand the content of your pages.

For example, it is better to write “To find out more about our job opportunities, check out Adapt’s careers page,” rather than “To learn about our job opportunities, click here.”

To help your web links stand out to those with visual impairments, underline them and add color contrast.

The size and scope of your links are extremely important. Make sure the link font size is larger and has a wide range, as this will be helpful for those with navigation difficulties.

6. Smooth navigation is essential

Many people are unable to use a keyboard or mouse to navigate the web, and instead use speech recognition software, screen readers, head sticks, adaptive keyboards, and trackball mice.

These inventions are a great resource for those with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments, but they won’t work if your website fails to support them.

To ensure that your website is easy to navigate for everyone, program your website to be keyboard friendly. Adding visual indicators on tabs allows users to know their location on each landing page.

If you have a page with a lot of content, it’s best to break it down into smaller sections, and the easiest way to do that is to create jump lists.

Another aspect of the design that you need to think about is video. For those who already have or are thinking of adding videos to your website, you need to make sure that they don’t play automatically as this can make life difficult for people who use screen readers.

Finally

Everyone deserves an easy user experience, and we’re not doing enough right now to ensure that our websites are accessible.

Taking steps towards redesigning your website may seem daunting at first. But by following these 6 easy steps, you will have a website that can be accessed and up and running in no time.

Ella Fisher, Marketing Assistant at Adapt Worldwide.

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publishing team