Accessible website design allows billions of people, to easily navigate a brand’s website, increase awareness about the brand’s services, and thus drive an increase in business.
Web accessibility also means that people with disabilities, like visual impairments, learning difficulties, hearing loss and more, can also perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the brand through its website.
Unfortunately, most of the time, people with disabilities are left over; which from a commercial perspective, means missing out on a huge chunk of the population, approximately 1 billion user according to the UN.
Developing a disability friendly website requires knowing your audience, understanding the problems they face on the web and empowering them with your web design. As more applications and software become available, it is becoming easier for users with disabilities to access the web. All it takes to make your website accessible for everyone, is to a twist your website’s 5 main design components: Structure, Images, Links, Videos, Text.
1- Structure your pages
The most serious accessibility problems given the current state of the Web relate to users with visual disabilities, since most Web pages are highly visual. Structuring your website by using HTML the way HTML was intended (by encoding meaning rather than appearance) is a good step towards a more disabled-friendly website.
Using headings, (<H1> for the highest level heading, <H2> for the main parts of the information within the <H1>s, etc.) allows the users with visual disability to get an overview of any page’s structure and navigate any web page easily through their screen reader.
2- Describe your images
When you hover your mouse over an image on a website, the words that appear are called ALT tags. ALTs are becoming a common practice…still, many images remain without any.
Images with ALT tags allow the user who cannot see the image to have a description read as he or she moves the cursor around. Try to provide the friendliest description possible for you images, including information like what does the image intent to communicate and where it will lead if clicked.
3- Highlight your Links
Often links are not highlighted enough, and does not include a description which is an obstacle for people with visual impairments. On the other hand, users with mobility problems find it hard to click a link, due to the narrow clickable area around it.
Making these links accessible for everyone, implies describing your links, differentiating them from the rest of the text with visible yet friendly colours, and finally widen the clickable areas around them.
4- Add Subtitles to your Videos
If your web content contains videos, include transcripts and create versions with subtitles
(which will also benefit users who are not native speakers of the language used in the video).
For the most important videos, why not create a sign language version for deaf and hard of hearings?
5- Simplify your Text
In most websites, written content remains the most dominant for of content.
To support users, with limited eyesight don’t encode information to allow your text to grow or shrink to match the user's preferences. The design challenge here would require pages to look equally well at all font sizes.
Another design challenge is to use smart colour choices for the text, to make it easy for every user to read. And keep in mind that easy and simple copy is mandatory to optimise every user’s experience.
About the Author:
Rony Chiha - Managing Director and Founder, Adcreators
After working in the Middle East and Mexico, Rony brought his international marketing experience to Australia to lead the team of experts at Adcreators. As the MD and founder of a global business Rony has spent his career developing brands, creating and managing successful marketing campaigns and combining creativity and analytical skill to produce effective and impactful solutions for clients.
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