How To Make Your Website More Accessible
Website Accessibility & Your Business + 12 Tips to Create an Accessible Site for Customers
Is your business website accessible to all users?
In a digital landscape where inclusivity is paramount, ensuring your website meets accessibility standards has become more than just a moral obligation -- it's a smart business move.
Did you know that over 4 million Australians have some form of disability?
That's 1 in 5 Australians. By making your website accessible, you open the doors to a massive potential customer base.
In this blog, we'll dive into website accessibility and uncover 12 powerful tips to transform your business website into an inclusive and engaging platform that leaves no one behind.
What is Website Accessibility?
Web accessibility means that all individuals, regardless of age, disability, or other characteristics, can access and interact with your website.
To overcome each internet user's unique accessibility challenges, the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) developed a set of globally adopted accessibility standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
These guidelines provide technical standards for web developers, designers, and content creators to follow. When WCAG are followed, your business website will be accessible to a wider range of people using the internet.
Accessible Websites are Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust (POUR)
P - Perceivable
Perceivable means that content can be understood by all users, regardless of their abilities.
Examples of Perceivable website features:
- Alternative text (alt text) for images provides written descriptions for visually impaired individuals using screen readers.
- Captions and transcripts for audio files and video content make it accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Descriptive headings and clear structure aid users with screen readers in navigating the website effectively.
- Good colour contrast between text and background enhances the readability for users with visual impairments.
O - Operable
Operability ensures that users can easily navigate, interact with, and understand the functionalities of your website.
Examples of Operable website features:
- Keyboard accessibility allows users to navigate and interact with the website using only keyboard navigation.
- Focus indicators highlight the currently focused element, aiding users in understanding their location on the web page.
- Navigational consistency ensures that menus and controls are structured consistently across the website.
- Clear and concise error messages provide guidance when users encounter form submission errors or similar problems.
- Time-sensitive content can be controlled or extended to accommodate users who may need more time with interactive elements.
U - Understandable
Understandability ensures that users can easily comprehend and navigate your website, fostering a positive user experience for all visitors.
Examples of Understandable website features:
- Clear and concise language helps users comprehend the content easily.
- Simple and intuitive navigation enables users to find information quickly.
- A consistent and predictable page layout enhances familiarity and understanding.
- Instructions and form fields provide clear guidance for completing tasks.
- Meaningful and descriptive links assist users in understanding their purpose.
R - Robust
Robustness ensures that your website remains accessible and functional across different platforms and technologies.
Examples of Robust website features:
- Compliance with web standards and guidelines ensures compatibility across different browsers and devices.
- Compatibility with assistive technologies enables users to access the website using various tools.
- Graceful degradation and progressive enhancement techniques ensure functionality on older browsers or devices.
- Regular updates and maintenance help address vulnerabilities and improve overall performance.
Why does my business need to be accessible to all users?
The answer is simple: Inclusivity and accessibility are not only ethically essential but also offer significant business benefits.
- Expand your customer base: By ensuring your website is accessible, you tap into a larger audience. As mentioned earlier, over 4 million Australians have some form of disability. By catering to their needs, you open the doors to a substantial customer base that might otherwise be overlooked.
- Improve user experience: Accessibility features benefit all users, not just those with disabilities. Clear navigation, descriptive headings, and intuitive design enhances the user experience for all, leading to higher engagement and customer satisfaction.
- Boost SEO and visibility: Search engines value accessibility. By implementing web accessibility standards, you improve your website's search engine optimisation (SEO) and make it more discoverable, driving organic traffic and increasing your online visibility.
- Enhance brand reputation: Demonstrating a commitment to inclusivity and accessibility builds a positive brand image. It shows that your business values equal access for all. This fosters customer loyalty and attracts socially conscious consumers.
Legal implications for businesses
It's essential that you're aware of the potential consequences of neglecting web accessibility. High-profile individuals and businesses have faced legal action due to inaccessible websites.
For example, in the case of Robles v. Domino's, the plaintiff alleged that Dominos's website and mobile app were not accessible to screen reader users. The Supreme Court refused to hear Domino's appeal, allowing a lawsuit to proceed.
It goes without saying - a lawsuit is bad for business.
To sum it up, it's worth the cost of designing a website that's accessible to your users.
12 Tips to Create a More Accessible Website for Your Customers
Unlock the power of accessibility with 12 essential tips to create a truly inclusive and user-friendly website for your business.
Let's dive into the world of web accessibility and transform your website into an accessible powerhouse!
- Add alt text for images
- Improve content readability
- Check your colour contrast
- Check your text and font size
- Make your website easy to navigate with a keyboard
- Check your websites' mobile responsiveness
- Create form field labels
- Include video captions
- Use audio transcripts
- Understand Aria attributes
- Consider language identification
- Test your website
Add alt text for images
Don't leave visually impaired users in the dark! Alt text provides textual descriptions of images, allowing screen reader users to understand the visual content. Take an extra 30 seconds to add a description to the next image you upload.
Here's a few tips from Harvard on how to write good alt text:
How to Write Good Alt Text
- Keep it short and descriptive, like a tweet.
- Don’t include “image of” or “photo of” at the beginning of the description. (It's implied)
- Leave alt text blank if the image is purely decorative
- It's not necessary to add text in the Title field.
By including descriptive alt text, you ensure that all users, regardless of their visual abilities, can fully comprehend and engage with the information your images convey.
Improve Content Readability
Enhancing content readability is paramount for visually impaired users. By optimising fonts, colour contrast, and text formatting, you create an accessible environment where visually impaired individuals can easily read and comprehend content.
Guide your users with clarity and structure. Organising your website's content with clear headings and logical structure will help all of your customers find what they're looking for.
Clear headings provide users, especially those with screen readers, with a roadmap to quickly navigate and understand your content.
By using proper HTML heading tags and maintaining a logical information architecture, you ensure that users can easily find the information they need and comprehend the relationships between different sections.
You'll also avoid creating a website that looks like this:
Check Your Colour Contrast
Ever had to strain your eyes to read dark blue text placed on top of a black background? Then you've experienced poor colour contrast.
Checking your colour contrast is vital for visually impaired users, especially those with low vision or colour blindness.
High contrast between text and background ensures that individuals with low vision can read content more easily. Additionally, colour-blind users rely on sufficient contrast to differentiate between elements of your website.
How to test your website's colour contrast
Check Your Text and Font Size
Sometimes, size DOES matter. Checking your text and font size is essential for visually impaired users.
By ensuring a sufficient and adjustable font size, you enhance readability and legibility for individuals with low vision. This allows them to comfortably read the content without straining their eyes.
Make Your Website Easy to Navigate with a Keyboard
Making your website keyboard accessible is essential for users who cannot use a mouse or other input device. They must be able to navigate and access content using the Tab, arrow, Enter, and Escape keys.
When dealing with tabular data, make sure that user agents can distinguish between the table headings and data cells. To do this, use proper HTML markup so the user agent can recognise the relationships between the table's content.
If you're not sure how to do this on your business website, reach out to a web development agency for support.
Check Your Website's Mobile Responsiveness
Checking your website's mobile responsiveness is crucial for visually impaired users, as many rely on mobile devices for web browsing.
A responsive design ensures that your content adapts seamlessly to different screen sizes, allowing users to access the website with ease.
If your website was made 10 years ago and hasn't been updated since, your website design is probably due for an update.
Create Form Field Labels
Form fields should also be labelled appropriately so that screen reader users can identify what type of information they are supposed to enter in the field. Being mindful of the language used in form labels is key to providing accessible content.
Additionally, including instructions on how to fill out the form will help ensure users understand exactly what is expected from them when completing it.
Clear form fields create an accessible website experience for all customers. Clear instructions and concise descriptions will make navigating your site easier for everyone who visits it.
Include Video Captions
Captions provide a text-based representation of the audio content, allowing individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to engage with your videos.
By providing video captions, you ensure that all users can access and understand the information conveyed in your videos.
Best practices for adding video captions
- Use accurate and synchronised captions that align with the audio content
- Ensure captions are easy to read with clear font styles and appropriate colour contrast
- Include speaker identification to differentiate between different individuals speaking
- Display captions consistently throughout the entire video, including any important audio or sound effects
- Check the accuracy and quality of automated captioning and make necessary edits for clarity
- Provide an option to toggle captions on or off, giving users control over their viewing preferences
- Comply with accessibility standards outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium and their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for captioning requirements
Use Audio Transcripts
For when your users can't hear loud and clear. Transcripts provide a written version of the audio content, allowing individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to access and understand the information.
By providing audio transcripts, you ensure equal access to auditory content, making your website inclusive and accommodating to all.
Understand Aria Attributes
Now that you have incorporated audio transcripts into your website, it is time to look at incorporating ARIA attributes.
ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications and it helps people with disabilities understand the content on your website.
When using ARIA attributes, you are creating a web page that can be understood by assistive technologies, such as screen readers and speech recognition software.
When incorporating ARIA attributes into your website, it is important to use evaluation tools to ensure that they are properly implemented. Evaluation tools allow you to test the accessibility of your website and make sure that it meets the standards set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Additionally, these tools can help you identify areas where additional improvements need to be made.
Examples of evaluation tools from w3.org
Consider Language Identification
Break down the language barriers! Providing multi-language support enhances accessibility by accommodating diverse language preferences and ensuring that users can fully comprehend the content.
By offering language options and translation features, you can create an inclusive digital environment that caters to the needs of users from various backgrounds, fostering equal access and engagement.
Tips to help make your website language more accessible for all users:
- Offer a language selection option on the homepage
Make sure your website allows customers to choose their preferred language from a visible menu, located on the homepage or another prominent page. This will allow customers to select the most comfortable language for them to interact with your website.
- Use assistive devices when needed
For those who cannot read text in any language, use assistive devices such as screen readers that can speak aloud information in multiple languages.
- Provide visual cues for sighted users
Incorporate visual cues like flags or symbols associated with different languages, so that sighted users can quickly identify which language they prefer.
Test Your Website
Put your website to the test!
Regular testing helps identify and address any accessibility barriers or issues that may impede users' ability to navigate and engage with your content.
By making testing a part of your regular maintenance routine, you can continuously improve and enhance the accessibility of your website.
If you're in the process of searching for a new web design agency, ask if website testing is a service they offer.
Creating an accessible website: Final Thoughts & Next Steps
In today's digital landscape, creating an accessible website isn't optional -- it's a necessity.
By incorporating the accessibility tips and best practices mentioned above, you can transform your website into an inclusive and welcoming platform for all users.
Embrace accessibility solutions and learn from accessible website examples to elevate your site's accessibility. Continuously test and evaluate your website to ensure it remains user-friendly for individuals with disabilities.
By prioritising accessibility, you not only expand your audience but also foster a sense of equality and inclusivity in the digital world.
Remember, accessibility is an ongoing journey, so make it a priority to continually refine and enhance your website's accessibility features. By doing so, you'll create a positive impact and ensure that your website is a welcoming space for all users, regardless of their abilities.
Talk to web specialists about making your website more accessible
If you made it this far-congratulations! You're well on your way to creating a more accessible online space for users. We also understand if you're a little overwhelmed too.
But before you pull the covers over your head, talk to our team of Australian website specialists.
Whether you're located in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, or anywhere else in Australia, we can help improve your website accessibility. Contact us today for a free quote. Let's get started on your journey to digital success!