6 Ways to Increase Website Accessibility
6 Ways to Increase Website Accessibility
From SEO to responsive design, today’s websites call for a wide variety of considerations. With so much to think about, it’s possible that you’ve neglected one of the most important elements of all: website accessibility.
At first glance, your website may seem easy to navigate. Unfortunately, a significant subset of visitors likely think otherwise. Unless you’ve made a dedicated effort to accommodate users with disabilities, your site will fail to provide all visitors the access they require.
While increased accessibility is sure to please website visitors with disabilities, it also holds the power to improve the digital experience across the board. All internet users can benefit from easy-to-navigate pages with clear text and simple visuals. These elements get your message across, and ultimately, drive conversions.
Accessibility is important for marketing reasons, of course, but it’s also essential from a legal standpoint. Several countries maintain strict accessibility laws. While these may initially seem difficult to follow, the Web Accessibility Initiative’s guidelines provide a valuable framework for optimizing your page for all types of visitors. In general, the following best practices should make your website more accessible to a wide range of users:
1. Provide Options for Navigating Pages Via Keyboard
Mobile surfing may be the go-to approach for most web users, but some continue to rely on desktop computers—including many individuals with disabilities. Often, physical restrictions keep these users from taking advantage of trackpads or mice. Tabs, however, make it possible to navigate webpages exclusively with keyboards.
With a simple tab key, users with physical limitations can easily view a variety of interactive elements, including buttons, links, and forms. Additionally, tabs allow users to jump between blocks of text or other highlighted web content.
2. Keep Interactive Features As High on the Page As Possible
A basic rule of thumb for website design, regardless of accessibility: highlight the most important content near the top of the page and on the left-hand side, where research suggests the human eye naturally gravitates.
Strategic layouts are critical not only for capturing visitors’ attention, but also, for reducing the extent to which users with physical disabilities need to jam on the tab key. After all, while tabbing through pages allows users to reach essential content, it can still prove time-consuming—particularly when completing forms or otherwise dealing with interactive content.
3. Amplify Color Contrast
From colorblind visitors to those with learning disabilities, a variety of users will struggle to discern text if it lacks sufficient color contrast as compared to the webpage’s background. This is especially true when navigating websites via mobile devices.
Dark text on light-colored screens is nearly always preferable to light text on colorful backgrounds, or, worst of all, light text against a white screen.
Beyond improving contrast, provide alternative means of conveying information, rather than rely on color alone. All users should be capable of understanding visuals as soon as they become black and white.
If your page contains graphics (such as maps) in which color perception is required to fully understand the message, annotations or other supplemental text should be included to ensure that viewers comprehend all visual elements.
4. Add Captions For Embedded Videos
Videos deliver a rich experience, but they can be aggravating for users with hearing impairments. Multiple options are available, including closed captions that can be turned on or off as desired—or open captions embedded into the video’s file. Simply including captions isn’t good enough; they should be correctly synced with the video’s content.
5. Use Caution With Animations
Animation adds movement and visual interest to your page, but at the potential cost of accessibility. Depending on the style of the animation, this seemingly innocuous feature could prompt everything from confusion to nausea. Visitors prone to migraines or seizures may find these features especially problematic.
To reduce the potential for troublesome side effects, implement the following best practices:
- Opt for small or midsize animations.
- Keep parallax scrolling effects as subtle as possible.
- Use HTML videos in lieu of GIFs.
6. Post an Accessibility Statement
Your commitment to accessibility should be evident not only in your website’s design, but also, based on an easy-to-understand statement explicitly featured on your webpage. Ideally situated within your site’s header, this statement should highlight your efforts to provide an ideal website experience for users with disabilities. Analyze your site carefully to ensure that it actually abides by the procedures highlighted in your accessibility statement.
As you examine website best practices for improving website accessibility, don’t hesitate to seek support from our team of experts at Alt Creative. Contact us today to request a website audit or to get a better feel for our approach to digital marketing.