The Internet must be accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, it is not the case.
Around the world, approximately 500,000 new websites are created every day. However, a whopping 70% of all these websites do not meet basic WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
Today, there are one billion people with disabilities in the world, or 15% of the world’s population.
This means that much of the World Wide Web is inaccessible to millions of users with visual, hearing, motor and / or cognitive impairments.
At the production stage, web designers and agencies may also need to start considering another growing demographic: the aging population.
Loss of sight, fine motor skills, and cognitive function can have a huge impact on how the older generation can interact with a website.
It can be incredibly tempting to create websites with unique layouts, custom fonts, and flashy graphics, but that means excluding thousands of potential customers.
How is an accessible website beneficial for your brand?
By excluding ethics from the equation, there are two major advantages to creating an accessible website.
First and foremost, creating an accessible website will positively illuminate your brand identity and position you firmly as a trustworthy business.
From an economic point of view, it’s the brands that take the time to create accessible sites that benefit.
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 roughly $ 1 billion in aggregate revenue, which translates into over $ 220 billion in discretionary consumer purchasing power.
Six tips for building an accessible website
There are a lot of misconceptions about how difficult it is to design an accessible website.
With a few modifications, creating a disabled-friendly website can be straightforward. Here are six tips for making a website accessible to everyone.
1. Seeking help from people with disabilities
This is often overlooked by designers, but it is so important to ask people with disabilities to try your website. If you understand the needs of your users, you can design a functional website with minimal hassle.
You should also include people with disabilities in your marketing team, as they will be able to tell you firsthand what obstacles they face while browsing websites. With this information, you can remove these obstacles before it goes live.
Siteimprove is a great online tool that allows you to check the accessibility of your website.
At Adapt, we have used it to localize and rework website features deemed inaccessible. Websites are rated A, AA, or AAA, with AAA being the highest score. Most digital marketers aspire to have an AA rating.
2. Choose a clear font
Using serif fonts or your own branded fonts can cause many problems for people with dyslexia or visual impairment.
You should try to use sans serif fonts where possible, as these fonts are much lighter and stand out on most images and colorful backgrounds.
The size of the font is also extremely important. You should opt for a minimum size of 16 pixels for a serif font and 14 for a sans serif font for easy readability.
To check if your font choice matches the brand, try downloading the WhatFont browser extension.
3. Use alt tags
Most websites that include images will use alt tags.
Alt tags are the words you see when you hover your mouse over an image. They are extremely useful for those who use screen readers.
These tags would be a great addition to your website because you can add detailed descriptions to all of your photos. However, when writing these descriptions, you should keep them concise.
4. Create captions and transcripts
Adding captions to your videos is essential as they are extremely useful for people who are hard of hearing or have ADHD.
Some online platforms, including YouTube, are programmed with software that automatically adds captions. However, if you are producing your own videos, it is important to take the time to create captions.
You should also consider writing transcripts and captions for your videos, which cover all the basics.
5. Links must be descriptive
On most websites, you will notice that a large portion of them use the “Click here” button to help you navigate to other pages. While it sounds like an efficient navigation system, this short description makes life incredibly 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 your website.
Short, generalized navigation links are difficult for screen readers to process. So your users can get stuck on a page on your website, which is not good.
Instead of opting for the standardized “click here” link button, it is worth writing a descriptive link. This will allow the screen reader to process what you have written and make it easy for the user to understand the content of your pages.
For example, it is better to write “to find out more about our vacancies, see the Adapt careers page”, instead of “to find out more about our vacancies, click here”.
To help your web links stand out for the visually impaired, highlight them and add color contrast.
The size and scope of your links are extremely important. Make sure the font of the link is larger and has a wide range, as this will be useful for people with limited mobility.
6. Smooth navigation is essential
Many people are unable to use a keyboard or mouse to browse the web and instead use speech recognition software, screen readers, read heads, adaptive keyboards, and trackball mice.
These inventions are a great resource for people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments, but they won’t work if your website doesn’t support them.
To make sure your website is easy for everyone to navigate, program your website to be keyboard friendly. Adding visual indicators on tabs lets users know their location on each landing page.
If you have a page that has a lot of content, it’s best to break it down into smaller sections, and the easiest way to do that is to create shortcut lists.
Another aspect of the design that you need to think about is the video. For those of you who already have or plan to add videos to your website, you need to make sure that they don’t play automatically as this can make life difficult for people using screen readers.
Everyone deserves an easy user experience, and right now we are not doing enough to ensure the accessibility of our websites.
Taking the necessary steps to rework your website design can seem difficult at first. But by following these six simple steps, you’ll have an accessible and up-to-date website in no time.
Ella Fisher, Marketing Assistant at Adapt Worldwide.