How to Design Your Website to Be Accessible to Everyone
When you create a website for your business, the ultimate goal is to reach as many people as possible. To help achieve this goal, it is important to ensure everyone who engages with your site can easily access the information they are searching for. Millions of users rely on your website being accessible and when your website is not, both you and your users are missing out. Creating a website that is accessible is fairly simple. The first step is to understand what makes websites hard to use for certain types of people. Once you know what makes a website difficult to access, you can make sure your website avoids these underlying issues. Below let's dive deeper into web accessibility and some common ways to make your site accessible to all.
What Is Website Accessibility?
Every person should be able to take advantage of the benefits of the internet. It should not matter if they have conditions that require them to use special tools. This is the main purpose of web accessibility. Designing your website with users that have special needs in mind makes your website welcoming to people from all walks of life. In terms of websites, there are a few common conditions that can affect a user’s ability to access a site, these conditions include visual impairments, hearing impairments, difficulty with fine motor skills, photosensitivity and cognitive impairments such as memory loss. To access the web, many users with these conditions utilize assistive technology such as screen readers that convert text on a webpage to an audio file, speech recognition software that converts speech into text, Braille terminals and even specialized keyboards. Designing your Richmond VA business’s website to be compatible with these technologies ensures that anyone who accesses the website can find it valuable.
The Benefits of Making Your Site Website Accessible
Making your website accessible to everyone benefits both your business and the user. First and foremost, it expands your reach to potential consumers. Making it easier for all users to access your site obviously increases your audience and can even give you an edge over competitors who did not make the same consideration. Not to mention, the majority of the tactics that are used to make your website more accessible to users with disabilities are also beneficial to users in general as these techniques improve the overall design and the usability of your website. Finally, most countries have laws that require websites to be compliant with accessibility guidelines. Your business may need to meet specific requirements to avoid potential legal action. Now that you know how beneficial complying with website accessibility can be, let’s go into some common ways to make your website more accessible.
Ways to Make Your Website Accessible
- Keyboard Shortcuts for Navigation
One of the most important steps taken to ensure your website is accessible to everyone is to make it keyboard friendly. In layman's terms, your website should not require a mouse to navigate through it as many assistive devices rely on keyboard entries for use. The most common way to navigate a site via a keyboard is the Tab Key. This will jump between all areas of your site allowing access to all pages, content, links and etc. Determine if your website is keyboard friendly, by doing a quick test yourself. Note any areas you are unable to access and make any needed updates. Completing these small tasks can help take the website design Richmond VA for business to the next level.
- Easily Accessible Content
It is key to ensure all content within your website can be easily accessed, including any content that may be incorporated into moving elements on a page that do not require refreshing or clicking to be displayed. This type of content is considered dynamic content. Technology such as screen readers, read the content on the page as it is when it loads, if it is not aware of the changing content prior, the user will not have that content relayed to them. The best way to ensure content is not missed by the user’s assistive technology is to utilize ARIA landmarks that tag and identify the dynamic content as it changes. ARIA landmarks are also useful as it can help the users find the information they are looking for more quickly. They allow users to skip ahead to the content they want without having to go through all the menus and links on your website which can take longer.
- Image Alt Tags
For users who utilize a screen reader, any image that does not have a description or caption that can be read aloud will be missed. You can prevent users from missing any image content on your site but adding an Alt tag to every image on your site. Alt tags are useful for when an image cannot display as it provides a description of the image content. Screen readers are able to read this content so the user can visualize the image themselves. Besides website accessibility, alt tags are also beneficial for SEO ranking. That being said, designing your website for your Richmond VA business to be accessible can be beneficial in multiple ways.
- Flexible Text Size
For some users, it might be necessary to increase the size of text on your website to improve readability. This might seem quite simple, but if your site is not built with this capability, when a user attempts to make the text bigger it could break your site or make it hard to navigate. You can avoid this by not defining your text size by pixel, but instead use general sizes.
- Accessibility-Friendly Content
Of course, creating a website with a design that keeps accessibility in mind is important, but content should be the main concern when it comes to making your website easily accessible. Structuring your site content with headlines is key. This makes your content flow better and easier to understand when read by a screen reader. Additionally, headings also help screen readers better interpret your content allowing for easier navigation on each page of your site. Other ways you can ensure your content is accessibility-friendly is by writing out all acronyms, uniquely naming links, having descriptive names and including anchor text. Though all these measures are necessary to ensure everyone who accesses your site can find it valuable, remember that your content should be appealing to all your website users.
Designing your Richmond VA business website to be welcoming to all users is not only the right thing to do, but it also helps your website achieve its goal of attracting as many users as possible. With a few minor changes, your website can become web accessibility compliant. TechArk is an award-winning web design agency that has helped multiple clients throughout Richmond and Hampton Roads reach Level A Compliance for Website Accessibility. If your Richmond VA business’s website design is in need of help becoming more accessible, contact the experts at TechArk today.