So You've Got A Website, But Is It Accessible Enough?
Your website may be targeting a specific demographic, which is perfect for your audience type. But remember, no two customers will be the same. While you might class them into one audience group, you have to remember that some of your audience might have accessibility issues with your business’s website design.
Think of it this way, you’re planning to open and run a cafe. You’ve got the decor ready, your menu is good to go, and overall, you’re pleased with the aesthetic design of the cafe. But now it’s time to stop and step back to think – “Is my cafe accessible to everyone?”
This means opening and running a cafe that’s inclusive and accessible to those with physical disabilities or those with special needs. Does the cafe have a ramp at the entrance for wheelchair users, are the stairs going to the second floor comfortable enough for those with canes, and are the toilets easy-to-use for those who require handles to stand and sit?
Just as you would go above and beyond to ensure that your cafe is accessible for all, your website design needs to include this accessibility to those who require it. Not only will it make your users have a better User Experience (UX) with your website, thus allowing you to receive more customers as you are presenting your business to all types of customers.
Making your website accessible involves adding additional ways for users to access your website.
Why It's Important To Make Websites Accessible
Making your website accessible to all types of users that are in your audience group is vital as it covers all aspects of your business – from the process of setting up your store/website to creating and publishing marketing content, such as videos, as well as ensuring that your website works seamlessly for those who use screen reading.
When it comes to websites, accessibility means ensuring that the content, product details, videos, articles, and other items entailed in your website is perceivable in multiple ways or multiple senses. This allows users who are physically impaired to use your website better, giving you the opportunity to provide a website that is available to all kinds of users.
So Where Should You Begin?
A good place to start would be to play around with the contrast between your website background and foreground. By choosing the right hue for your background colour and applying a readable font with colour that contrasts the background, you’re making your content more perceivable – enabling a better view of the content and experience for your website visitors.
You can also throw in an infographic or two to better help the users get the gist of what the content is about. Users who enjoy your content but doesn’t have enough time to spend reading the whole article or visual learners will appreciate an infographic that summarises the content.
Using text formatting for your content is a great way to emphasise certain words or sentences. Play around by underlining, bolding, or italicising parts of the content you want to highlight an idea or important point. These will make your content pop and more perceivable by users, giving them the understanding that what you’re sharing is of importance – be it a warning, disclaimer, or such.
At the same time, accessibility also means that the website is operable in different ways.
Video content with closed caption helps those with hearing impairment to understand what’s going on in the video and the message that you’re trying to convey. Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube offers closed captions or subtitles that describe music or sound so that viewers know what’s going on.
Another function for general accessibility includes allowing users to browse through articles, sections, and categories quickly so that they can immediately find and access what they need or want in an instant. This reduces the need for them to manually go through each page to find what they need.
Website accessibility should be mapped out from the moment you begin to design the layout of your website.
One other way to add accessibility to users who are visually impaired to further use your website easily is by adding alt text to your images. Alt texts are HTML attributes that provide a short description of an image that you use on your website should the image could not be loaded for any reason.
This can be done by access the library media via the website’s backend. Visually impaired users who use screen readers can know that more about the image you use as the text you have inserted in the description will be read out loud.
Time To Check If Your Website Is Robust & Ready!
Now it’s time for you to ask yourself and the team if your business website is robust and ready enough to work with different browsers and also support assistive technologies.
By robust and ready, we mean that all your website’s interactive fields are labelled – such as the navigation icon “next page” or “next item”. Users with their screen reader option enabled will have the texts read out loud, greatly helping those with vision impairment to easily navigate your website.
However, be sure that the texts for your website’s navigational icons and others of the nature to be brief and fully explains what it does in a gist. This way, those using screen readers don’t have to listen to long-winded instructions, which will hinder their need to find the navigation and helps them to get what they want quickly.
Use specific descriptions on links that lead to certain pages such as the cart or payment page. Avoid generic terms such as “Go To The Next Page” – instead, label it clearly such as “Go To Cart” or “Go To Payment Page“.
Your Business Website May Be Ready, But It Doesn't Stop There
Even when your website is live and launched, ready to be viewed by users all over the Internet, you still have to constantly observe if the assistive technologies are working and updated. This is also to make sure that the rest of your website is also working properly as intended.
You can’t sit in front of the computer 24/7 so you will need to schedule your time to review any anomalies that occur on your website. Alternatively, if you have a web development team, you can get them to do a routine check to ensure that your website accessibility and performance is running correctly.
You can also install Google Lighthouse on your browser (preferably Google Chrome for Desktop) to observe how things on your website are going. Asking your users to complete a survey when they’re done completing a ‘task’ on your website can also help you to improve your business website performance. This effort also helps you with knowing better how your regular and potential users feel regarding the user experience (UX) when they navigate your website.
Constant observation of your website performance ensures seamless navigation on any kind of device, browser, and supported assistive technologies.
Here at Visio Asia, we believe in providing accessibility to all, no matter whether it is for websites, videos, and images. Ensuring that every user is able to experience the idea and thoughts behind each project.