Accessibility is important, but what does it really mean to be accessible as a business?
When we hear the word accessibility, we often think about it in a physical sense, such as adding structures to ensure as many people as possible can access a building. But, did you know there’s actually more we can do to make things more accessible online? Accessibility within websites is often overlooked, but as our world rapidly becomes more digital it is more important than ever to keep up and meet the needs of our clients.
Here is a list of some things you can do to make your website more accessible (read further to see how you can achieve them):
First, it is important to know what SEO is; SEO stands for search engine optimization and it is the process of getting traffic from search engines. It works to improve your website's position in search results. The higher your website is ranked, the more people will see it. Making your website accessible through the means listed above is not only good for your site visitors but also for you, the website owner.
Alt text (or alternative text) is a short written description of an image. This text can be read by screen readers so images can be articulated for people who are blind or visually impaired. Alt text also makes your site more desirable to browsers which in turn brings in more clicks. This is because it helps categorize images for search results.
Here are some things to keep in mind for writing good alt text:
If you would like to see examples of good vs. bad alt text, here’s an article that might help: Image Alt Text: What It Is, How to Write It, and Why It Matters to SEO.
When considering contrast, we are thinking about the difference between two different colours. Specifically, it is important to ensure that the foreground and background do not clash, especially when placing text over a coloured background. Not all colours work well on top of one another which can sometimes make the text quite difficult to read. Even if the text looks legible to you, that may not be the case for everyone. For people with colour blindness, certain colour palettes can be a lot less accessible. Certain colours or colour combinations can also cause eyestrain among other physical problems for your viewers. If you are unsure if your colours meet the necessary standards, you can use tools like this website which allows you to check the contrast of the foreground and background: WebAIM: Contrast Checker.
If you receive a pass, your colours meet accessibility standards and your text is considered legible for as many people as possible! If your colours fail, however, you may need to try adjusting them or pick a new colour. If you are unsure where to start when it comes to adjustments, you can try making your darkest colour darker, and your lightest colour lighter to make the contrast higher. If this isn’t enough to go on, it may help to look up the difference in hues, tints, tones, and shades so you have a basic understanding of colour when deciding which best represents your brand.
Fonts are a great way to express yourself and show off who you are as a brand, and are a ton of fun options out there! Having said that, it can become overwhelming once you see how many options there are. There are hundreds of thousands of variations, so how do you know what to pick if so much is out there?
It is true that there’s an endless amount of fonts you can use, but understanding the five basic styles of fonts can be a great place to start. Knowing this much can make it a lot easier to determine what you and your viewers need!
You might be wondering, what do fonts have to do with accessibility? Well, you know how we just talked about how there are so many fonts out there? This means that although there are many good options to consider, there are also a lot of bad ones out there.
A “bad font” could not only be messy, hard to read, and generally unappealing but there are actually some fonts that present technical issues. If you download fonts from an unreliable website or use copy and paste methods, these fonts sometimes don’t appear as fonts. This means that screen readers can’t pick them up Therefore, the text won’t show up in search engines since it isn’t registered as text, and people who require screen readers won’t be able to know what you’re sharing. Avoiding this is pretty easy; stick with reliable sources to get your fonts. If you are unsure of where to look, Google and Adobe have great font libraries.
Have you ever played “Where’s Waldo”? This children’s picture book game has the goal of finding Waldo, a man wearing a red and white striped shirt out of a group of people. If you are familiar with the game, you probably know that it can be challenging; picking one person out of a crowd where everything is distracting is no easy task. This is how it can feel looking for something on a website with poor headings.
Heading formats indicate what the following section will be about and help the reader find what they’re looking for. What then would happen if a website did not make good use of its headings? Oftentimes, if a user goes to a particular website looking for something, they won’t stick around if it’s too hard to find what they need. This means they often leave the site to find the answers they’re seeking elsewhere.
It is important to think of the user when making these headings. Ask yourself, how will this help people find my article? If you use headings before each new section to briefly let the reader know what it’s about, it will make it easier to find on both the site itself and when using search engines. You can also make sure everything is organized and easy to find by decreasing heading sizes in order. This will make things better for yourself and your readers!
We hope these tips can help you get started with your journey toward building a more accessible website! Here at Studio Q Designs, we value accessibility and understand that this can be a difficult process, especially if you are learning about all this for the first time. If you have any questions or don’t know where to start, please feel free to reach out to us! If you book a consultation, we can answer any questions you may have and further talk about the other ways in which you can improve your website’s accessibility. You can learn more about the work we do by exploring how you can Be an Industry Leader and Elevate Your Digital Spaces
We hope to hear from you soon!