Creating a website doesn’t just happen. Therefore, a web designer has to consider various factors. The most important factor to consider is web accessibility. In fact, a website has to be equally available to all types of people. All website users must be considered, regardless of the device used, abilities or deficiencies, and the situation.
Any digital product, whether an application or a site should prioritize accessibility during its inception. That’s because all users have the right to access and interact with all the available online information.
This main requirement seems like a tall order to website creators. However, they’re familiar with the basic concepts of web accessibility and the simple checklist that’s to be discussed in this article.
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What Is Web Accessibility?
As an essential component of web development, web designers have the responsibility to make sites easily accessible. Also, they must ensure that the digital products are consumable to all users without restrictions. For instance, persons with disabilities such as visual impairment shouldn’t have difficulties using and interacting with a website. To achieve this, built-in enhancements should be enabled to make all the content more user-friendly.
Why Is Web Accessibility Important?
Accessibility for differently-abled persons isn’t limited to the workplace and other physical settings. Thus, many countries have laws supporting equal access to everyone. Therefore, making it unlawful to discriminate against them on all fronts.
In 2019, for instance, there were 2,235 new web accessibility lawsuits filed in relation to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), before the federal courts.
Furthermore, web accessibility standards are governed by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Specifically, this universally recognized accessibility guide is put together by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). In other words, that’s a global standards organization project run by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The Web Accessibility Checklist
Take a closer look at these essential site components to meet the minimum WCAG guideline requirements.
1. Streamline Your Header Structure
Using sub-headings allows your site to guide readers properly. Similarly, streamlining your header structure can be used for the benefit of users reliant on assistive technologies.
- Label your content structure properly
- Use only one H1 on a page
- Establish a good hierarchy. For instance, H1 should be followed by H2, and so on.
A good header structure allows search engines to scan your content better. Therefore, it ultimately provides a better user experience, similar to improving your site’s loading time.
2. Focus On Your Links
- All hyperlinks should use clear or descriptive phrases to show the users where it leads
- Also, consider avoiding phrases such as, ‘click here’ and the likes
- Indicate to readers if the link opens to a new tab or page
- Inform readers if the link opens a new file—whether a document or video
- Finally, alert the user of the file size, if large files are involved.
3. Label Your Images and Graphics Properly
Alt text, which is generally used to describe images, is helpful for screen readers. In addition, it helps users understand what the image is without having to actually see it.
- Limit the details included in the alt text
- Alt text should reflect the appropriate description of the image
- Lastly, use brief descriptions on decorative or ‘non-essential’ photos
Specifically, WCAG discourages the use of distracting images and graphics. This is because it can be detrimental to persons suffering from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other related issues.
4. Always Include Text Formats In Your Audio & Video Media
Persons with auditory issues shouldn’t be excluded from accessing online data. As a result, WCAG insists on making video and audio more accessible. It is therefore advised that accompanying text captions should be placed on these types of media.
- Always include a closed caption in your video creation process
- Consider embedding captions in all your videos
- Transcripts should also accompany audio files, for instance, podcasts.
Doing these makes online content accessible to all users in ways they prefer.
5. Don’t Rely On Colors To Communicate
The principle of color psychology indicates that specific hues conjure different feelings on individuals. Red, for instance, is said to promote aggression and has the capacity to increase blood rates in some people. Blue, on the other hand, is believed to represent serenity to most people.
Unfortunately, visually impaired individuals can’t discern these things.
- Use clear text and icons to convey important messages to your users
- Add patterns or textures to indicate visual differences on charts, graphs, etc
- Consider using strong color contrast, per WCAG standards. This allows persons with visual deficiencies to see the content better
- Use online contrast checker to be sure.
6. User-Friendly Typography
Typography refers to the entire appearance of the whole page or site.
Web accessibility dictates that all details should be made accessible to all users, even those with vision problems.
Here’s how you can do it as a web developer:
- Make sure typefaces are legible
- Choose characters that have distinct features
- Allow adequate spacing in between characters
- Align large bodies of text to the left
- Make texts easily resizable without affecting the webpage functions
- Limit line lengths to 66 characters per line
- Consider using typefaces developed by the Braille Institute.
7. Make Your Site More Navigation-Friendly
Users often use a mouse to explore a site. Sometimes, though, users can only use a keyboard to navigate the web. Therefore, designers should keep this in mind when developing the site.
- Don’t overcrowd the navigation tab
- Make your site capable of accepting keyboard navigation
- Utilize HTML landmark elements to assist users relying on assistive technology to explore and understand your content better.
8. Create User-Friendly Forms
Form-filling has a lot of useful functions in a business. For instance, digital marketing allows a company to learn more about the client and visitor demographics. In e-commerce, it facilitates the completion of transactions, with users filling up their postal addresses and other information.
Unfortunately, some forms may be confusing to fill in. Thus, to make them more user-friendly and accessible, here’s what you can do:
- Don’t remove key boundaries and borders
- Use form fields with clear labels
- Use auto-fills
- Place margins and boxes
- Label all form fields.
9. Test Your Site
The only way to find out your site’s accessibility is to test it with persons who have specific needs. However, while waiting to have a group of testers who fall into this category, you can test the following elements: HTML verification, color contrast, navigation, form-filling, and submission, among other components, discussed earlier in this article.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways to ensure the accessibility of your site. The outstanding principles, however, revolve around inclusivity, easily digestible content, and user experience. Lastly, keep these key concepts in designing your site and you can never go wrong.
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