Ever heard of a website which isn’t accessible that has made it big in the industry? Nope. It’s unheard of.
You cannot be reaching people from all walks of life if your site isn’t one that can benefit everyone, especially those who are disabled.
The thing is, the majority of people who sit on their computers all day have eye problems, so if your site isn’t readable enough or something that cannot be easily navigated, then they will most likely leave.
Think about it would you use Facebook if it was insanely hard to navigate? So, what can help you make your website accessible?
Let’s look at some of the steps.
First, check your website against the WAI-ARIA or the Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications (say that three times quickly) specification module of the World Wide Web Consortium.
This module will basically give you standards to keep your site accessible.
Very useful tool and don’t ignore it.
Speed Matters For Your Site
Secondly, invest time and energy into enhancing your website.
Since you’re already investing on your site, make it so that it’s done in a layered fashion, meaning that every one, no matter how slow their connection is, or no matter which browser they use, or no matter which device they are using, can access it.
This is called progressive enhancement. This way, people can go on reading whatever their condition is.
I like to use browsershots.org to make sure my sites look good in all browsers.
Also, use Pingdom to check your sites loading time. Not everyone has 50 mbps like me, so I want to make sure I am not killing my site with insanely slow loading times.
Make It Easy For The Reader
Next, make sure to put descriptive captions on images and videos. This way, even those who, say, use screen reading software or maybe those who had disabled images on their computer because of limited bandwidth, can understand the connection of the said content on a site.
Those videos or podcast must have a bit of text underneath it to explain the contents of the video if a full transcript isn’t available.
Screen reading software is being common nowadays, so even the blind can access the Internet, so why not try this for yourself to check if your site is clear even for the blind.
You’ll never know how much it can help those who are visually impaired. Not to mention it makes your site or blog SEO friendly.
Don’t Forget To Test!
Once in a while, test your site for accessibility. Do it yourself or hire a group of people with different resources and different needs to check your site if they can navigate it easily.
Let them tell you what needs to be fixed, or what bugs do they noticed, or what problems they encountered while going through your site.
What I like to do is go to forums that allow site reviews and get as much feedback from them as I can. This helps me make adjustments and build backlinks to your site, as well.
Also, I like Alexa for looking at sites are related to mine. Take note of what people are complaining about. Make sure you improve on it.
Simple Design Is Better Than Busy
Style sheets must also be done in a way that fonts are programmed as variables, instead of fixed fonts.
What’s readable to you might not be for someone who has a sight of +275 on both eyes (that would be me; thanks to the Nintendo). So make sure your font can be changed accordingly.
If you can’t fix these on your style sheets, then add codes that can control font resizing through a button on your website. There are plugins and such that can change the font size on the fly.
Colors! Most people, especially women, fail to remember that while pink looks good, using a neon one as a font or as a background is irritating to the eyes.
Use colors that are cool to the eyes and make sure they aren’t contrasting to each other.
Just a note that I learned in college in a color theory course; warm colors press forward while cool colors reside to the back.
Text must be readable, so black in a white background and white in a black background must be remembered.
At the end of the day, accessibility equals more visitors and more visitors lead to more traffic. The latter is our goal, so make sure you make your site accessible and people will love going back.
Lastly, be consistent on your page elements and design.
In order for people to understand your site navigation easily, make sure elements are located similarly from page to page.
What other tips can you think of that are not in this post? Have you seen some things that drive you up the wall?
I would love to hear it!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net