7 Effective tips for optimizing your accessible website
(18th June 2021) - Guest blog: Omnicore
In this guest blog learn why web accessibility is important. And gain 7 tips to help you optimize an accessible website.
What is website accessibility?
Website accessibility simply means that your content is readily available, and anyone can operate it. It involves designing your webpage to ensure that there are no hindrances for people with disabilities.
Why is website accessibility important?
Website accessibility is important for two main reasons.
- It makes content easily accessible to people living with a disability - around 15% of the population in the world is living with a disability. Numerically tabulated, that is approximately 1.5 billion people.
- Web accessibility assists brands reach a larger audience. When proper on-page SEO is used, the bounce rate lowers while the conversion rate increases.
How do you optimize an accessible website?
1. Use headings correctly to organize your content structure.
Headers are a powerful resource that, correctly used, organize the layout of your content. They make the content easy to understand and improve its flow.
Headers make your work look neater and allows users to navigate the web pages easily. This is an effective tool for onsite SEO optimization. When properly used, it makes it easier for you to attract more traffic.
How to use headers properly.
- Use <H1> for the primary title alone. Do not use it for anything other than at the title of the post.
- Never skip heading levels, i.e., going from <H1> to <H3>
2. Include Proper ALT text for images and provide captions for video and audio
Images on a webpage bring in a lot of value. An ALT text is a word that describes a picture.
The image’s description comes on whenever a user hovers over the image, and a screen reader can read it aloud.
This not only makes your content fun and functional but also makes it accessible to visually impaired people.
In on-page SEO, alt text provides information about a page for search engines. We are increasing user traffic, accessibility, and SEO user experience.
Using captions to describe video assists in providing information in real-time to non-audio users.
These are closed cations embedded in the video. It means that they can be easily turned on and off.
Captions should synchronize well with the content and be readily available to many devices.
3. Use proper Descriptive Linking
Appropriate descriptive links act as a show and tell. They help screen readers navigate your website and understand the reason for your link and where it will redirect them.
To provide better information, avoid the word “click here” as it is vague and the screen reader cannot understand it. To provide better information, use descriptions with better contextual information around them so, instead of “click here,” you may opt for “contact us for more information.”
Using more descriptive contextual links gives your site an SEO boost, and it is a great on-page SEO checklist.
Pro-tip, do not overuse links in your website because they will make navigation a nightmare, and screen readers will have a hard time skipping them.
Instead, you could place one main link at the beginning of your page, which redirects o=your users to anchor links below. This will assist your users in skipping all unnecessary information.
4. Make use of color with much care
Color brings out the life of a website. However, overuse or misuse of color might inhibit the accessibility of your site. Colorblindness is a real issue affecting over 8% of the population, according to colorblindawareness.org.
You, therefore, need to make sure that the colors selected for your site have good contrast. It will help everyone tell the difference between several elements on the page. For example, using black letters on a white background.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Do not use thin fonts, they are difficult to read.
- Bright colors will be too intense for those with high photosensitivity.
- Ensure the most important elements in your site are not heavily color reliant.
- Keep very clear contrast lines. This helps serve color blind people.
- Make use of features that will help your users increase contrast as they wish.
5. Use keyboard Navigation
For visually impaired users, navigation can be very difficult.
It is advisable to incorporate keyboard navigation. This way, your visitors can make use of braille keyboards.
Many assistive technologies depend upon keyboard-only navigation. You have to ensure that they have accessibility to every area of your site; your pages, links, and content.
To test this, try using your site without a mouse. If you find it challenging to access some areas, address them. Your site will only be ready when you can use your site without a mouse.
Here are a few tips to make your site navigation seamless.
- Ensure you have visual indicators this way; your users will know exactly where they are on your site.
- Organize your content with jump lists. This ensures that your keyboard-only users can navigate faster.
- Ensure that sub-menus and sub-items and visible to screen readers.
- Make use of ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) to support accessibility.
6. Use tables and layouts appropriately
Tables are very effective when it comes to describing and displaying data. Even then, try to use them when necessary and design them to enhance accessibility.
When you use tables to display lists and step-by-step instructions, you will clutter your site and make navigation a nightmare.
Visual readers are programmed in a way that usually interprets one data cell at a time. Therefore, if you misuse tables, it will make understanding complex and confusing.
The same goes for layouts. Complex and hard-to-use layouts not only turn off users but also cause a navigation nightmare to blind people.
Pro-tip - if you create a table, make use of headers correctly for each row and column. Visual readers will understand and interpret the information much more effortlessly.
7. Test your website to see what can be improved
Creating the perfect website takes time. I recommend that you have a beta mentality. When you know that something is not perfect, it has room for improvement.
Testing your site at an individual level and user level will help you pinpoint what needs improvement.
Pro tip - test your website on a mobile device. A website built with a user-friendly design on all devices goes a long way towards boosting accessibility. Google analytics has a page speed analysis tool for mobile devices. This tool will help track your site’s mobile-friendliness.
Optimizing website accessibility can be the holy grail to cracking SEO optimization. This is because it betters user experience. This lowers the bounce rate on your site and ultimately increases conversion rates.
With billions of web users at your disposal, a few tweaks to your website could catapult your website to soaring heights.
Your 8 step plan to accessible and inclusive websites
Creating an accessible and inclusive website isn’t a simple checkbox exercise. It’s a process. After all, websites are forever changing. Maintaining digital accessibility is part of the journey too.
Recently we hosted a webinar with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). During the session, we walk you through an 8 step plan to creating and managing accessible websites and content.