Understanding how to make a website accessible is essential, especially if you want your business to remain the go-to choice for its target audience. In fact, with a growing awareness of digital inclusivity and greater emphasis on it, companies with an online presence need to prioritise and look into ways to ensure their content is accessible to everyone, regardless of any impairment or disability.
This is easier said than done, though, especially if you’re new to the game. But as your marketing and SEO experts – we’re here to help you uncover the essence of web accessibility, including best practices you need to be following online.
Why Should You Be Prioritising Web Accessibility?
When we talk about web accessibility, we’re referring to the development and design of a website, including tools and technologies, that ensures every visitor, including those with disabilities, can access the information and functionalities with ease. This can include the likes or descriptive audio, or even speech navigation.
Without these features, it can make it very difficult for some individuals to access, navigate and engage with content and the businesses behind it. The benefits of web accessibility, however, go beyond audience reach. It enhances overall user experience, can foster corporate social responsibility and has even been shown to boost search engine rankings.
In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 states that services provided online by public and private sectors should be accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities. Despite this, recent research has found that many websites in the UK still lag behind in terms of full accessibility. The charity, AbilityNet, found that less than 1% of website homepages will likely meet the necessary criteria and standards for web accessibility. What’s more, a study completed in 2019, called the Click Away Pound Survey, estimated that UK businesses could be losing around £17 billion due to customers with disabilities not being able to access or engage with websites and therefore clicking away.
Web Accessibility Standards and Guidelines
Peeking from behind the curtain of the internet are the unsung heroes of online experiences – Web Accessibility Standards and Guidelines. These are more than just obscure terminologies only tech experts understand. Instead, they are the driving force of an inclusive online world, providing essential direction for website owners on how to cater to everyone – regardless of physical, sensory, or cognitive abilities.
Among these torchbearers of inclusivity, one stands tall with its prominence – the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (also known as WCAG). This was created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a bunch of digital geniuses working to make the online world a friendlier place for all. Their contribution has given us a rich, intricate framework – that’s easy to follow, helping website owners to design online content that’s completely accessible.
Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of WCAG’s universal presence. No matter where you are, these guidelines are just a click away, aligning perfectly with international accessibility standards, effectively making the web a place where access isn’t a privilege but a norm.
Top Tips to Make a Website Accessible
There are several factors which need to be considered when creating accessible content. See below for a round-up of the most effective ways to ensure your website is understood and accessible to everyone.
Provide Alternative Text, Captions and Descriptions
For those internet users with visual impairments, visual content can be challenging to engage with. However, providing alternative text, video captions and descriptions for multimedia content can help them understand and engage with the content. When you are creating alternative text, be sure to describe as much as possible. Explain the function and content of any images. While you must be descriptive, prioritise being clear and concise without waffling.
Keyboard Accessibility and Navigational Elements
Not everyone can use a mouse to navigate their computer screen. Keyboard accessibility and shortcuts can help those users to view, interact and access content using only their keyboard, however. You need to ensure that your website and online content are optimised for keyboard accessibility, though. This includes any forms that might be on your website and any other interactive elements. Can users operate these via the keyboard? You may also want to provide visible focus indicators to guide users through your site.
Easy to Understand: Clear and Consistent Content Structure
For web users with cognitive disabilities, you need to provide a well-structured website, ensuring all content is easy to understand and use to reduce any confusion. With this in mind, use clear and logical headings and appropriate link text that indicates the destination or purpose of the link.
Compatibility with Assistive Technologies
It’s important to remember that many individuals with disabilities rely on assistive technology like voice recognition software or screen readers, so if your website is optimised to work with these, you’re ensuring that every website user can have a seamless experience with your content. It’s important to use semantic HTML tags to define the content structure clearly, and you should also regularly test your website with the most popular used assistive tools to ensure its compatibility with them.
Accessibility Testing and Evaluation
While it’s important to implement the above strategies into your website development, it’s also just as important to continuously test your website to ensure it remains accessible. You can do this through manual testing as well as automated tools and real user feedback.
Some of the most popular automated tools for testing include WAVE and AXE, both of which can quickly detect common accessibility issues. If you prefer to test your website accessibility manually, navigate your site as a user would and look out for any barriers and challenges that could be experienced. Finally, gathering feedback is one of the best ways to determine exactly how user-friendly your website and its content are. After all, those with disabilities will be able to provide a unique perspective on your website.
According to the Office for National Statistics, nearly 14 million people in the UK have some form of disability. This stat alone highlights the importance of having an accessible website. However, incorporating web accessibility into your website development process is more than just meeting guidelines. You need to ensure everyone has equal opportunities and access. By understanding the importance of web accessibility, as well as some of the best practices mentioned above, businesses can open up doors to a more inclusive digital landscape.
Have A Question? Reach Out Today
We’ve helped many businesses ensure that their websites are faultless in terms of being accessible to everyone. So, if you have any questions about how you can make your website more accessible to all website users, our team of marketing experts and web designers can help – simply get in touch to find out more about what we can do for you.
Posted on Friday, July 28th, 2023 in Latest News.