How to Make a Website Accessible to All
TechsPlace | According to Best Website Accessibility, “97% of websites are not complying with the global web regulations.” This shows that only 3% of websites take into consideration the needs of their disabled users.
People with disabilities that find using the internet difficult will leave a website within 10 seconds if it’s too difficult for them to use. This costs businesses billions of pounds every year.
Having a website that isn’t accessible is frustrating to the users. Having an inaccessible website is also a legal requirement that you could end up getting sued for if you weren’t to comply; just ask Beyonce.
In this article, we will look at some of the easiest ways to make your website accessible for disabled users, and by the end of it, you will know what to look for on your own website and how to fix any issues it may have.
1. Using the correct markup within your website
Users with visual impairments will find it difficult to browse your website if you don’t use the correct markup within your website. Users with visual impairments will use software called a screen reader, which reads out the content of a website.
Screen readers are advanced pieces of software, but they still have their limitations, and if you have marked up your website incorrectly, they can’t provide the right information back to your users.
One example of bad markup is not using the image ALT tag correctly. The image ALT tag allows you to enter a small bit of text which tells a screen-reader and other software such as search engine bots what an image is about. Some marketers spam this ALT tag with the keywords they want their website to show up for, but this doesn’t help disabled users.
Disabled users need a description in the ALT text to know what an image is about.
A bad ALT text would be “shoes for sale,” while a good ALT text in a similar example would be something along the lines of “white football boots being held by a man.”
As you can see from the above, one ALT text doesn’t provide the user with any context while the other does.
2. Give your users the option to change font size
Some users with visual impairments won’t need a screen reader but will need help to increase the font size. Most websites don’t have this ability, and users with visual impairments struggle to read the text.
3. Make your website navigation simple to use
A complex navigation system may look attractive in terms of design, but to users with additional needs, complex navigation makes it near impossible to browse a website.
Users with mobility issues may not be able to use a mouse to navigate a website, so they often use a key such as a tab key to navigate from one link to the next. If you have hundreds of links in the navigation, you simply can’t navigate the site by clicking a button.
4. Use an accessibility friendly CMS
The content management system your website uses will play a big part in the accessibility of a website. Some custom solutions, for example, may not have been built with website accessibility in mind. Whereas open-source website management systems such as WordPress have been.
If you are looking for an accessible CMS for your website, WordPress is a good choice as out of the box; it’s coded to a good standard. When using open-source software such as WordPress, you need to be careful when you use third-party plugins, as their developers may not have coded the software with accessibility in mind.
The same can be said about website themes, as most WordPress website users will use themes developed by others. These themes, once again, can cause a problem as their developers will not have thought about website accessibility.
If you choose to use a CMS such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or many of the most commonly used content management systems, then consider hiring a developer to check the site out to see if the website complies with accessibility standards.
Above are some of the things that can help disabled users when they land on your website. However, there are many more, and to solve these issues, you generally have two options.
The first option is to hire a developer with knowledge of accessibility issues and then hire them to fix the issues your site has. If you do go down this option, you should have the developer give you a quote for the rough costs as you don’t want to be paid hourly as you don’t know what issues your site has and how long it will take to fix them.
Getting a quote from a developer will give you some idea of the costs involved so you can at least budget for it.
The second option, and in my opinion the quickest and easiest, is to add an automated website accessibility solution that takes care of the above just by adding a few lines of code to your website. If you aren’t a coder, you could still hire someone to do this for you.
These prebuilt solutions often require a subscription fee, so you will need to consider that. Still, with that said, it’s only a small fee, and your website is made accessible to all users within a few minutes of installing it.
In this day and age, having an accessible website is a must, and ignoring the problems your website may have could lead you to have a legal dispute. Not only that, but your website is losing you money if it isn’t accessible, and you are providing potential customers with a terrible user experience.