Be someone they can depend on
Now more than ever before, being able to access your website is essential to your users and customers
During these uncertain times, people are using websites more than ever before to communicate with, learn about and purchase products and services. You don’t want to miss out on potential customers or business, simply because someone can’t access the parts of your website they need. Although there currently is not a way to have a 100% accessible website due to the inability to test for every sort of assisted technology and disability available, the U.S. and international standard for accessibility is WCAG 2.2 AA. This is a set of guidelines that if followed, will help ensure that your website can be accessed and used by any user, regardless if they have a disability or not.
Users want to be treated like family.
Usability and reliability from a website can go a very long way. Your website can provide a sense of stability and comfort for your users; just like family. If users have an easy time accessing what they need from you and are able to learn what they need to know, they are likely to return to you and view you as source they can count on. Don’t let website barriers get in your way from becoming someone your users depend on.
What can YOU do to make sure your site is accessible to your users?
Take the time and check your site for barriers that may cause issues for users. An accessible website is not just important for the blind or for those with mobility issues. Try to look at your website from all permanent and temporary disability viewpoints. Focus on Cognitive, Visual, and Mobility issues.
- What is the main reason that people go to your site? Is that action easy to find/perform?
- Does the content flow in a way that makes sense and is easy to read and follow on the page? Make the important information clear, and give the user clear actions to follow.
- It is best practice to keep your content at an 8th grade reading level so it is most accessible by all users.
- Do not use ALL CAPS for more than a short headline because it is difficult for screen readers to understand, and can be interpreted as screaming.
- Do not use underlines in your content unless necessary. It is best practice to have all links underlined within your website. Using underlines outside of links can confuse some users.
- Do you have any timed actions on your site or flashing images? Both should be removed if possible. Don’t rush users to complete a task.
- How are the colors on your website? Colors on a website impact more than just those who are colorblind. Sunlight, low light, elderly, eye injury, headaches, all can also have a role in how color is viewed on a page. You want to make sure that your site has high enough color contrast so that no matter who is using your site, or what conditions they are in, the colors are readable. An easy way to test if you have enough color contrast is to print out each page of your website in black and white only, the user should still be able to clearly understand everything on the page.
- Do your links make sense when read alone? Screen readers often navigate through a page via links only so if your link/button name doesn’t explain where it will take the user, they will not be able to get the information they need. Are links uniquely styled on your site so that users are easily able to locate them? It is best practice to have them underlined.
- Do all of your images used within a page or post have alternative text? Alt text is important so that if the user is unable to load the image due to slow internet service or in need of a screen reader, there is text describing the image. It is necessary to include alt text on any image that adds meaning or creates a sense of emotion to the content. If the image does not do so, the use of “” can be used instead of alt text so that screen readers will skip over it.
- Is your website able to be used with a keyboard alone? Many people with mobility issues are not able to use a mouse.
- Click the tab button when you are on your website. Can you see where the focus box is located? Keep clicking the tab button and see if it navigates throughout your site the way that you want it to. It is extremely important for users to be able to know where they are located on the page and that the tab follows a logical reading order.
- Check your website on mobile. Are your buttons large enough to be easily clickable? Are forms easy to click on and fill out on mobile? Try holding your phone and navigating with just your thumb only – can you? If not, you should think about trying to make your mobile version easier to use.
I look forward to the day when designers and developers will realize the power that they have over my own ability to succeed.”
– Mike, a blind web user
The most important thing you can do is to clearly let the user know how to reach you if they have questions or experience any issues with your website. Provide an accessibility statement in the footer of your website that clearly states that you care about your users experience and are trying to make your website as accessible as you can. It is important to provide a contact number and specific days and times of the week that someone would be available to assist them with any accessibility issues. Then, make sure you have someone ready and prepared to handle any issues that users may have.
Don’t let website accessibility scare you. Reducing any website barriers you can will be a very good thing for you, your business and for your users. Allowing an easier way to find your information, products and services is your best step in getting your users to depend on you and to feel like you care about them and their needs.
Clients should talk to your Account Director today to learn more about what an accessibility audit consists of and to schedule one for your website.
Learn more about Accessibility
- What is accessibility and why does it matter?
- Understanding website accessibility regulations
- Have you considered an Accessibility Audit?
- Accessibility is NOT just for people with disabilities
- Understanding Website Accessibility in 2020
LATEST ACCESSIBILITY UPDATE (January 2020): Due to the proposed updates to ADA regulations being officially withdrawn by the DOJ, there is no set date to enforcing that the WCAG 2.1 Guidelines be turned into a testable set of requirements. However, if your business provides a “place of public accommodation”, it will be required to be made accessible to all people sooner or later. It is best to start the process now, before there are legal requirements and deadlines. Learn more about US accessibility policies.