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How to make your website more accessible


Every website needs to work to attract as many site visitors as possible. Despite this, many website owners don’t put in the work to make sure their website can be used by everyone. There are millions of internet users that rely on sites being accessible, and if you don’t work to understand their needs, you’ll miss out on a huge amount of traffic.

Accessibility isn’t too difficult to implement. You need to understand the issues that can make a website difficult or impossible to use for some people. Once you understand, you can take action to avoid these mistakes and make your site welcoming to all visitors.

An accessible website is better for satisfied customers and can improve your search engine rankings too, so it’s well worth doing.

Ideally, everyone should be able to use any website on the internet. It shouldn’t make a difference if they have a condition that will affect their capability, or what hardware or software they use for assistance.

Millions of internet users have special needs, disabilities, and impairments that can make it hard to use certain kinds of websites. By designing your website with challenges like this in mind, you can make your site much more welcoming to as many users as you can.

You should consider how users with visual impairments, hearing impairment, physical disabilities, photosensitive seizures, or cognitive disabilities will interact with your website.

Make sure your site is keyboard-friendly

This step is perhaps the most important. If a website is going to be accessible, it must work without needing to use a mouse. This is because a lot of assistive technologies rely on keyboard-only navigation. This means it must be possible to use all of the major features on your site using only a keyboard and nothing else. This should include accessing all pages, links, and content.

Most navigation with a keyboard is done using the tab key. This jumps between areas on a page that have keyboard focus, like links, buttons, and forms. Make sure all your web content and navigation can be accessed using the tab key.

To test this, try and navigate your site without your mouse. If you can’t access something, you know which issues need to be addressed.

Make sure all content is easily accessible

As well as making your site keyboard-friendly, you also need to make sure that all the content on the page is accessible. Usually, this isn’t an issue, but dynamic content can cause a problem.

Dynamic content changes without the page having to reload. This can cause issues if the site doesn’t inform assistive tools of the change that has happened. Many screen readers only read the site as it appears when it first loads. You need to alert screen readers that something has changed, or the user will miss the new content.

You can do this by using ARIA landmarks. These are tags that you add in content in order to define it clearly on the page. Tag dynamic content as a live region which allows screen readers and other devices to understand the content when it changes. You can improve website accessibility with AudioEye if you’re struggling to make these changes.

ARIA can also be used to make navigation easier, as it will let users skip straight to specific content, saving them from having to tab through every menu item to get to the main content.

Add alt text to all images

Alt text, or alternative text, acts as a replacement for the image if it fails to load. Alt text (sometimes called alt tags, alt descriptions, or alt attributes) is also accessed by screen readers to read the pictures. You can use alt text to describe an image, giving context to users who can’t see the image and would otherwise miss it.

Alt text also works to improve your site’s SEO. It gives search engines more information to crawl. Write descriptive summaries of each image, and include your keywords where it makes sense to do so.

Choose your colours carefully

Colour-blindness is often misunderstood as an inability to see colour at all. In fact, colours are on a spectrum that people perceive differently. This means you should make sure that the colours you have used on your site contrast well enough to make sure that everyone can tell the difference between various elements on the page.

The most important thing is to make sure that text stands out clearly against the background. Set a dark colour against a light one, and make sure they don’t bleed into one another.

Use headers to structure your content correctly

Another important job is to make your site more accessible by structuring your content with careful use of headers. Using headers well will make your content much easier to understand and improves flow.

Clear headers will also help screen readers to make sense of your pages. This makes it much easier to provide in-page navigation. This is simple to do, as you just need to make sure that you use the correct heading levels in your content.

For instance, you should use H1 only once per page, usually as the main page title. You can follow this with subheadings starting with H2, and then progressing to H3 and H4. Always use these in order, to make things clearer.

Design forms for accessibility

Forms are a useful addition to many websites, but they should always be designed carefully. The most important thing is to make sure that each field is clearly labeled. You should also place the labels adjacent to the respective fields. A sighted user can easily match a label to the correct field, this might not as easy for someone using a screen reader. Make sure you provide instructions and information as clearly as possible so users can understand it.

Don’t use tables for anything other except tubular data

When you’re displaying data, tables are very useful. Tables make it easier for all users, including those who are using assistive technology, to understand large amounts of data. In order to get the maximum benefit, you should be careful to keep any tables as simple as possible.

You should avoid using tables for anything other than tabular data. Never use tables for layouts, lists, or anything else. This is confusing to screen readers and similar assistive devices.

Enable resizable text that doesn’t break your site

Most devices and browsers allow users to resize text, which can be very useful for those who have visual impairments. However, if you don’t support this feature when you build your website, the resizing of text could break your design or make it harder to interact with your site.

It’s good practice to avoid absolute units, such as specifying text size using pixels. Instead, use relative sizes, which will allow the text to scale depending on screen size and other content.

Never turn off user scalability, as this will make it hard for users to resize text at all. Test your font sizes by increasing the zoom level in your own browser. If you find that the content becomes hard to read or navigate, you know you have to make some changes.

Avoid automatic media and navigation

Media files that play automatically have been the bane of the internet for a long time. Not only it is annoying when a web page automatically plays videos or music, but it’s also a problem for accessibility.

When using a screen reader, it can be hard to work out how to turn off media that has automatically started playing. Some users may be startled or confused by the sudden noise. Avoid including any elements that play without a prompt from the user.

You should also avoid automatic navigation, like carousels or sliders. These can be irritating if a viewer needs more time to absorb information before the slide moves on.

Create content with accessibility in mind

Content is the core of your website. When you are designing your website, accessibility is very important, but you should consider accessibility when you are creating your content as well.

This means you will have to pay attention to minor things, such as fully writing out any acronyms, as well as larger points, like making sure all your links have unique, descriptive names and anchor text.

Remember that as well your site being usable by anybody, your content should be approachable and readable for anyone who comes across it.

Web content accessibility matters. Make sure that your site is welcoming to as many people as possible. This should be a top priority when creating a website. There’s no reason to exclude anybody, especially as it isn’t that difficult to avoid doing so. Your users will appreciate an accessible website, and you will likely see the benefits in the form of increased traffic and more conversions.

By taking the time to understand the potential flaws in your website design and content, you can make sure that your site is properly optimized for accessibility.

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