By Lucy Bradley
A question you might not have thought to ask yourself when it comes to your website is whether or not it is accessible. By that, we’re referring to if whether or not your site is correctly designed and developed in a way that allows users with disabilities to have full access to it. A staggering 70% of sites in the UK are inaccessible – don’t fall into that group, it is a legal requirement to make your website accessible. This post will give you a general outline of what to look out for, and how you can break down the barriers affecting accessibility.
When it comes to accessibility, the language of the copy on your site is something very basic to think about as a starting point. How is this language read? For example, if the copy is in Hebrew or Arabic and other languages that are read right to left, it is possible to use a css property called ‘direction’ and this should be set to ‘rtl’ (right to left). It’s easy to miss something like this – but setting this up properly is key to ensuring accessible content.
With all aspects of your website design and development, it’s important to have the areas you are targeting at the forefront of your mind. For example, if your target audience is based in an area overseas where mobiles have low data plans and the speeds are bad – sites should be lightweight so that loading speeds are kept to a minimum. You may even want to consider producing a text-only site in order to aid this, and ensure the site is actually accessible by your target market.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the importance of adding alternative text to any images on your site, and whilst it can seem like a tedious task – it is key when it comes to accessibility for those who are visually impaired. The alternative text you provide is read by a screen reader, and therefore provides semantic meaning and description to the images, thus helping those that need it to better understand the content within your website.
In a similar way, using text in buttons rather than relying on the icons alone is something important to consider when it comes to the design of your website. Icons alone do not let users who may be visually impaired know where to navigate and click on a page – therefore causing them a usability issue. Having text allows a screen reader to describe the function of the button, allowing the user to navigate the site.
Visual content is massive on the marketing scene (read all about the future for it in 2018 here) – so it’s no surprise more and more of us are using video content on our website to engage users further. But you need to ensure that you are making this type of content accessible for all. Adding captions which are a textual representation of the sounds that are on a video ensures that the video is accessible by those hard of hearing.
Colour contrast between the text and the background should be something you’re considering in the design process of your site, as this has a real impact on how well users can perceive the information on the page. It is important not to rely on colour alone to encourage an action, for example clicking a certain coloured button to perform a task – there should be an alternative distinguishing factor (such as a text alternative). Similarly, ensuring any readable elements within the page contrast from the background is key throughout the pages on your site.
It’s important to be careful with flashing visual content – 3 flashes in a second is the recommended rate to show people who suffer from seizures due to photosensitivity. This is known as a ‘blink’ – however a ‘flash’ is where this limit is exceeded, and not enough time is provided for the user to turn it off. So make sure you check your content across all pages!
These are certainly not all the factors to consider when it comes to making your site accessible, but they are some of the top things you should be looking out for! At Frogspark, making sure our sites comply with accessibility laws is a key priority, so if you’re looking for some help – get in touch!