Website Accessibility: 8 Ways to Reach Everyone in Your Audience
Your website is judged by several criteria—this is inevitable. Website visitors will consider whether they like the color, look, or copy of the brand. Potential customers will assess how authoritative your business, your product, or your team appears.
But one big criterion that’s way too often overlooked by businesses? access to a website. There are an average of 51 accessibility errors on the homepages of the top million websites.
Website accessibility is essential for any business to reach its entire target audience. So today, we’re going through everything you need to do to get started. Here, we’ll cover:
What Is Website Accessibility?
Website accessibility is the practice of building and maintaining your site in such a way that people of all abilities can access and understand the information. This means making sure that anyone who is blocking the information on your website, is using a screen reader, or is viewing your website, can be understood and understood.
As per the latest Website Accessibility Content Guidelines, website content can be accessed only if it is understandable, operable, understandable, and robust.
Here’s what it means:
- Perceptible: Information must be communicated to users in a way that they can understand (it cannot be invisible to all of their senses).
- Operable: The UI and navigation of a website should function the way users operate.
- Understandable: The UI and operation of the website should be understandable to the user.
- Robust: All website content must be strong enough to be accurately interpreted by users, whether or not they are using assistive technologies.
Website accessibility includes access to your site as well as any tools, dashboards, databases, or other technologies that reside on your site. All of these should be developed with the common goal of making information accessible to people of all abilities.
For this post, we will focus on your web pages, including your homepage, you’re about us page, your blog posts, your landing pages, etc. You must get these right – and let’s find out why.
Why is website accessibility important?
Website accessibility is essential for all businesses so that everyone using the Internet can access and understand the information on your website. Because if your website is not accessible, you run the risk of losing potential customers, alienating your audience, or even facing legal action.
Websites for government offices or private companies with 15 or more employees must be ADA compliant. And lawsuits for inaccessible online content have a precedent.
Compliance is a big reason to keep accessibility in mind when you’re building or redesigning a website, it’s far from the only one. According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people worldwide are living with some form of disability.
You might think that if your website is simple, it won’t affect you. But even the most basic websites are not accessible for completely preventable reasons. An accessibility error is detected in 5.3% of all home page elements. That’s the page element—not just the page. Website accessibility should be a priority.
You want to make sure that your content is as inclusive as possible, and it takes time, effort, and attention. It’s not hard, but it’s important, so you’ll need a plan. And now let’s talk through the website accessibility best practices that you need to know to get started.
Maintaining an accessible website requires attention to all elements of your website design, including media content, site architecture, fonts, and more. It can be overwhelming, but it is necessary, so start with the most important best practices. Here are the key website accessibility standards that everyone working on their website—business owners and marketers alike—need to know.
Choose the Right CMS
It is the first website accessibility best practice as it is the most fundamental. You need a content management system (CMS) that supports all your users and helps you create processes for website development and maintenance that are both effective and easy to manage. This is especially true if you have a small business without a web team for the time being.
WordPress has great features for website accessibility, and it’s easy to use once you get the hang of it. Drupal is another ideal option but may require web dev help. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace can be limited in support of keeping your website accessible – be sure to double-check before committing, or work with a web design agency to create a website that meets all the most up-to-date guidelines.
Use Alternate Text Everywhere
Alt text is essential for website accessibility. The text, which you will usually be prompted to add to all images within your CMS, is contained in an HTML element, and this is what screen readers will translate your image into for someone who can view the graphic. Not your communication technology.
Take this example from Kristen McCormick’s post about words for emotional copywriting:
Image is a wheel that encapsulates feelings and emotions to help give you more options for your marketing copywriting. That’s exactly what Alt Text says so that anyone reading the post with a screen reader will know what’s appearing on the screen.
It should be noted that alt text is also an essential part of our on-page SEO checklist, as this is how Google “sees” the images on your page.
Avoid providing information only with color or imagery
To keep the content of your website accessible to users of various abilities, including users with assistive technologies, you need to avoid any places on your website where you are providing information only through color or imagery. This is not going to make sense to all your users.
For example, take the lead capture form. You cannot alert a user to a wrong entry with just a red box. People with colorblindness won’t be able to detect the difference, and they won’t get the information. Add a text explanation in addition to this color-based cue.
Arrange Your Headings in Order
Headings are important for organizing information in your blog post, as they transfer the importance of the section to the overall post as well as to new sections. These prompts help to convey the logical structure of the post, which is why you can address headings in your brand’s style guide.
But headings are not just a text size or shape, they are an HTML element. This means they can use the screen reader to tell anyone about the structure of the post and the importance of the sections.
This makes it even more important to keep them in order. So remember to always be in order, never go to H4 after H2, and use similar headings to note comparable sections of your content.
Use easy-to-read fonts
Another related tip: Choose a font that’s easy to read. From the point of view of accessibility, this point speaks for itself. But there is also a marketing psychology aspect to it. According to the cognitive fluency effect, the more difficult something is to read, the less reliable it is perceived. Furthermore, if that text is describing instructions, that task is perceived as difficult.
Keep all navigation keyboard friendly
Your website navigation should be accessible to anyone—you want your visitors to be able to engage with your content, check out your product pages, sign up for your newsletters, and more. To keep your website inclusive, you need to ensure that a user can navigate using a keyboard.
Keyboard users typically use the Tab key to navigate the entire website. Running successfully on your site with this key requires testing and some coding setup. Website Accessibility in Mind has a great guide to starting checking your site. Plus, we’ll share a few more tools to check your general accessibility in the next section.
Make Sure the Colors Contrast
Remember that your website design should also be accessible. A very common problem is with color contrast. 86.4% of home pages have low contrast text that falls below the WCAG 2AA threshold—making it the most common website accessibility failure.
The colors of your website, especially the color of the text and its background, should be sufficiently contrasted to be easily read by anyone, whether they have any visual impairment or not.
Make it easy to understand the information in multiple formats
This is the foundation of website accessibility: you need to create content on your website with the knowledge that not everyone will be looking and scrolling through it to access and understand the information.
If you keep this in mind, you’ll remember to add alternative text and keyboard navigation, and you’ll find what you need to communicate information in text, graphics, code, etc., rather than relying on a single source, such as Video or GIF.
Website accessibility standards are a great foundation here – but it doesn’t help until you implement them on your site. Here are some simple, easy-to-use website graders that can identify elements or items that need fixing to make your site inclusive to all of your potential customers.
Sort Site is a quick, free tool that scans your entire website to let you know of any errors, and it provides some context. For each error category, you get a benchmark so that you know how your website stacks up against the average.
This website grader is sleek and clean, and the results are clearly stated in the report. It provides a score, a list of issues, and what needs to be done to fix them.
Website Accessibility Checker Chrome Extension
I love chrome extensions. CSS Pepper helps me assess or test on-brand colors and fonts whenever I need to, and I find it saves me so much time otherwise spent guessing or referencing brand guides. This website accessibility checker provides a way to quickly scan every page you’re on and get instant results—an excellent tool for anyone committed to keeping their website up to date.
On another note, since many accessibility optimizations overlap with SEO optimization, you can use our free website grader to check for missing alt text, heading tags, and other elements.
Prioritize website accessibility for your business
You want to make sure your business and your marketing reach your audience—and to do that, you need to prioritize website reach. Use these free tools to start identifying areas you need to improve on, and then go through website accessibility best practices to make sure you’re compliant and inclusive.
In a nutshell, here is your website accessibility checklist:
- Choose the Right CMS
- Use alternate text everywhere
- Avoid providing information with only color or imagery
- Organize your headings
- Use fonts that are easy to read
- Keep all navigation keyboard friendly
- make sure the colors contrast
- Make information easy to understand in multiple formats