Something that is vital to the success of a website—but oftentimes people forget about—is web accessibility. Web Accessibility means having your website accessible to people with disabilities. These disabilities can be visual (blindness, color blindness), hearing-related (deafness), motor-related (inability to use a mouse), or cognitive (learning disabilities). It’s important to consider accessibility when building your website, otherwise you’re excluding quite a few people from your target audience! Here I will be listing some basic things that you should consider when designing your website to be accessible, but for further and fuller details on the matter you should check out the sources I’ve linked to at the bottom of the page.
- Provide “alt” content for images:
Add alternative text for non-textual items; for instance, for a photo of roses you can go into the <img src=”roses.jpg” /> tag and add an ‘alt = “Red Roses”‘ attribute inside the tag (so in the end it would look like <img src=”roses.jpg” alt=”Red Roses” />). Doing this will provide text for screen readers, so those who are blind are still able to know what the content is.
- Provide clear document structure:
Not only does having a good document structure important when coding, but it can also be beneficial to those utilizing screen readers. Providing structural elements (headings, lists, navigation, etc.) gives meaning to your content, which makes it easier for users to understand the purpose of each bit of content. For example, having <h1>Roses</h1> tells users that this is likely the main subject of the page.
- Make all elements accessible by keyboard:
Some users do not always have a mouse, and some users may not have the fine motor skills necessary to control a mouse. Therefore, you should aim to have all your website elements accessible through a keyboard and not solely rely on a user having a mouse; having a good document structure can help with this as it allows for users to be able to tab through content.
- Provide transcripts for podcasts, video, etc.:
For users who have hearing disabilities, they will not be able to listen to your podcasts or videos. Provide a transcript for your audio-based content so that users are able to read the content. Not only will you make your content more accessible to users, but it will actually help boost your website’s ranking in search engines (spiders and bots cannot hear either!).
- Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning:
Color blindness is not uncommon, and so you should try to refrain from making content dependent on color. A warning text (such as <span>Alert:</span>) that only stands out because it is colored red does not make it accessible; you should try adding other styles to help it stand out, such as making it bold, uppercase, AND red.
- Provide meaningful headers and captions to content:
Having appropriate headers and captions can help give content some context in the grand scheme of the webpage. This is particularly important for table elements that rely on data organization (so make sure every column has the correct <th> table header tag).
- Make text links sensible:
When providing links on your webpage, don’t use link titles such as “Click Here”, “Link” or “More”. Some screen readers skip straight to links, and having titles such as these out-of-context can be very confusing to a user. Aim to have clear and meaningful titles that make sense no matter where you see them, such as “Types of Roses” or “How to Care for Roses” that give a good indication of what page you’re able to navigate to.
As stated before, these are just some very basic tips that you can keep in mind when designing your website to be accessible; there are LOTS more that you can (and should) consider, so I recommend researching more on the topic.
Don’t think of web accessibility as something that only affects disabled users—web accessibility can be beneficial to non-disabled users as well, such as those with slow internet connection, or those who might have a temporary disability, etc. If you’re able to do so, you should aim to provide equal opportunity to all of your users to access your content.