Looking to make your website accessible for all? You’ve come to the right place! In 2022, we’ve been working hard to add web accessibility features to our Fab Brands website. Outlined below are a few steps businesses should take to ensure their website is accessible. Think of it as your “Web Accessibility Checklist.” You’ll find even more information about web accessibility and how Fab Brands can make your website meet accessibility standards here.
SAY IT ALL WITH ALT TEXT
Alt text describes what is happening in an image and why that image is present on a web page. Alt text provides context for those with disabilities (visiting your site) who may have trouble viewing the image.
Here’s why you should make adding alt text to your website a priority:
1) Alt text gives visually impaired individuals a description of each image on your website. This allows the visually impaired the ability to better engage with your brand.
2) You’ll create an improved overall user experience with alt text. In the (hopefully) rare occurrence that your website is either slow to load or does not load properly, alt text will provide ANY visitor to your website with a description of an image. Alt text isn’t only helpful for the visually impaired, but it acts as a “fail safe” to ensure your images are understood by all.
3) Alt text makes your website more “searchable” for Google. When Google sifts through thousands of websites that meet specific search criteria, your website can stand out from the competition by providing Google additional information about your website via alt text descriptions. In fact, Google looks at alt text before it even reads the “regular” text on your website.
YOU’LL ALSO NEED ARIA LABELING
Similar to alt text, you must describe the purpose of links on your site.
Aria labeling (aka “link naming”) helps differently abled users understand WHY they should click on a link and WHERE that link will take them. Thus, naming links makes navigating a website infinitely easier for these individuals.
Instead of the typical random string of words or letters that makes up a URL, aria labeling will give your URL a call to action in the coding of your website. For example, “Shop our leather boots” or “Learn more about succulent plant care.”
Naming your links is yet another layer of detail that will provide those with disabilities context and navigational tools to get the most out of your website! Instead of letting these users get lost and frustrated by your website, why not provide them with a map?
CHECK YOUR COLOR CONTRAST
Besides describing images and links, your website should also consider how the site’s colors contrast with one another. Parker & Kaïa (our two designers) will tell you that there are particular color combinations that bother even those of us without disabilities. Light blue + red, anyone?
The colors you choose to use on your website are not only important for effective branding but are also important tools for website usability. The colors you select should provide enough contrast with one another so that those with color blindness or other eyesight impairments can still read the text on your website.
On the fence regarding whether your colors contrast well enough to meet web accessibility standards? There are plenty of online tools that will check your website’s color contrast and provide you with feedback.
CREATE ACCESSIBLE FORMS
If you have forms on your website, are they easy to use for those with disabilities? Just like with alt text and aria labeling, you must clearly identify the purpose of each field in the form via your website’s coding. This coding ensures that even if a user is visually impaired and cannot see your form, screen readers can still tell the user what information the form requires. The user will then know why they should submit their information to you, what information is being requested, and voila! You’ll gain a new customer!
A Few Final Things to Consider When Optimizing Your Website’s Accessibility:
1) Avoid using sounds (like music) on your website. These can be distracting or distressing for users with auditory sensory issues. This advice applies to videos that autoplay with sound as well.
2) Avoid using pop-up windows in the design of your website. Today, pop-up windows typically generate as a user is about to leave your site. Often, these windows provide a user with a coupon or ask them to subscribe to your newsletter. The intent is to keep the user on your website a moment longer. However, these pop-up windows can prove problematic for differently abled users who are simply trying to navigate your website. Also, pop-up windows are just annoying—for everyone!
3) Don’t have your internal links open in a new window. Instead, ensure that when a user clicks a link on your website, the link opens in the same window. Opening a page in a new window can make navigating back to a previous page difficult for differently abled visitors. That being said, if you have an external link that leads to a different website, that should open in a separate window.
4) Make sure to rank your headers in the order they should be read. You may rank your headers in the coding of your website or via a Google plug-in that is available with some website builders.
All in all, updating your website to make it more accessible will not only bring you into the modern era, but it will also generate more traffic to your website, build your customer base, help you avoid litigation, and most importantly, express your sincere desire to be inclusive.
Fab Brands offers website accessibility assessments and remediation services! We’ve been helping businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest bring their sites into compliance. Contact us today to get started.