Whether you own a small corner bakery and have a website, you’re an independent web developer creating your own apps, or you’ve created a website with over 100 million yearly users, it’s important for your website to be accessible. But, what exactly is web accessibility, and as a business owner, what actionable steps can you do to improve your web accessibility?
What is web accessibility?
Let’s break down what the word accessible means. To be accessible means that something, or in this case your website, is easy to reach. Dictionary.com puts it as “being easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, use, or understand”. So to have an accessible website, people, or your website visitors, should have no problem using it.
What are some problems people could have with a website?
To see how to improve web accessibility, you first need to break down the potential problems someone could have on a website. As someone who has designed and coded website from e-commerce to web microservices, I can say that there is a lot of problems that could appear. To keep this simple, let’s go over three that I’ve seen.
Text is too small
If text is too small, people will have to strain their eyes, which can irritate them. And the more problems they run into on your website, the more they could be irritated, and soon they may leave and not return.
Not enough color contrast
The best kind of contrast is what you are looking at now, black text over a white background. It’s easy to see, and easy to read information shown. Sooner or later though, you may want to add some colors to your website, but keep in mind that there are those who are color-blind or may not be able to see certain colors, which will prevent them from getting the full experience of your website.
Website or app is not optimized for mobile phones
In this day and age, most people go on the web on their phones. This means that they will be visiting your website from their phones. So if you, or another web developer created your website for computers, but didn’t keep in mind those who would be using it on a phone, then mobile users would not get the best experience.
Is this really true? Well, computer screen sizes are different from phones, so that means information will be shown differently.
Try this: Go on this blog article on your phone and computer, and at the same time, scroll down. You will see that all the words and images look differently. The website may look a little different, but it still looks presentable on both screens.
So, how can I improve my web accessibility?
No website is ever perfect, and of course we always need to make changes. However, there are some actionable steps that you can take right now to improve your web accessibility.
Suitable text size and choice
When looking at a website, there is a hierarchy of information, or a certain way information is presented. One way to improve web accessibility is by including things like headings to help show visitors that a point is about to be made. Creating links to be a different color or have an underline help show visitors the difference between regular text and a link. Having text big enough on mobile phones helps those with vision impairments clearly see what you want them to see.
Good website navigation
Another way to improve web accessibility is by having a solid website navigation. A navigation bar at the top of your website which allows people to see your main website pages is helpful. It allows them to “reset” if they accidentally clicked the wrong thing, and also helps give a gist of what your website is about. Also, including breadcrumbs (those small links usually at the top left that show the last page you were on) helps visitors immediately retrace their steps if they accidentally clicked something, and helps to improve web accessibility.
Key: Part of a good website experience is helping visitors complete their goals. So, imagine a visitor coming to your website to complete a task. How easy is it for them to come and do so? Do they run into any issues? If so, how can you fix them? Asking yourself questions like these is how you can improve your web accessibility.
Optimize website for mobile use
Like we mentioned earlier, most people visit the web on their phones now. This means that your website should be easy to use on it. For instance, if you have an Shopify store, is your store created in a way that it’s easy to see product listing and details on a phone, or only laptop? Can a visitor easily buy a product using just one hand on his cell phone?
Improving website accessibility is something that always needs to be improved, but by using these tips, you can improve your website little by little.
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