What makes a website accessible?

You have a website, and you want it to be easy to use for all visitors. But, what exactly does it mean for a website to be accessible, and as a business owner with a website, is there anything actionable that you can do to improve your website accessibility?


What is web accessibility?

Let’s break down what the word accessible means.

For your website to be accessible, it means that it is easy to reach, or easy to use.

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.

Have you ever went online to buy something and realized that the website or app was so hard to use? You couldn’t find out how to add a product, you can’t find the pay button, you made a mistake but you can’t go back, etc. Now do you see why making a website accessible is important?

Are there any problems that people could have with a website?

When learning how to improve website accessibility, you first need to break down the potential problems someone could have on a website.

As someone who has designed and coded websites from e-commerce to web tools, 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 and personally encountered.

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.

This is a problem especially on mobile phones. If people have to expand the page just to see important information, could it be too small? Keep this in mind as you create your website.

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 may not be able to see certain colors, which will prevent them from getting the best experience of your website.

To keep this simple, as much as possible, try to stick with black text over a white background. With most of the websites and apps I’ve created, I’ve tried to stick to this simple rule.

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 the way the website is presented on the screen is different. Things fit differently on a laptop’s screen than phone screen. The website may look a little different, but it still looks presentable on both screens.

Especially for ecommerce and Shopify stores, a lot of people shop online on their phones, so keep that in mind as you create your Shopify website. You don’t want people leaving your website just because it wasn’t easy to use!

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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 website’s accessibility.

Good 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 website accessibility is by having a solid website navigation.

Think of navigation like going through your website.

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 point: 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 phones.

For instance, if you own a 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 or her 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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