By Aaron Davis, Head of Digital at Truly Content Ltd.
Building an accessible website has become an essential aspect of modern web development. With the ever-increasing importance of user experience and digital inclusion, it is crucial to ensure that websites are designed to accommodate all users, regardless of their abilities. In this editorial, we will explore the key factors to remember when aiming to build an accessible website.
The Importance of Web Accessibility
Building an accessible website isn’t just a moral responsibility but also a smart business move. Companies should want their businesses to be available to all, building a website that everyone can use widens the scope for potential customers and may even affect the amount of traffic going to your site.
Although accessibility isn’t proven to have any effect on SEO rankings, Google is currently making strong hints that this will become a driving factor when ranking sites in the coming years, with their website even stating, ‘Everyone should be able to access and enjoy the web. We’re committed to making that a reality.’ Although accessibility does not directly impact SEO rankings at the moment, it is important to note that SEO and accessibility are intended to complement each other. The reason behind this is that accessibility aids search engine algorithms in comprehending content more effectively, consequently enhancing searchability.
Now that we understand the need for websites to deliver content effectively to everyone, let’s dive into how to make this happen when building your own website.
Back To Basics
First and foremost, understanding the basics of website accessibility is vital. Certain features and design considerations should be incorporated to ensure a site is accessible to a diverse range of users. For instance, providing alternative text descriptions for images is essential for visually impaired individuals who rely on screen readers to navigate the web. It is also crucial to ensure proper colour contrast to accommodate users with visual impairments and colour blindness.
Additionally, providing clear and concise headings, subheadings and content organisation enables users to navigate a website easily. Implementing keyboard accessibility allows individuals who cannot use a mouse to navigate and interact with a site effectively. Simple yet effective practices like these can greatly enhance the accessibility of a website and improve the user experience for all visitors.
Into the Nitty-Gritty
When it comes to specific standards, it is essential to adhere to established guidelines and regulations. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) offer comprehensive and widely accepted standards for web accessibility. WCAG outlines various criteria and success criteria that web developers should strive to meet. These include aspects such as perceivable content, operable user interfaces, understandable information, and robust coding practices.
Ensuring code compliance with accessibility standards can be a complex task. However, there are numerous tools and resources available that can help developers evaluate and validate their code. By using automated accessibility testing tools such as Google Lighthouse, we can identify any potential accessibility issues within the codebase. Additionally, manual testing and user feedback can provide valuable insights into the user experience and highlight areas that require improvement.
Another crucial aspect of building an accessible website is effective collaboration between entrepreneurs and web designers, with a particular focus on developing a user-friendly UX/UI. Entrepreneurs often have a unique vision for their websites, and it is important to communicate this vision to the designers while keeping accessibility in mind. Moreover, incorporating UX/UI considerations into this collaboration can be incredibly useful.
Entrepreneurs and designers should engage in open and honest discussions to not only share the entrepreneur’s vision but also emphasise the importance of creating an intuitive and user-friendly interface. This collaborative effort ensures that the website not only meets accessibility requirements but also offers a seamless and enjoyable experience for all users.
By considering the basics of accessibility, adhering to established standards, and integrating UX/UI principles into the development process, businesses can create inclusive websites that not only provide an exceptional user experience for all visitors but also align closely with the entrepreneur’s original vision. Investing time and effort into this holistic approach to web development can open doors to a wider audience, enhance brand reputation, and drive long-term success in the digital landscape.