Everything from food, fashion, entertainment to science and businesses, is majorly digital today. Why is that? It is because most of the people today have open access to the Internet which exposes them to a variety of data and gives them everything they need at their fingertips (literally).
It is, therefore, vital that as a start-up, you venture majorly into the digital space. When you make your business digital, you pave the way for customer interaction which in turn aids to your brand recognition resulting in the success of your business.
However, it is not as simple as it seems. You can’t just create a website and expect people would come to your site simply because you’re digital.
To ensure the success of your venture, you need to design your website keeping the needs of the consumer in your mind.
Focus on quality content and services and equal access for the same on your site for your audience.
Protect your company from potential fines and lawsuits resulting from an inaccessible website.
Showcase your brand's commitment to serving a diverse audience.
You could create an aesthetically pleasing site but what use would it be off if your website is hard to navigate around for the visitors.
Website accessibility is often something that is looked over. It is a very vital part of creating a unique website because more people will be able to use your site - meaning more potential customers. It improves the experience, especially for mobile users, also improves your search engine rankings along with it.
There’s a misconception that web accessibility requires sacrifices to aesthetics. This is just not true. You can have the best of both worlds and you just need to follow a few simple steps to achieve that.
Before you make your website accessible to the public, ensure that you have done enough test runs to understand how the site works and looks in the user’s perspective.
First impressions are everything when it comes to a digital website. That doesn’t mean you can’t make changes as you go, but when you finally launch your site and a lot of your customers are dissatisfied navigating within your site, chances are they may not want to come back to your portal.
A website built with a clean, user-friendly design may go a long way toward meeting accessibility goals.
Google has confirmed that mobile-friendliness is now a ranking factor.
It is important to even test your site on smart devices such as mobile and tablets as well to check the user-friendliness of your website to ensure your users have a good experience overall.
Screen reader users can use the heading structure to navigate content.
These title attributes are like short summaries that describe where the hyperlink will take the user who clicks on it.
Use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to create an organised structure of headings and presentation.
Do not pick a header for the sake of it looking visually pleasing instead, create a new CSS class to style your text.
Examples of proper use of headings:
Use <h1> for the primary title of the page and avoid using it for anything other than the title of the website and the title of individual pages.
Use headings to indicate and organise your content structure.
Do not skip heading levels.
This web accessibility guideline is of great help for people with vision deficiencies that use screen-reading technology.
There are many content management systems available to help you build your website and they are essential to website accessibility.
After choosing a CMS, you need to choose a theme/template that is accessible after consulting the theme's documentation for accessibility and for creating accessible content, layouts, modules, plugins and widgets.
For elements like editing toolbars and video players, make sure that they support creating accessible content.
Place important links and other interactive elements higher up your web pages.
But this is especially important when a user, due to certain disabilities or situations, cannot use conventional devices such as a mouse to get to their desired results. They then have to resort to scrolling through the entire page before the result comes up.
This rule applies in general too as most website users, regardless of physical or mental ability, expect important items closer to the top of a web page.
Use relevant text that properly describes where the link will go when including links in your content.
"Click Here" is not descriptive and is even ineffective for a screen reader user.
Using descriptive text properly explains the context of links to the screen reader user.
The most unique content of the link should be presented first, as screen reader users will often navigate the links list by searching by the first letter.
Labelling your input elements with a descriptive and informative text is important to specify to the user what information they need to provide.
One of the primary forms in terms of website interaction is HTML web forms. Owing to the importance of these web forms, for universal design, making sure that you use correct markup is vital.
You can use multiple tools for the perfect colour contrast to make your page visually usable to people with colour blindness or low vision. A sharp colour contrast will effectively help those with colour deficiencies.
The colours also help in strengthening brand recognition and can also indicate, direct and orient users through the website. A well-designed website, in general, will not cause any issues with those individuals who have difficulties in distinguishing colour.
Certain types of content cannot be consumed by some demographics. For example, audio content cannot be accessed by those with hearing disabilities. So, ensure that you include alternatives on your website.
For instance, if you are making use of audio content, then ensure that there is a written transcript of the content below or attached to the file that can be easily accessed. Adapt your content to various such individuals with disabilities so that they have easy access to alternatives.
When you are adding images with the website content, ensure that you use alt text or links to explain the purpose of the image. Especially with images like info-graphics or vital information, alt text is necessary to give proper information and description to the user.
Only in cases where the image is used just for aesthetic purposes, alt text is to be avoided as it can be distracting and unnecessary for the users.
When you provide a video-based content for your audiences, you should keep in mind to provide captions in real-time for the same.
This provides content for users who don’t have access to audio. You can include closed captions, which can be turned off and on, or open captions that are embedded directly in the video file.
However, these captions should be properly synchronised with the content and be accessible on a variety of devices.
These are a few suggestive steps that will help you take your business to the next level in the digital space. Your website will be more accessible which will help search engines understand your site better thereby increasing your search rankings which in turn will ensure maximum customer engagement.