5 Effective Ways to Make Your Website More Accessible

July 30, 2019
John Sheahan

Accessibility web design

Accessibility is one of the most important considerations in all website design projects. Unfortunately, tight budget and deadlines often lead to negligence in making digital products more accessible. While the widely-practised accessibility elements may be implemented, your designer may overlook other finer components of website accessibility.

The good news is that you can easily address many of these lapses. Here are five effective ways that you can implement to make your website more accessible:

1. Choose a CMS that supports accessibility

You have many options when it comes to selecting a content management system to build your website. WordPress and Drupal are the most common and popular content management systems in the world. Both of them support accessibility.

After choosing a CMS that caters to your requirements, be sure to select a more accessible theme. Read up on the theme’s notes on accessibility and instructions for crafting accessible content and designs. The same applies to plugins, widgets, and modules. Also, the CMS admin options like publishing content and posting comments must be user-friendly and accessible.

2. Use heading tags to organize your content

Visitors use the heading structure to navigate through the website content. Using heading tags like <h1> and <h2> can properly organize your website content, enhancing user experience and making your website more accessible. Heading tags also play a critical role in making your website search-engine friendly, which can help increase traffic to your site.

However, you must stick to the correct usage of heading tags. You can do this by distinguishing presentation from structure by using CSS. Headings can make your content visually and technically more structured, meaning that search engines can easily scan it and humans can see, hear, and understand it.

3. Use alt texts for images

You can improve your website’s accessibility by using proper alt texts for images. An alt text can help users understand as to what message you want to convey through the images on the page. The alt text must describe the specific image and convey the message you want to deliver.

Alt texts are displayed to users if for some reasons the browser fails to load the image. If the user is visually impaired, the screen reader will read the text, telling the user what the image is about and helping make the image more accessible. Alt texts also make websites more accessible by describing the images to search engine crawlers.

4. Use colours carefully

About eight per cent of the world population suffers from Deutan colour blindness or red-green colour deficiency. What this means is that using only red and green colours to denote the required fields in a form on a webpage will make it difficult for Deutan colour blind individuals to use your website.

On the other hand, the use of colours to distinguish and structure your content can be of great help to individuals with other medical problems like learning disabilities. To make your website more accessible to colour blind individuals and people with other types of disabilities, choose your colours carefully and combine those colours with other visual indicators like asterisks and question marks. Use visual separators like borders and whitespace to differentiate content blocks.

When it comes to forms, be sure to design and label them carefully and clearly. Putting the labels next to the respective fields can be of greater help to sighted users and screen readers. If your website is built in WordPress, you can use tools like Caldera Forms Builder to create more accessible forms.

5. Make your site keyboard-friendly

For your website to be more accessible, it must be keyboard-friendly, meaning that a user should be able to navigate through the website without the use of a mouse. Many individuals like those with motor disabilities and screen readers rely on a keyboard for navigation. To make your website accessible to these groups of users, be sure to make your site’s primary features like the pages, content, and links accessible via keyboard, mainly via the tab key.

The order in which the features on your website get keyboard function is also important. Keyboard navigation needs to be coherent and instinctive. It should follow the visual flow of the page; going left to right and top to bottom. The header must come first, followed by the primary navigation, then page navigation, and eventually the footer.

Getting started

These were some quick and critical steps that you can take to improve your website accessibility. These tips will not only make your website more accessible but also rank your site higher in search engines.

If you think that your website has accessibility issues, send us an email. We can perform an audit of your website and help make it more accessible.