Ensuring that your website is accessible and inclusive is not only a right thing to do but also a legal requirement for most countries. An accessible and inclusive web design ensures that it removes any forms of bias and assumptions. This meant that people of all demographics and impairments would be able to access your website and understand its content in its entirety. This may seem like a daunting task for those who just ventured into web design. There are however some common best practices that web designers, regardless of their experience, would be able to adopt. This blog cover inclusive website design examples, and we will analyze some of these best practices and their importance in creating an accessible and inclusive to everyone.
2. Importance of an Accessible and Inclusive Web Design
There are several reasons why having an accessible and inclusive website has become such a necessity. Firstly, it ensures that everyone, regardless of their disabilities, have access to your website’s content and services. This is especially important for users who have disabilities. It is inevitable for them to face significant barriers when using the internet. Thus, it is essential that everyone has equal access.
Secondly, having such a website would help you reach a wider audience. Many everyday users of the internet are too, people with disabilities. Making your content and services accessible to them helps you develop a stronger relationship with them. This expands your reach to a larger pool of loyal customers who could become promoters of your brand.
Thirdly, it helps your website rank better on search engines. This is because you would be adopting an important search engine optimization (SEO) best practice. There are various factors that your website could be ranked for on these search engines. One of them would include the accessibility and inclusiveness of your website. In a study by Search Engine Journal, more accessible websites are often ranked higher. The average ranking of a highly accessible website was 10.5 as compared to an average of 17 of a less accessible one.
Finally, designing an accessible and inclusive website can help in avoiding potential legal issues. In many countries, laws have been enforced for web designers to take into consideration users with disabilities. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses operating in the US make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.
There are several best practices that one could adopt to ensure the accessibility and inclusivity of your website. These factors range from choosing the right colors, the addition of alternative texts for your multimedia and images and the use of descriptive links and headings. In the following sections, we will delve into each factor and analyze how they can be implemented the right way.
3. Use Clear and Concise Language
A rule of thumb in accessibility and inclusive design is to ensure that your website avoid the use of jargon and technical terms that are not commonly known. Adopting simple and straightforward language, otherwise known as clear language, would make it easier for people to read, understand and comprehend. Concise language, on the other hand, would require you to keep your content succinct. This means using fewer words to convey the same meaning.
This would be especially useful for people with dyslexia, ADHD or other cognitive impairments. These people may find it difficult to process complex language and lengthy sentences. Thus, it is important that your content are also accessible to them. Using a clear and concise language would also help you reach a wider audience more effectively. This is because the risk of confusion and frustration as a result of misinterpretation and miscommunication would be minimized.
Furthermore, user experience would also be enhanced if you were to adopt a clear and concise language. It is human nature for users to lean towards reading things that are easier to comprehend. Moreover, users would stay engaged with your content and remain on your page for longer periods of time when they understand your content. This increases the chances of them taking the desired actions.
Your choice of colors can also impact the user experience of your website greatly. Individuals with visual impairments might find it difficult to differentiate and recognize certain colors and their shades. Users who are color blind has it worse as they may not be able to perceive certain colors at all. To solve this problem, you can consider adopting contrasting colors for your text and background. This would make your text or certain elements more readable and legible while accentuating the important points on the page. For instance, black texts on a white background would be easier for users to read than light grey text on a light blue background.
Colors should also not be used solely to convey meaning as people who have color perception issues would find it a challenge. By switching it to other forms of design elements like icons, allows you to convey the information in a more user-friendly way. The combination of colors and these design elements can also spice up your website, making it more visually appealing and accessible.
4. Provide Alternative Text for Images and Multimedia
The addition of alternate text, or alt text, can significantly improve the usability and accessibility of a website. By attaching it to your multimedia and images, it provides users with visual impairments with a description of the context of your image. This reduces the need for them to second guess themselves as they try to decipher the meaning of said image or multimedia. This is especially important because some readers may not be able to interpret images. Without these alt texts, these users would not be able to understand the context and the message you are trying to convey. Confusion would be the last thing you want your users to experience when using your website.
To write a good alt text, it has to be concise and descriptive. It also has to describe the context and function of the multimedia or image accurately. Give specific information and descriptions and avoid using vague words like “image” or “photo”. It is important to set the scene of the image well for your users to understand better. For instance, instead of “a woman with her dog”, you should consider “a woman holding a dog in the park”. For multimedia, providing a transcription and captioning for any spoken content would make the comprehending process less taxing for your audiences. This also makes it easier for users with hearing impairments to understand the content.
5. Use Descriptive Links and Headings
Descriptive links and headings is another important practice to adopt in an accessible and inclusive web design. Using a clear and descriptive language in your links and headings helps users better understand what they are viewing on your page. This also makes navigating around the website easier and more intuitive. Users can find the information they need more quickly and efficiently as a result. User experience would be enhanced as well. Moreover, descriptive links and headings can also improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines use these information to understand the content of your pages.
It is essential for your descriptive links and headings to be structured in a logical and hierarchical way. Prioritize the higher level headings for the most important information and the less important ones should be given a lower level heading. This would be the most intuitive way of understanding information for your users. It also helps them overcome their selective attention by focusing their attention on the important information first. They can also better navigate around your website and find the information they need quickly. This ultimately improve the overall usability of your website.
6. Provide Captions and Transcripts for Audio and Video Content
The inclusion of captions and transcriptions for your video and audio content would benefit users who are deaf or have difficulties in hearing. It also helps users who speak different languages or have difficulty understanding various accents and dialects better understand your content. In other words, the risk of a language barrier could be minimized. Those who are suffering from auditory processing disorders would also appreciate that you took the extra step to include those features. As digitalization of our media continues to take the world by storm, more users would prefer to listen to an audio or video content. However, there would still be those who prefer to read these content. For the latter, these captions and transcriptions would serve them better.
Furthermore, captions and transcriptions also make your website more search engine friendly. Search engines can index the text and make it easier for your users to find your content through their queries. The increase of your sales and ROI would follow as the visibility and traffic of your website increases. This however only scratches the surface of the number of benefits you can enjoy with a search engine friendly website.
This blog has analyzed the characteristics of an accessible and inclusive web design. To recap, you can achieve one by adopting a clear and concise language, picking your colors wisely and providing alternative text for your images and multimedia. Using descriptive links and headings and providing captions and transcriptions for your audio and video content would also make your website more accessible and inclusive. These practices would help boost your search engine rankings, broaden your current pool of audience and enhance your website’s overall user experience.