Too many businesses underestimate the importance of website accessibility in 2018. We understand it’s not the most exciting thing to deal with in web design. For many web designers, they dread having to figure out how to make websites look fun and thrilling while keeping them as usable as possible for those with disabilities.
When there’s a lot of time and effort put into your website’s branding, functionality, design, and colors, accessibility becomes an afterthought which is a colossal mistake for lead generation. A great website needs to be usable for everyone regardless of whether all their abilities are intact.
Website accessibility should always be a top concern when building a new business website. It will help keep your business out of trouble and adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
19% of the American population has a disability that affects them and their internet use. This translates into nearly 57 million people altogether.
By considering these people when building an accessible website, you’re doing your part to send a powerful message and let the public know that you have a business which accommodates all walks of life.
Here’s a guide on how you can make your business website more accessible in 2018 without compromising your branding. Hopefully, you will find that website accessibility isn’t so dreadful after all.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, granting disabled Americans legal and civil rights under the law. Businesses could not discriminate against people because of their disabilities in employment.
These establishments would also need to create environments most friendly to the disabled, like enough room for those in wheelchairs to enter or provide accommodations in the workplace. At the time, it was difficult to predict how businesses would take much of their operations to the internet. In 2018, times have changed, and there’s a lot more business taking place entirely online.
As a result, the ADA has been expanded to target businesses online too. This year alone, there have been tons of class action lawsuits against companies whose websites don’t comply with the ADA. Big brands such as Netflix and Burger King were greatly affected by the lawsuits. There’s going to be a lot more of these events happening as more businesses make their transition to digital. It’s best not to take chances and be proactive in improving your website’s accessibility now before your company gets sued. After all, first-time offenses come with a hefty fine of $75,000!
How to Address Some of the Most Common Website Accessibility Complaints
So website accessibility is a much bigger deal than many business owners believe. It’s not adequate to only focus on responsive design or branding anymore.
Somehow, you’re going to need to tackle the issue of website accessibility even if it requires a bit of extra time and planning to get right. It doesn’t have to be such a huge burden though. With these solutions, you can keep your website accessible without losing all the charm and appeal that your target audience will like.
Low Contrasting Colors
Here’s one of the bigger website accessibility complaints you’ll have to address. If the colors on your website are too low, your pages will be harder for those with low vision and color blindness to see important features on your website like call-to-action buttons. The latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines stresses that your website’s colors need to be visible in forms and fields to let site visitors know what information is required.
Make it easier for your website visitors to differentiate between links and text by using clearly visible colors there as well. Here’s a clip from an episode of National Geographic’s Brain Games to help you understand why colorblind and low vision individuals see certain colors differently.
You can also use the Colorblind Web Page Filter to test your website and find ways to improve the colors and contrast.
There’s No Alt Text on Website Images
SEO marketers are always talking about the importance of alt-text, but did you know they also are a way to improve your website accessibility?
Alt text is an HTML attribute applied to website images to describe what they are. Sometimes your website will show up in Google’s image search with the right search engine optimization. For those times when your website’s loading extremely slow, alt-text makes the user accessibility much better. Even when your images aren’t loading on the page right away, your website visitors will still have an idea of what they are.
You improve the website engagement, accessibility, user experience, and SEO all in one shot thanks to the power of alt-text!
Website Links Aren’t Descriptive Enough
“Click Now” or “Click Me Here” doesn’t tell the user much of anything. You’re likely to confuse them by not making your website links and buttons clear, specific, and distinct.
Instead of using these generic link texts on your site, try to look at each page the link goes to and create a specific website link that will tell the user what they will see.
For example, a service waterfall page on a website would be linked on the home page with a link like “View More Services” or “Browse Related Services.” Keeping your links descriptive also adds more to a user’s website experience and accessibility.
Website Content is Unreadable
Easy to read website copy keeps your website accessibility in check and boosts engagement rates. People don’t want to read content that sounds too complicated or has too many unusual words. Your content needs to be readable to as many people possible. Use the readability scoring in the Yoast SEO plugin as a start or use the Hemingway Editor to minimize passive voice. Break up longer paragraphs and use transition words to keep your content’s flow smooth.
Heading Structure on Pages is Nonexistent
This is also another accessibility concern for content on your website. Many people like to skim through the headings to find the information they want to read. Each page on your website should have one H1 tag to indicate what the topic covers. Then, there should be H2 and H3 tags designated for topics within the main content. Proper use of HTML heading tags keeps your content better organized and readable and adds more to your SEO too!
Not All the Content Is Accessible with a Keyboard
Some internet users aren’t able to use a mouse because they have repetitive strain injuries or blindness. Your website should be accessible with a keyboard alone. This means the user should be able to use the up and down keys to scroll up and down on each page. The CSS on your website and any scripts written should make it easier for a user to scroll and jump around to find the content they want to read easier. These standards also apply to any website forms, links, and buttons.
Website accessibility doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your business website design. Many of these changes will improve the user experience and boost website engagement rates considerably.
Furthermore, keeping your website compliant with ADA standards creates more SEO-friendly pages. Don’t let your site miss the mark on all these critical website accessibility standards. Contact our Atlanta web designers at Viridian Geeks by calling 470-440-3434 or emailing [email protected] to get started!