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10 Ways you can make your web design more accessible

website users trying website accessibility inspired by The Blind Men and the Elephant
Web accessibility must be a design priority

My old laptop’s number “9” key was broken. Like most busy, penny-pinching computer users, I put off replacing it because it’s only one key

When I needed the number “9,” I Googled “nine” and copied and pasted it into my documents.

It was bearable until I had to submit a digital ads data report for the entire year one day. I copied and pasted “9” into my report over a hundred times that day, cursing myself for not buying a new keyboard sooner.

My inability to use a single key on a keyboard was a temporary drawback. With a brand new tool, this case was simple and easy to solve. 

But what about the other computer users who have hearing impairments, visual challenges, or injured limbs and need to use the computer but are unable to?

Approximately a quarter of Americans with disabilities (26%) state that they have home high-speed internet, a smartphone, a desktop or laptop computer, and a tablet. Disability status influences whether or not someone goes online.

This is why it is critical to make apps, tools, and websites with accessibility in mind. If you value all types of web users, your design, content, and code must be accessible. People with disabilities cannot and should not be ignored.

Web accessibility defined

Web accessibility refers to the design and development of websites, tools, and technologies so that people with disabilities can use them. 

According to the Web Accessibility Initiative, web accessibility includes all disabilities that affect web access, such as:

  • auditory
  • cognitive
  • neurological
  • physical
  • speech
  • visual

Folks without disabilities benefit from web accessibility as well, for example:

  • People who use mobile phones, smart watches, smart TVs, and other devices with small screens, various input modes, and so on
  • Older people whose abilities change as they age
  • Individuals with “temporary disabilities,” such as a broken arm or misplaced glasses
  • People with “situational limitations,” such as those who cannot listen to audio in bright sunlight or in an environment where they cannot listen to audio

Making your website accessible

Many aspects of accessibility are simple to understand and implement. However, some accessibility solutions are more complicated and require more expertise to implement.

Either way, it’s most efficient and effective to incorporate accessibility from the start of web design projects so that you do not have to go back and redo work.

There are 3 website components you can make accessible. These are design, code, and content. For this article, which is inspired by the Web Accessibility Initiative, I will share 10 ways you can make your web design more accessible.

#1 Ensure adequate contrast between foreground and background

The contrast between the colours in the foreground and background must be sufficient. Text on images, gradient backgrounds, buttons, and other elements are all examples of this. This excludes logos and incidental text, such as text found in a photograph.

web design accessibility tips

#2 Don’t rely solely on colour to convey information

Colour can be used to convey information, but it should not be the only way. Provide additional identification that is not dependent on colour perception when using colour to distinguish elements.

For example, in addition to colour, you can use an asterisk to indicate required form fields and labels to differentiate areas on graphs.

web design accessibility tips
web design accessibility tips

#3 Highlight interactive elements

To make interactive elements, such as links and buttons, easier to identify, use distinct styles. Change the appearance of links on mouse hover, keyboard focus, and touch-screen activation, for example.

Furthermore, the styles and naming of interactive elements must be consistent across the website.

web design accessibility tips

#4 Provide clear and consistent navigation options

A website’s navigation across pages must be consistent in terms of style, name, and position. You can also provide more than one method of website navigation, such as a site search or a site map.

Provide orientation cues such as breadcrumbs and clear headings to help users understand where they are on a website or page.

#5 Form elements must have labels

Ensure that each field has a descriptive label next to it. Labels in left-to-right languages are typically positioned to the left or above the field, with the exception of checkboxes and radio buttons, which are typically positioned to the right.

Make sure there isn’t too much space between labels and fields.

web design accessibility tips

#6 Provide easily identifiable feedback

Provide feedback for interactions such as confirming form submission, alerting the user when something goes wrong, or informing the user of page changes. 

Users require immediate feedback; otherwise, they will believe that something is wrong with the website.

Instructions should be easily identifiable. Important feedback that requires user action should be presented prominently.

web design accessibility tips

#7 Use design to group related content

Use negative space and proximity to highlight content relationships. Headings can be used to organize content, reduce clutter, and make it easier to scan and understand.

web design accessibility tips

#8 Create designs for different screen sizes

Consider how different screen sizes, such as mobile phones or zoomed browser windows, display page information.

The position and presentation of main elements such as the header and navigation can be changed to make the best use of the space. The text size and line width should be optimized for readability and legibility.

web design accessibility tips

#9 Include image and media alternatives

I appreciate captioned videos. It allows me to “watch” a video and understand its content even when I’m in a noisy environment or have to mute the video to avoid disturbing others. This is an example of an accessible media alternative.

Aside from captions, you can incorporate alternate images and media into your design. For example, you may require:

  • Visible links to transcripts of audio
  • Visible links to audio-described versions of videos
  • Text along with icons and graphical buttons
  • Captions and descriptions for tables or complex graphs

You might think that the redundancy will ruin the design. This will not be an issue if you work with an on-demand design service that has a large number of web design clients. This can be seamlessly incorporated into your web design by an experienced designer.

#10 Provide controls for content that starts automatically

Allow users to stop any animations or auto-playing sound with visible controls. This holds true for carousels, image sliders, background music, and videos.

Website accessibility is good brand karma

A website can be the most valuable asset for any company. Depending on the type of site you have, it can be a critical factor in helping you with your company’s marketing and sales, as well as your search engine rankings.

As a result, it is crucial that you check the accessibility of your site. The last thing you want is to be at the top of Google search results, but when a person with a disability visits your website, all they can do is read the page title.