A great time to think about how to improve your website accessibility is, well, yesterday. If your website is hard to understand or navigate for folks living with disabilities, millions of people who may be in your audience could get left out–and leave your website entirely.
Still, with this July being the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, now is a good time to think about website accessibility, too. Some accessibility issues can get pretty technical, but there are some simpler ways to improve website accessibility that will help other folks in your audience, too.
Headings can improve your website accessibility.
Using headings throughout your website is just good practice, especially if you have a longer piece of content. Larger and more visually interesting headings help break up content visually for everyone, whether they have a disability or not.
If you’re using a website builder, making the text “look nice” isn’t enough for website accessibility. If you see text options in your builder such as Heading 1, Heading 2, etc., you want to use them! Those Heading options correspond to their own special tags in the website code, so assistive technologies can recognize them as headings, making it much easier for folks to move through your website.
An added bonus of using headings properly: they can also help your search engine rankings! Using key search terms in heading tags is great for SEO.
Use descriptive link text.
“Click here” is a frequently used phrase for links on websites, and I’m here to tell you: that is precisely what NOT to do for website accessibility.
People who rely on screen readers to navigate your website won’t know what the purpose of the link is or where it will take them, if you just use “click here” for your link text.
Instead, be descriptive with the link text you choose. For example, you can let folks know that they’re about to learn more about web design services. For buttons, you can keep it shorter but still give a clue about what will happen when they click, like saying Book a Consultation on a button that leads to your bookings calendar.
Check your color contrast.
Colors aren’t just for making your website look engaging and pretty–they also help your audience easily distinguish different pieces of content! However, when folks in your audience have color blindness, or even just have trouble reading dark text on a darker background, you can lose their attention pretty quickly.
This is why it’s important to choose colors carefully. If you’re working with a good web designer, then they’re hopefully checking for color contrast already! If you aren’t, there are some tools that can help, such as this color contrast checker, or even a Chrome add-on that lets you see like someone who’s color blind.
Use Alt tags on your images.
Something we’ve definitely noticed in web design trends is a reliance on photos and graphics. And hey, I get it. They’re eye-catching and inviting when done right!
Unfortunately, screen readers can’t interpret photos and graphics used on your website. (sad trombone) That’s where Alt Text comes in! In short, alt-text describes the photo that a screen reader sees when it’s on your website. That way, folks with vision impairments can at least understand what’s in the image, even if they can’t see it.
And, just as with headings, using Alt tags on your images can also boost your SEO, so it’s definitely worth doing. Just look for an area in your website builder (such as WordPress) for a place to type in the short description of your photo.
This post isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to improve website accessibility, but I hope I’ve given you a few ways to help make sure your website is inviting in all of the people who are looking for you. To learn more about website accessibility, take a peek at ADA Site Compliance’s 20 Ways To Improve Web Accessibility. If you’re looking for help from a website pro, give us a shout.