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Guides & Advice

Website accessibility guidelines

By Emily Waddecar / August 27th 2019

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Did you know: 70% of UK websites are inaccessible?

As a business, I’m sure you want your products and services to reach as many potential customers as possible?

Well, your website shouldn’t be any different. People have varied levels of ability, special requirements and considerations to keep in mind when using your website. Accessibility is massively important. It helps to ensure as many people as possible are able to get as much information as possible from the internet.

Did you know: Disability affects one in five people in the UK alone? … That’s 12.9m people!

So, baring this in mind, what should you be aware of when considering accessibility?

Example of the accessibility issues facing websites

Helping as many people as possible

Let’s take a look at the most common disabilities and picture the challenges each brings to the user while browsing online:

  • Sight loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Colour blindness
  • Physical impairments
  • Dyslexia

As mentioned, these are just some of the conditions that can impede someone’s ability to use a website properly. According to information from the World Bank, over 1 billion people, or 15% of the global population, suffer from some form of disability.

For any business, this is a huge number of people that have significant barriers which stop them from effectively using their website. This can stop people accessing information, products and services that should be available to them.

No business can afford to neglect such a large number of people. This is why meeting even the most basic accessibility standards, or taking small steps towards improving your accessibility, is crucial.

TIP: Put yourself in the user’s shoes – Attempt to browse your website, while considering each disability, and feel the frustrations first hand.

For some businesses and charities, especially those dealing with specific conditions, there will be a clear focus on accessibility from the outset. For example, charities that support people with dyslexia will take the steps necessary to make their site as functional as possible.

Thankfully, making a website more accessible isn’t always a huge undertaking, and a number of accessibility ‘quick wins’ have become standard parts of website design and creation.

Quick wins to helping your website become more accessible

There are some key accessibility points which have become standard practice when working on websites, either from a user experience, design, content, or SEO perspective.

Alt tags, for example, provide descriptions of images. While having an SEO benefit, these images also provide descriptions for people with visual impairments. This means that screen readers – software that enables people with visual impairments to use a computer – can describe what is on screen to the user.

Assessing the level of contrast between background colours and buttons against text, allows you to see if users suffering from colour-blindness can still make out the navigation and calls to action on your website. There are online tools which you can use to double check this level of contrast to ensure your site isn’t going to cause users problems.

Example of differing colour contrasts

TIP: If you are working with a brand specialist, be sure to let them know that the colours used MUST be accessible online.

Getting this wrong can make navigation, and even just the general readability of your site, more difficult than it needs to be.

The same applies to the style of font you use. Certain serif fonts and italicised formatting can make reading content so much more difficult for dyslexic users. In some cases, these patterns and styles will appear blurred, making understanding the content on your site impossible.

TIP: Don’t overlook blog pages! These can, in most cases, be the worst culprit for accessibility issues, so consider the size of your copy and the spacing in-between the lines.

Example of how text looks to dyslexic users

 

These are all simple fixes that should be considered and incorporated early on in a site design. However, there are also long-term accessibility projects to consider, which take more time to incorporate into a site.

 

Long-term accessibility goals

Achieving complete accessibility on your website isn’t something that will happen overnight.

This is an ongoing process that will see periodic changes and improvements to your website, either in terms of how it is designed or changes to the actual coding and development. A long-term approach allows you to be reactive to research and the changes and developments within technology, designed to help people with disabilities.

Being reactive allows you to incorporate new technology, from new screen reading software to ways of controlling and interacting with websites, which will require specific development work to implement within a site. Or it might allow you to amend a website’s design or user experience in order to implement new methods of making a site easier to interact with. From changes to fonts to improve readability, to tweaking colours and patterns on your site, you can make everything more legible and understandable for all users.

There are different severities of disability. From permanent conditions such as deafness and blindness, to temporary issues such as conditions which flare up periodically or recovering from injuries that hinder your ability to use a computer the way you normally do.

Providing a website that is completely accessible to everyone is difficult. However, making sure you cover as many issues as possible and having a plan to assess, rework and improve your long-term accessibility, is something you should keep in mind.

TIP: Do your research! Most website agencies don’t consider accessibility guidelines when creating websites. We aim to have this conversation with all our prospective and current clients.

Colour blindness chart

How can we help you make your website more accessible?

Understanding the issues facing your website users, and taking the steps to help them more effectively interact with your site, should be standard behaviour.

Keeping accessibility for different groups in mind when you design and build a website can be a daunting task. This is why it is so important to start trying to incorporate your different accessibility considerations into your design as early as possible.

At every1, providing services in UX to give users the best experience of a site is one part of what we do. We’d love to explore how our web design team could deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 0845 322 8789 or get in touch to find out more.