Web Accessibility Guidelines: Best Practices for Your Website

How does increasing your website’s accessibility benefit your business?

Anyone who has previously attempted to design a website from scratch knows that it’s not as simple as throwing content onto a web page and letting the world enjoy it.

There are many factors to take into consideration, including what search engine optimization (SEO) techniques should be applied, how frequently the website should be updated and whether or not there needs to be an e-commerce element—not to mention all of the technical functions that are required for a website to function properly.

However, when building a website (whether for internal use or for marketing purposes), accessibility is often overlooked.

What is web accessibility?

Once thought of as a niche specialty, the concept of web accessibility has become increasingly important in recent years. The standards by which websites are judged to be accessible used to involve having alternative text for images, proper keyboard functionality, etc. However, the needs of users with disabilities have evolved over time.

Nowadays, it’s not enough to view a website on a mobile device. Users also need to be able to navigate the website easily, regardless of whether or not they are using assistive technology (like screen readers or keyboard-only interfaces).
According to the Web Accessibility Initiative:

Web Accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the Web. The goal of Web Accessibility is to make it possible for all individuals on the planet to benefit equally from the Web (or at least as much as possible).

There are many disabilities that people can have that can impact how they experience the internet. Some common ones are:

  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing loss or deafness
  • Mobility limitations (including temporary issues like a broken arm or permanent ones like paralysis)

 

Following rules and best practices to make sure your website is accessible for all is vital, whether users have disabilities or not.

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Why is web accessibility important?

Making your website more accessible benefits the user but also has key benefits for companies. According to the World Economic Forum, “companies that embrace inclusive design outperform their peers financially.”

This is because web accessibility opens up an entire market of consumers who would otherwise be excluded from any web-based interactions, thus depriving your business of potential customers.

Here is why web accessibility is important in business:

  • Increased viewership. People with disabilities will be able to find and use your website just like anyone else.
  • Better search engine rankings. Again, people with disabilities will be able to find and use your website just like anyone else.
  • Trust of your users. They know that when it’s time to buy from you, there is a greater chance they will have no problems completing the purchase.
  • More distinct audiences. People with disabilities, their family members and friends, and even people looking to hire talent with disabilities.

What are the consequences of failing to make your website accessible for all?

People with disabilities either leave and/or find another website to buy from. What’s more, your rankings may take a hit as a result since search engines are increasingly using accessibility and mobile responsiveness as ranking factors.

Lastly, governments are considering fining companies who don’t make their website accessible as a form of discrimination that keeps them from competing fairly in the market.

Web accessibility guidelines

Does your website follow these guidelines?

  • Create an easy way for website visitors to contact you with any questions or issues they may have with the web design (i.e., contact form, chatbox, etc.).
  • Ensure that meaningful images include “alternative text” that describes the image.
  • Use headings and links to give website visitors an easy way to navigate your site.
  • Ensure all information is available in a format for people with disabilities, such as text (.txt) or speech (.mp3).
  • Always include the option of scrolling rather than requiring clicking to view all of the website content.
  • Add captions to any videos on your site.
  • Ensure that all of your media files are in a format that everyone can play, including Flash for video and audio files, JPG/JPEG for images, etc.

There are other standards that should also be considered when it comes to accessibility in web design, such as making sure that all content is available without a mouse by using keyboard shortcuts.

The primary standard for web accessibility applies to websites viewed on a mobile device, whereas the secondary standard addresses issues with browser compatibility that may arise when designing a website. There are also language-specific standards from the W3C, so it’s important to keep up with these changes when making design decisions for all audiences.

Need help making your website more accessible? Our team at Brown Bag is here to help! Reach out today so we can get started.