Most of us take for granted the ease of use when it comes to browsing the web. For many of us, we don’t have to make amendments to the way we find information and navigate websites, but for the 1billion+ people worldwide living with some form of disability, access to information isn’t always so straight forward.
Accessibility awareness has risen in recent years and as a result, more and more brands operating online have made changes to their site to make the browsing experience accessible to everyone. However, there’s still loads of room for improvements. With more than 59million distinct accessibility errors, detected by Google through research, across 1million home pages, this amounts to approximately 60 errors per page.
It’s important to remember that a disability, which will affect your ability to use the internet to its full effect, does not begin and end with vision, hearing, movement or cognitive impairments. User needs are far more complex, and it would be naive to limit the usability to only cater to these disabilities.
The diversity of the user base is so extensive now that accessibility optimisation needs to understand every limitation which is currently affecting people around the world. Designing for accessibility needs to grow and evolve, which ultimately results in better user experience for everyone.
One of the common issues with websites is low contrast, which for people with visual impairments, can cause an accessibility issue. Ensuring your site has sufficient colour contrast, will make viewing easier, especially for mobile users whilst on the go.
You should ensure that your site layout is clear and concise. It might look nice to make menu items small in size, however, for people with visual impairments this can quickly drive them away from your site or make it completely unusable.
Enhancing the appearance of your copy, by increasing the size of the font on your site, as well as ensuring that colours can be seen easily by those with visual impairments including the likes of colour blindness, is important for overall accessibility.
Facilitate language barriers
Presuming that everyone has the same level of reading abilities is both unfair and can result in confusion. It’s important to be simplistic with language when creating the key elements of your site, including who you are and how to contact you.
Plain language over specialised terminology may seem counterproductive if you work in an industry which relies heavily on this, but it’s important to simplify it to ensure that everyone can understand what it is that you do, regardless of reading level or level of understanding of the English language.
Furthermore, headers and shorter paragraphs can help users determine content hierarchy on a page, for improved ease of use. This also has significant SEO benefits, by making it clear to a search engine what the key topics of the page are.
Streamline data entry
Dexterity can be a barrier to utilising the web to its full potential. Particularly where data entry is concerned, it’s vital to reduce the overall effort of inputting information on the users part. Alongside the ability to import auto-fill information, sites should consider including the likes of a number pad or expanded options to choose from, where possible.
The benefits of this type of streamlining capability are felt across all users, in fact, it can make people more likely to complete their purchase when their information is more easily inputted. Alongside this, as voice recognition becomes more advanced, inputting via speech will be more commonly rolled out across all websites, so ensure that your site is optimised and ready for this functionality.
Expedite load speeds
When considering how you will design and create your site, you should be aware of load speed. Of course, slow load speeds can affect your search capabilities but they also impair the user experience.
Accessing your websites data should be at the core of your user experience process. So, it might mean that you can’t display loads of high res images or video on your home page, but you can find ways around, either through changing the design or compressing assets.
With mobile more prevalent than desktop in most areas of the world, it’s important to ensure you have optimised and built your site with load speed in mind, ensuring accessibility to everyone.
Ensuring your site is compatible with assistive technology, such as screen readers, hearing aids and magnification applications, allows full user capabilities to those with disabilities attempting to access your site.
You should consider increasing the tappable areas of buttons to make them more easily reached and interactable and design inline with thumb reach research, considering different designs of mobile phone.
Additionally, keyboard shortcut navigation should be fully implemented to ensure that those who cannot use a mouse are able to receive a good experience on your site, regardless.
How do I find out how to improve my site?
You can use sites such as web.dev which will run a basic accessibility audit, score your site and offer insights into best practices and recommendations for improvement. Alternatively, get in touch with us today for a free website audit where we will identify any areas of your website which could be jeopardising usability and accessibility.
Also published on Medium.