Discover the importance of designing accessible websites and learn practical steps to ensure your website adheres to accessibility standards for an inclusive online experience.
In today's digital landscape, an inclusive online presence has become more critical than ever. As businesses and organisations increasingly rely on the internet to provide services, disseminate information, and engage with their communities, ensuring that websites are accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities or limitations, should be a top priority. Designing accessible websites not only benefits end-users but can also lead to increased customer satisfaction, improved search engine rankings, and even reduced legal risk.
In this in-depth blog post, we will introduce you to the concept of web accessibility and the best practices that can help businesses achieve it. Drawing from Real Social's substantial expertise in web design, accessibility, and digital strategy, we aim to provide an informative and helpful resource for business owners, web designers, marketers, and website managers looking for actionable steps to create inclusive and accessible online experiences.
We will explore the moral, social, and legal imperatives for embracing web accessibility, equipping you with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions around designing websites that cater to users with specific needs. Furthermore, we will present practical steps that can help you incorporate accessibility best practices into your web design process for more inclusive, usable, and engaging websites.
Web accessibility refers to designing websites that are inclusive and usable by everyone, including individuals with disabilities or specific needs. By creating websites taking accessibility into consideration, businesses can ensure that users with impaired vision, hearing, motor skills, or cognitive abilities can fully interact with, understand, and navigate their online content. Embracing web accessibility is essential for the following reasons:
Embracing web accessibility is not merely a gesture of goodwill or a box-ticking exercise for businesses; it has moral, social, and legal implications that demand attention and action.
Designing an accessible website may seem daunting, but these practical steps can help businesses incorporate accessibility best practices in their web design process:
- Perform a Website Accessibility Audit
Begin by evaluating your existing website for any accessibility issues using tools such as axe, Wave, or Siteimprove. Identify problem areas and put together a plan to address these issues systematically.
- Understand and Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
Familiarise yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the internationally recognised framework for web accessibility. Following these guidelines can help ensure your website meets the necessary accessibility standards.
- Optimise Website Structure and Navigation
Structuring your website using semantic markup with HTML5 header, main, nav, and footer elements increases its compatibility with assistive technologies such as screen readers. Additionally, provide clear, concise navigation menus and links, along with a logical progression of headings to help users find information quickly and easily.
- Use Accessible Typography and Colour Contrast
Choose typography and colours that provide ample contrast and are easy to read. For users with visual impairments, including colour blindness, using high contrast colour combinations can improve legibility. Additionally, use typography that is easy to read, ideally at least 16 pixels or larger, with the ability for users to adjust font size if necessary.
- Ensure Keyboard Accessibility and Mobile Responsiveness
Ensure that your website is accessible using only a keyboard, catering to users who cannot rely on a mouse or touchscreen for navigation. Incorporate responsive design to enable accessibility and usability on various devices, particularly mobile devices.
- Implement Accessible Multimedia
Include transcripts, captions, and audio descriptions for multimedia content like videos and podcasts. Use descriptive alternative (alt) text for images, enabling screen reader users to understand visual content.
- Test Regularly and Maintain Compliance
Regularly test your website to ensure it remains accessible as updates and changes occur. Test with various assistive technologies, such as screen readers, and solicit feedback from users with different abilities to improve your website's accessibility.
Real Social's team of web design and accessibility experts are dedicated to helping you create an inclusive online presence that adheres to accessibility standards. Our services span:
- Accessibility audits and consulting
- Solution implementation and remediating existing websites
- Training and education on accessibility best practices
- Ongoing support for maintaining accessibility compliance
Designing accessible websites is crucial for businesses seeking to provide an inclusive, user-friendly online experience while adhering to moral, social, and legal imperatives. By incorporating accessibility best practices into your web design process, you can create a website that caters to users with different needs, ultimately benefiting your customers and your bottom line.
With the help of Real Social, you can confidently navigate the path to designing and maintaining an accessible online presence, ensuring your website remains highly visible, inclusive, and competitive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.