Designing Accessible Websites

  • Curtis Harrison
  • 13 Nov 2023

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.

What is Web Accessibility, and Why Does It Matter?

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:

  1. Inclusivity: Ensuring your website is accessible to the widest possible audience demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and creates a more positive user experience for all.
  2. Legal Compliance: Many countries have laws requiring websites to meet specific accessibility standards. Adhering to these standards can help businesses avoid potential legal issues.
  3. SEO Benefits: Accessible websites often include features that improve search engine optimisation (SEO), such as clear site structures, descriptive tags, and textual alternatives for media. Improved SEO rankings can lead to higher website traffic and increased visibility.
  4. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: A website that is easy to navigate and caters to the needs of all users can lead to higher customer satisfaction, fostering loyalty and positive brand associations.

The Moral, Social, and Legal Imperatives for Embracing Web Accessibility

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.

  1. Moral Imperative: Ensuring that all users can access and enjoy a website's content reflects a commitment to equal access, fairness, and inclusivity. It demonstrates that a business recognises the importance of creating an online experience that caters to the diverse needs and abilities of its users.
  2. Social Imperative: As more daily activities shift online, from shopping to banking, education, and beyond, the social responsibility of businesses to address accessibility issues also grows. By committing to web accessibility, businesses can ensure they do not inadvertently exclude or discriminate against individuals with disabilities, promoting more equitable access to online resources and services.
  3. Legal Imperative: Around the world, a growing number of laws and regulations mandate web accessibility compliance, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States and the European Union's Web Accessibility Directive. In Australia, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 carries similar requirements, rendering non-compliant businesses vulnerable to legal action. Adhering to accessibility standards is vital for avoiding potential enforcement, litigation, and reputational damage.

Practical Steps to Incorporate Accessibility Best Practices in Web Design

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.

How Real Social Can Help You Design Accessible Websites

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.