10 simple tips to improve website accessibility
The internet, today, is our primary source of information, entertainment, and communication. It holds true for everyone, irrespective of their socio-cultural, economic and educational backgrounds.
Yet, there are still some groups of people who are often not considered when it comes to designing websites. And these are people with visual, motor, speech, or cognitive impairments. A study by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) found that 1 billion people worldwide have some form of disability.
A probable reason behind this could be that people with disabilities form a small part of a website’s audience. And thus, accessibility guidelines might not be a priority for everyone.
However, it is important to note that accessibility guidelines don’t just help people with disabilities but all users. Think of real-world analogies like moving ramp escalators in malls and subtitles in movies.
10 accessibility guidelines for digital interfaces
Until a few years ago, designing for accessibility meant spending too much time and effort while also compromising on the UI of the website. But that’s not the case anymore.
With advancements in design and tech, creating engaging and accessibility guidelines compliant interfaces has become easy.
In this blog, we elaborate on W3C’s 10 accessibility guidelines for UX designers.
1. Background and foreground should be in contrast
People with low vision, colour blindness, or worsening vision have a tough time reading text on a website if there is not enough contrast.
Thus, a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 is recommended to enable people with visibility issues to read effortlessly off the screen.
This ratio obviously become more flexible with larger and heavier fonts since they are easier to read in general.
And although a small change, this can have a huge impact on your web accessibility.
2. Information should not be conveyed solely through colours
If you want to convey something important, make sure you don’t rely solely on one mode of communication – such as colours.
By using only colour, the message is lost on people with visual impairments, such as colour blindness.
You can overcome this problem by using icons, text labels, or patterns along with colours.
Using asterisks for mandatory fields is a great example that when implemented can improve the web accessibility of your website.
3. Make sure each interactive element is easily identifiable
On the website, there are different types of elements. Some of those are clickable and some are not.
It is therefore important to style clickable elements differently so that people can easily identify them.
A popular method of making clickable elements stand out is to highlight and underline them or draw a border around them.
4. Consistent and clear navigation is essential
Regardless of how good a website is, if it’s hard to navigate, most of it will remain undiscovered and lead to a high drop-off rate.
So, when designing a website, ensure consistent naming, styling, and positioning to enhance web accessibility.
Provide users with more than one way to navigate your website, and include enough clues on each page to help them identify where they are on the site.
5. Label form elements clearly
Websites and landing pages are incomplete without forms. They serve a great purpose as a mode of communication between the website and the user. You must consider labelling the form elements correctly. This helps your users fill out forms hassle-free and without much confusion. Mind the law of proximity when labelling forms to improve the web accessibility of your forms. The law states that elements that are close together are perceived as one unit.
6. Communicate feedback clearly
Every time there’s a feedback on the website that informs a user before submitting a form, or requires the user to rectify a mistake, or notifies them of the changes on the page, prominently display it using colours, icons and highlights.
A great example is when you input an invalid email id on the Gmail website, it gives you an error message that includes red-coloured text which clearly informs you of the issue and an icon beside it. This makes it hard for anyone to miss noticing it.
7. Utilise white space appropriately
White space is a simple and effective tool that if utilised correctly can transform your designs.
Using it correctly to ideally group relevant content can help you improve the readability of your website by making it easy to scan and providing a clutter-free experience. Thus enhancing web accessibility.
8. Design different layouts for different viewport sizes
Given the number of options available to explore the internet, different people would land on your site from different devices, like desktops, mobiles or tablets. Considering this, it is pivotal to ensure that you make the best use of the screen sizes.
Also take care that the text size and line width are optimized for readability and legibility.
9. Consider alternative image and media options in your design
Design websites as such that they include alternative media links to audio transcripts, text along with icons, descriptions for tables or complex graphs. Doing this will eliminate any accessibility issues and enable everyone to consume your valuable content.
10. Provide controls for Autoplaying content
Most modern web browsers support the content Autoplay feature. As the name suggests, this enables audio and video elements to start playing automatically when a webpage loads.
Although a great feature in itself, it can get distracting or frustrating to people with slower cognitive abilities.
Thus, providing visible controls to allow users to stop any animations or auto-playing audio or video content helps a lot.
This also applies to carousels, image sliders, background sound, and videos.
If you’ve read until this point, you might have realised that creating designs in sync with the accessibility guidelines can be quite a tedious task.
However, web accessibility also comes with its fair share of rewards like ranking well on search engines, increasing audience reach, gaining a competitive edge, improved site usability, and also, avoiding potential discrimination lawsuits.
If you’ve failed to ensure web accessibility so far, or if you are looking to design a new website with optimal usability, we’d be more than happy to assist you in the task.
You can reach out to us by filling the contact form below.