Tips for Web Design Accessibility
Published: September 2020
Web Design Tips For Accessibility
Accessibility is a non-negotiable part of web design in 2020. When you are designing a website, it’s vital to recognise that not all visitors will use your website in the same way.
In fact, over a billion people worldwide live with some form of disability – this accounts for around 15% of the global population. So, if your web design is not accessible, you may be alienating many of your visitors and even future customers.
What is accessibility in web design?
When it comes to web design, your website must be accessible to as many people as possible. Achieving website accessibility is not difficult, it is just a matter of becoming educated about how to implement these structures that will improve your online presence for all users.
Web Design accessibility is vital for so many different types of users, but the UK government puts particular focus on how to create accessible digital products for those with poor vision, hearing impairments, physical or motor disability, dyslexia and for people on the autistic spectrum. Of course, we recognise that this is not an exhaustive list of every condition that benefits from accessible web design, but by meeting the expectations of these users, you will be well on your way to achieving web accessibility.
Along with identifying these key individuals and their needs, the UK government has also put a strict deadline on public sector websites and apps to confirm to their Accessibility Standards. Public sector websites must be compliant by 23rd September 2020, and their apps must meet regulations by 23 June 2021.
So, now we’ve explored the importance of accessibility in web design, here are some tips for ensuring your website is accessible to all.
Build your pages with all users in mind
When you are working with a web designer, they should consider accessibility from the outset. This may affect the way the pages are structured, the content they display and even the basic design elements. Don’t worry if your website is already built, there is still plenty you can do to maximise accessibility.
Do all of your pages have title tags? And does the page title accurately describe what the page is about? The page title is paramount for those visiting your website from a screenreader – so is alt text, which is what screen readers will read aloud in place of images. Adding alt text to every image is super simple and it can also have SEO benefits.
It’s not just screen readers that your web design should accommodate for, we also recommend implementing tab browsing, so users can hop from one link to another with the “TAB” key (and without the need for a mouse).
With a remit of accessibility being paramount, we created an accessible friendly website for Information Now. A prestigious information and advice website for older people in the North East. Read more about the Information now website.
Consider your colour scheme
Is your brand design accessible? How easy-to-read is your font? And do you mix up colours or do you keep things simple? Colour scheme is a very important consideration for accessible web design. In fact, some colour combinations can be difficult to see for people with low vision or for those on the autistic spectrum.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great resources out there to help you create an accessible colour scheme for your brand. For example, WebAIM has a fantastic free tool so you can better understand which colours are the most accessible for as many users as possible.
It seems like UX (user experience) is the phrase on every web designer’s lips right now and accessibility should be at the forefront of this conversation. What does accessibility in UX look like? Well, UX designers and writers are typically very strong at creating well-researched processes and systems, so they are the ideal stakeholders to champion your accessibility standards.
The UX team will also take the lead on your navigation structure as it informs how users will move around your website. They take into account device responsivity, easy-of-navigation and consistent content design.
Speaking of content, clear and concise language is necessary for accessible web design. It’s not just about the words you use, although that is a vital part. You should also consider the layout of your content: can a dense paragraph be better displayed as bullet points? Do you have one clear and defined action you want your visitor to take? And how simple is it for them to understand?
When it comes to deciding if your content is suitable for your audience or whether your brand identity is accessible, testing is key. Your web development team will already have a testing procedure in place to ensure your website is functional and responsive – don’t be afraid to ask them if accessibility is considered as a part of this. Any web designer worth their salt will want to prioritise accessibility on any project, that’s for sure.