Open your website to everyone

The web is worldwide, reaching the far reaches of humanity. But just because your website is out there in the big wide world, can everyone use it? Sure, anyone with access to the internet can open up a web browser and navigate to your site, but can they get the information they need?

Here we take a look at what you need to consider for those users who may have impairments or disabilities. These include visual impairments, both full and partial blindness as well as colour blindness, motor or physical disabilities, and then there are other more hidden things such as autism and dyslexia.

Living with some of the above can be hard and life is only made harder when websites aren’t easy to read, understand or navigate, so here are a few tips that can be applied to any website so you don’t end up alienating users.

Find the right words

Keeping language on brand to your business is important, but choosing the right words is important to keep your customers engaged. Figures of speech for example might put off people on the autistic spectrum and those with dyslexia.

Choosing the right font is crucial for any design to work but bear in mind your target audience and how easy to read that font becomes. People with vision impairments, or those living with dyslexia, will find more elaborate fonts harder to read and decipher.

The same goes for colours of fonts and their backgrounds. Good contrast, eg. black words on a white background, will make reading much easier for users. Whereas white font on a coloured background will make the font harder to read for the best of eyes, let alone anyone else.

Putting things in the right place

The layout of your website can have a large impact on a users opinion of it. A busy layout will be confusing for the most able bodied and tech savvy users, so consider those who have trouble picking out the relevant information and those who use screen readers.

A screen reader is a bit of software that reads a website out loud. If the website has many components on a page and the code behind the page is not up to scratch then the user will be read a whole website of links, content blocks and adverts etc before getting to the article they were there to read or being given information about the product they are trying to purchase. All this results in unnecessary noise and frustration for the user.

Similarly making sure that images on the page are described. A screen reader has the ability to pick up text associated with an image to be able to describe the image to the user. This means that you shouldn’t rely solely on images for your website content but any images you do include should be well described to the user.

Beyond the website

One other key point that many businesses forget is that eventually a user might want to contact the company with a question, or wanting to buy the product or service on offer. Allow the user to choose a preferred method of contact from multiple options, email, phone, in person etc. Many users have a preferred option and only offering one method of communication is potentially excluding a lot of users.

The UK Home Office have produced a series of helpful reference guides pointing out what you need to be aware of when running a website for different groups of users. Take a look at the accessibility guidelines and see how your website measures up.

Put yourself in your users shoes and take a look around your website. If you find any problems then get in touch with us to help you adapt your website to include everyone.

Published: 24th Jan 2018

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