In the offline world, everywhere you will see examples of how governments, businesses, organisations, and society as a whole have tried to make it easier for those with disabilities and assistive needs to live their lives as normally as possible, albeit there is a lot more that could be done.
When we look at this same point in the online world, and in particular at web design, we are certain that many people would struggle to think about how any aspect of a website’s design would make it more accessible. We say not to be critical, but to suggest there need to be greater understanding and enlightenment concerning making the internet a more accessible environment for everyone, especially those with disabilities.
Thankfully, the level of understanding is increasing, and today there are many principles of web design used specifically to make the websites being created more accessible. The caveat here is that people have disabilities that affect them all in different ways so there may not always be a perfect solution.
Difficulties can include neurological, physical, vocal, auditory, visual and cognitive disabilities, and the fact that the offline world cannot cover every scenario in every location, then frustrating as it is, unfortunately, neither can the online world. But we can at least make every effort, so here are 5 web design principles that can make any new website or website redesign more accessible for everyone.
#1 – Use ALT TEXT In Images
When any web page is opened there can be problems with its load speed which prevents images from loading. If you use ALT TEXT, that text will appear so at least anyone looking at the page knows what the image is about. ALT TEXT also provides a means for a helper to read the description within the ALT TEXT of the images which appear to someone who is blind or partially sighted.
#2 – Create Keyboard-Friendly Web Designs
A keyboard friendly website design allows visitors to navigate each page and throughout the site without having to use a mouse. This can be especially helpful for those using additional assistive technology which is often based on keyword-only use.
#3 – Use Content Headers Effectively
The way you structure your content within your web design can make it more accessible not just for those with visual impairments, but also makes it easier to follow and understand for everyone. One simple way is with the effective use of headings throughout each piece of content. Assistive technologies such as screen readers use headings to assist with navigating web pages.
#4 – Use Resizable Text
What we are talking about here is not simply being able to zoom in using the control on your browser as that simply enlarges the entire page. Instead, it is possible to create a web design that specifically allows the text size on its pages to be increased which helps those with visual impairments. If text resizing is not enabled any attempt to increase its size on a browser could cause issues with the structure and proportions of the page.
#5 – Ensure Your Content Is Accessible To All
This is a means of making your content accessible to everyone and is often overlooked. When designing websites, and in particular creating content, the creator often forgets that no everyone has the same knowledge and experience as they do. As a result, they use terminology, jargon, abbreviations and acronyms which might be everyday language to them, but instead confuses visitors to their website.
Wherever you can, make the vocabulary used in your content as simple as possible, and if you do use abbreviations or acronyms, at least prove an explanation of them early in your content so that it is understood by everyone reading it.