Accessible web content: small changes make a big impact

I design and develop websites, but will also suggest content or text changes as I work and clients tend to appreciate that I’m looking out for them and their users.

Sometimes the changes seem small but the justUXdesign.com article 6 tips for creating more accessible web content highlights reasons with examples for improvement. The tips are geared to users of alternate browsers (like screen readers) but they’re good ideas for everyone.

Titles

It’s tempting to get cute with page titles and headings. But titles should describe the content on the page; subtitles can have can have the attention grabber. Clear titles not only help the reader quickly figure out if this page has what they’re looking for, it helps make sure search engines know what’s in your site.

Break content into sections

Chunking content is breaking up the text so it’s easy to read. Think of a worst-case scenario: a reader using a small phone screen in a poorly lit train car, sometimes interrupted by announcements. Make it easy to skim and the user will be happier.

Descriptive links

“Click here” drives me batty, especially on a button, and I will always change this to be descriptive. This is different from “Read more” which tends to follow a headline or summary and ideally not the only link.

Sensory dependencies

This generally means making sure content is accessible for physical needs. But a site that has good contrast for the color blind is better for poor lighting reading; not forcing a video or sound is good for quiet situations; and not referring to an area (like “see form to the right”) takes responsive design layout into account.

Alternatives for media

Some people don’t like videos (like me), so captions or transcripts are helpful. Images won’t show if a user has turned them off while using slow internet, so alt tags help them understand what is missing.

Don’t use images in text

This should have stopped being a thing a long time ago. There is no good reason to make content text an image on a web site—and unforgivable to use images for navigation. CSS is powerful and can handle all sorts of interesting layouts. Emails are the one place css can’t fix everything so it’s best to use a simple design that isn’t dependent on images to be read. Yes, I know stores send out fancy emails with images but are YOUR readers expecting that?

 

I’m not an accessibility expert. The 6 tips for creating more accessible web content article by justUXdesign.com is short and has links to the WCAG accessibility criteria.