Today we go behind the scenes with Elliot Olson, founder of Studio Anansi. Elliot is our lead website designer and web strategist. She ensures that all Studio Anansi website designs follow modern website best practices and standards.
Website accessibility is a popular topic nowadays — and for good reason.
In part, the rise in discussions of accessibility is due to an increasing number of web accessibility lawsuits over the past several years. While most websites probably aren’t in imminent danger of being sued, web professionals are paying attention — and deciding that it’s smart to be at the forefront of accessibility.
What is “web accessibility?”
Website accessibility is about making your website more accessible to visitors with impairments or limitations. For example, visitors with…
- Limited eyesight
- Color blindness
- Hearing impairments
- Conditions such as epilepsy
With accessibility, you can make your website easier to use for people. It’s worth putting time into finding proactive solutions now, rather than rushed future responses.
Why does web accessibility matter?
So many reasons!
Besides legalities, accessibility is about making the internet more available for a wider range of people. The internet is central to so much of modern life, from finding employment to connecting with friends and families. More access for more people = a good thing overall.
There are also practical reasons to make your website more accessible. When your website isn’t accessible, you miss out on communicating with visitors — aka potential customers.
Your links don’t matter if they look the same as regular text.
Your beautiful sales page isn’t going to convince someone who can’t read your fancy fonts.
Your carefully crafted video can’t make a case for deaf visitors if it lacks subtitles.
Making your website accessible is a good move both philosophically and from a marketing standpoint.
How to boost your website accessibility.
There are many ways to increase accessibility, ranging from easy fixes to complex overhauls. Below are a few ideas for you to get started.
Like many web designers, I have a love/hate relationship with popups.
On the one hand, they are highly effective — a good popup can convert 40% of viewers.
On the other hand, they’re annoying as hell.
Popups are also problems for accessibility. Crowded, confusing popups can be distracting for many people — and complete roadblocks for those with impairments.
If your website must have popups, keep them to a minimum in frequency and appearance.
Improve your website’s legibility by increasing font sizes to be readable on standard computer and phone screens.
Think about your text color and backgrounds. Light gray text on a white background looks modern and clean…but if your visitors can’t read your content because the gray is too light, then you’ve got a problem.
Add Alt Tags to Images
I’ve written before about the importance of alt tags for search engine optimization (SEO).
Quick refresher: Alt tags are the short descriptions of images on your site. For example, the image below may have the alt tag “Sunset in Miami, Florida.”
Image by Muzammil Soorma via Unsplash.
Alt tags tell visitors with visual impairments about an image. Any image on your website that is functional (rather than being just decorative) should have an alt tag.
Set Heading Title Tags
I’ve also written about title tags for SEO. Whatdja know, it’s kinda like good website strategy pays off across the board!
When you write content in website builders such as WordPress or Squarespace, you can set text to be paragraph text (normal stuff) or heading text. Headings range from H1 (the most important) down to H6 (the least important). Structure your content in descending order:
H1 – Webpage Title
H2 – Title of First Section
H3 – Subtitle of First Section
Install a Tool
Add a tool to your website to allow visitors to change content for their accessibility needs.
Many tools have options to increase/decrease font size, increase color contrasts, and underline links. This option balances the need for beautiful web design with accessibility.
Interested in adding accessibility to your website? Studio Anansi offers a monthly plan that adds a discrete but highly effective tool to the side of your website.
Check it out in the corner of our own site and get in touch to make your own site more accessible for all.