In today’s digital era, a website is said to be an undeniable necessity in every business. It connects and interacts with your target audience in a way that no other marketing strategy can do. That’s why having a compelling, creatively designed, and researched-based website can contribute significantly to the success of your business venture. However, making your website accessible is also a critical part you shouldn’t disregard.
It’s said that there are moral and legal obligations for businesses to make their online content and services usable for everyone including those with disabilities. Ensuring accessibility makes your website extremely user-friendly. It may also help improve your brand’s reputation by enabling all users to have an equal chance to engage with your business’ products and services.
For you to develop a site that everybody will find easy to use, take note of some of the common mistakes to avoid. Some of them are listed below. Check them out to find out more about each one.
- Keyboard Inaccessibility
People living with motor and visual impairments are only able to use the keyboard to navigate and use a website on the Internet. However, the nature of the site architecture can make using tabs or navigation keys difficult whenever a user needs to jump to a particular section. In addition, most notification and pop-up forms usually have no exit options operable with a keyboard except by a mouse. This can be quite frustrating and hinder site accessibility.
Also, it’s said that many developers disable the visual keyboard focus indicator for aesthetic reasons. This makes it hard for users with disabilities to precisely know where they are on a web page. When your website doesn’t support keyboard navigation, you’ll be locking out many users who can’t access it with only a mouse. To that end, ensure that the keyboard focus indicator is enabled. Test your website using the keyboard-only feature to see certain issues that may need fixing.
- Having No Or Insufficient Alternative Text
It’s common to see website images without or with inadequate alternative texts. When this happens, a user with visual impairment will be unaware of the image and its details.
Screen readers and other assistive technology tools commonly used by people living with cognitive or visual disabilities will read the description to the user. The issue is that screen reader tools can’t analyze and recognize what an image represents but can read out the text when the user interacts or hovers over the image. A website needs to have sufficient description text for all non-decorative images on the page.
Similarly, don’t also forget to provide alternative text for audio files for the sake of people with hearing impairments. Other users accessing the site in a noisy place also will find the transcript useful.
These are transcripts for audio files such as podcasts, and subtitles and captions for video files. Essentially, any information on your website in an image, audio, or video form must have a text equivalent. But all decorative images must have a null alternative text tag so that screen readers can disregard them.
- Inaccessible Forms
When you omit form labels or when you add labels to the form field makes it difficult for screen readers to communicate what information the user is supposed to supply. It also makes it challenging for users with learning or cognitive disorders to input the correct information. Similarly, when you implement form timeouts, users with motor disabilities have difficulty filling the forms due to the limited amount of time provided.
Ensure that the forms have relevant and unique labels for each field. Also, avoid using colors to highlight errors and other issues in the website, as people living with color blindness will have a hard time dealing with that. Instead, use descriptive error messages that notify a user when an error occurs. Removing timeouts enable users to fill the forms at a comfortable pace.
- Flashing Elements And Striking Colors
Though bright and contrasting colors are appealing and make your website look great, they may spell the opposite to certain individuals. Although appealing to many users, a website that features sliders, jarring colors, and carousels may be harmful to people with neurological disorders such as epilepsy. They’re said to trigger seizures.
There was a case in Japan in 1997 widely known for affecting more than 600 children. An episode of the anime Pokémon was being watched across the country that contained flashing content ended up harming young audiences.
Make it essential to allow users to choose to control moving elements and color scheme movement before they start engaging with your site and its contents. You can also use Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based accessibility solutions that implement user-friendly protocols automatically.
- Missing Or Vague Anchor Text
Another common mistake by web designers is adding hyperlinks to icons and images. Again, screen readers and assistive technology tools usually can’t identify such links. Users with visual impairments are therefore hindered from interacting with your site correctly. This creates a bad user experience. Likewise, when you use vague anchor text such as ‘read more’ or ‘click here,’ you fail to describe to the user where the anchor leads.
Ensure that all hyperlinks in your website have descriptions and easy-to-understand anchor texts. Besides making your website accessible, it also helps your search engine optimization (SEO) because crawlers will understand your page content better and help with the ranking.
The characteristics of hyperlinks that are said to be ideal are:
- Readable, and
- Auto-Play Videos And Audio
Enabling the auto-play audio and video feature on your webpage may seem like an excellent way to grab users’ attention and initiate engagement. But, sudden interruption with sound can be confusing and distracting for a person using a screen reader to navigate your site. Remember that some users using screen readers depend on them to know what’s on the website. Any other sound may hamper the tools’ performance.
Unwarranted sounds may also make your website unsafe for users prone to seizures that are easily triggered by them. Some users with cognitive disabilities may also find the presence of animations too distracting. It’s good practice to disable auto-play features for all audio and video files on your website. Otherwise, provide appropriate controls to disable the feature before browsing the site.
Building accessible websites make a real impact on users, not only those living with disabilities but also for all users across the board. Accessible designs create equality in the digital space. Besides, it’s good for your business’ site as it tends to promote better navigation, page structures, simple language, and is overall more usable. This gives all users an excellent experience which increases your brand’s reach and reputation.
The more people find your site usable, the better the chances of increased sales rates and positive audience feedback.