Here’s a secret tool that most web designers don’t consider.
Make sure your website is accessible to persons with different abilities. Why accessible? Well, remember that not everyone who visits your website will be able to see, hear, or understand your website that way you envision it, and not everyone can use a mouse to navigate through websites, either. However, it is essential that you reach as many people as possible. Unfortunately, many website designers do not design for the special needs of persons with different abilities or varying technologies, but you don’t want to exclude any potential visitor from your site.
What’s the answer? Dream Seed Multimedia. I design EVERY website with accessibility in mind. See why accessibility is so important and also learn how you can run some quick checks to determine if your (or any) website is accessible.
Why web accessibility is important
- An accessible website benefits all users, not just those with disabilities. Was there ever a time when you have visited a website and were unsure of how to use it or where to find the information you needed? Did you ever find text on a site difficult to read, either because of its size or color? Have images on a site not loaded, resulting in your inability to use the site? Accessible websites help prevent these problems for everyone, not just visitors with different abilities.
- When website visitors can’t find what they need on your website, they’ll simply abandon it and move on to the next one. If this is due to something that can’t be easily accessed but is on your site, then you just lost a potential customer!
- Advocacy groups are beginning to challenge companies whose websites are inaccessible. Some, including retailer Target, have been sued for refusing to make their websites accessible.
- Web accessibility is simply the right thing to do!
More on website qualities…
Why most web designers still don’t make accessible websites
- Some web designers are reluctant to design accessible websites because they believe that accessible design will hamper creativity and style. That is simply not true. After all, a great website is not only easy to use, but it is appealing as well. It simply requires mindful and intentional planning and perhaps approaching things from a different angle, but there are some who don’t want to take the time.
- More often than not, most web designers simply are unaware of web accessibility. Despite a lot of research and discussion on the subject, most designers don’t even know that web accessibility is an option.
Five simple tests to determine if your current website is accessible
If you currently have a website and want to see how it could be rendered to persons with varying abilities, try these simple tests. Remember, to “pass the test” does not mean the site will be as beautiful as it was before. Your site just has to be usable, and the information must be accessible. (Note: Not all browsers may enable the following tests easily.)
- Turn off all images, and reload the page. Can you still make sense of the site? (This helps determine how someone with a visual impairment might hear the site read from a screen reader or how someone with a slow internet connection would see your site.)
- Turn off style sheets, and reload the page. Can you still make sense of the site? (This also helps determine how someone with a visual impairment might hear the site read from a screen reader or how someone with a slow internet connection would see your site.)
- Turn off the volume, and reload the page. Without sounds played, does your site still work? (A person with hearing impairments may experience your site in this manner.)
- Increase font sizes, or zoom in the website. Did the text get larger? (People with visual impairments may try to increase font sizes for easier readability. Some sites, unfortunately, do not allow this.)
- Use the keyboard to TAB through links. Are you able to use the navigation links without a mouse? (People with motor impairments, whether permanent or temporary, may not be able to use the point-and-click functionality of a mouse.)
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other tests, and there are validators that can run automated tests to help determine a site’s accessibility. But this should be enough to give you a taste of what Dream Seed Multimedia will do for the site I design for you.
Websites should also be usable
In website lingo, usability refers to how easy a website is to use. There’s been a lot of research conducted on usability, so there are some best practices that web designers should use. How many times have you tried to click on something that was underlined but later realized that it really wasn’t a link? Has it ever been difficult to read a web page because the colors were somehow not quite right? Have you ever gotten an error message but didn’t know what it meant or how to fix it?
These are all usability issues. Following some of these best practices, such as only underlining links, making sure that text is well contrasted from the background, and writing error messages in plain language, will make your website visitors happy.
With this information about web accessibility and usability, you’re better prepared to talk to web designers. Remember to work with one who cares about making sure your website is accessible and usable to all your visitors.
If you’d like to learn more, you can read through my articles of web accessibility. You can also go right to the source: the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This website’s Accessibility Statement is also a sample of what an accessible site can do for visitors.