Easy steps to web design accessibility

Web design accessibility is about making your website accessible to the maximum number of people with different kinds of disabilities and deficiencies, as well as to people using small-display devices to surf the web.

A lot of countries have legislation which requires certain types of websites to comply with minimum accessibility standards in order to be open to the largest possible audience. Building accessible websites is a relatively new technique, but it can be very advantageous in terms of visitors, search engine optimization and website maintenance costs.

According to the stats, millions of people are considered someway disabled and are not able to use websites in traditional way, creating accessible websites you may increase your audience significantly. Taking into consideration all the users browsing websites from their cell phones, Web TV and PDAs, by making an accessible website you can increase the number of visitors at least by 1/3.

As for the SEO, search engine bots are the most disabled visitors, not able to read anything but your code. Making your websites understandable for the disabled you simultaneously increase your chances to appear in search engine result pages.

The hardest web accessibility task is to make your website understandable to visually impaired and blind people. Because blind people are using special screen readers and other text-to-voice software, you need to make sure the source code it reads is comprehensible. First, you need to take care of the images on your website, providing Alt text to describe these images. It’s also necessary to arrange the structure of your content so it had a clear hierarchy of importance. Provide your texts with semantic h1 — h3 headers as well as other meaningful HTML tags.

Visually impaired group of visitors includes color blind people, who sometimes have difficulties in distinguishing the texts and other elements on the web because they are not sufficiently different from the colors surrounding them, as well as the background color. In order to make your website accessible for the color blind people take care of the colors and try to use other types of accentuating, rather than color — bold type and underlining, especially for the links. Pay attention to the combinations of colors you’re using on your web pages — most color blind people are unable to tell apart red and green, so try not to mix them.

Another group of people might have eyesight difficulties and in order to increase web design accessibility for them, you need to make all your design elements, especially fonts and images, enlargeable.

As for people with hearing problems, it’s rather easy to make your website more accessible to them — instead of providing only audio information, suggest alternative text version of the audio.

People with physical disabilities are usually unable to use mouth or touch pad, this is why it is highly recommended that you made your website navigation as simple as possible. Make the clickable area around the links much bigger for people who find it hard to
There is a common misconception that accessible websites look uglier than others. Although not many web designers have learned this technique, those of them who did are already creating web design masterpieces.

And you may wrongly thinks, that creating an accessible website is a lot more expensive, than a usual one. Even if it costs you slightly more, there are many benefits that will help you receive a great return on your investment. Except for all the stuff I said before, creating an accessible website design is a step forward into the future, when large proportion of people will be using small display devices to browse web sites. And because only people with good income can afford such devices, you’ll have access to a large and lucrative audience, that none of your competitors do.

If you want to create an accessible web design, remember to test it in text-only browsers and with screen reading software, as well as services transforming your site into its wap version and other web accessibility evaluation tools.

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