What is web accessibility and why is it important?
Web accessibility ensures that people of all abilities are able to access and use the web. This is important because for most, the web is an important part of our daily life. By making websites accessible, we can help create a more inclusive society where everyone has equal access to information and opportunities. Although we will not go into detail on the legal ramifications of non-accessible web content, it is important to note that following accessibility guidelines help you to remain compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws.
Why should marketers care about making content accessible?
In addition to being the right thing to do, accessibility also has a compelling business use case for marketers. According to the CDC, one in four adults in the United States is living with a disability. Creating content that is accessible to everyone ensures that all potential customers, regardless of ability, can find and engage with your business. Accessible websites and content are inherently more user-friendly, which makes it easier for everyone to access and interact with your product or service. Providing accessible content helps to build trust and credibility with customers, as well as demonstrate your commitment to providing equitable experiences to all users. We also know that accessibility is an important factor in search engine optimization.
Website Accessibility and SEO
Website accessibility should be prioritized in every company’s SEO strategy. The most obvious reason for this is that it makes your website easier to use, which will lead to more visitors and a better user experience. This creates a positive feedback loop: a better user experience leads to more traffic which means more content which means better rankings. In addition, Google has confirmed that accessibility is a ranking signal. In other words, if your site meets accessibility standards, it can help your site rank higher than competitors who don’t have an accessible site.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of guidelines for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the internet. The WCAG provides a set of standards and techniques that can be used to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, such as those who are blind, deaf, or have other disabilities that make it difficult to use the web. These guidelines cover a wide range of areas, including the design and organization of web pages, the use of images and other multimedia, and the use of different technologies to make web content more accessible. By following the WCAG, web developers and designers can help ensure that web content is accessible to as many people as possible. The WCAG guidelines are too extensive to cover fully in this blog post so today we’ll cover the 4 principles that the guidelines fall into.
Principles of WCAG
WCAG guidelines are divided into the following 4 principles.
Perceivable: Content must be presented in a way that is easy to perceive, understand, and interact with, including providing text alternatives for non-text content.
Operable: Content must be operable and easy to use, including making all functions available from a keyboard.
Understandable: Content must be easy to understand, including providing text alternatives for complex images and providing clear navigation.
Robust: Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
10 Tips for Making Your Marketing Content Accessible
If you’re just getting started with web accessibility, here are some best practices to make your web content more accessible. We are just scratching the surface here so be sure to take some time and familiarize yourself with WCAG in it’s entirety.
- Use a clear and simple layout for your emails and website. Avoid using complicated designs that can make it difficult for people with visual impairments to navigate.
- Ensure your font selections are easy to read. Considerations include typeface, weight, size, and color.
- Remember to use HTML headings and subheadings to structure your content not for adjusting the size of the text. This is important for people using screen readers to navigate your content as well as bots that are scanning your content for search engine indexing.
- Input alternative (alt) text for images. This will allow people using screen readers to understand the content of your images.
- Use plain language and avoid using jargon or complex language that can be difficult to understand.
- Use bullet points or numbered lists to make your content easier to scan and read.
- Use clear and descriptive links that explain where the link will take the reader. Avoid using vague wording like “Click here.”
- Leave links underlined. Underlining links serves an important purpose and will need further CSS customizations if underlines are removed.
- Be mindful of color contrast ratios when designing website pages, marketing graphics, and emails. Use a color contrast checker when creating any assets.
- Test your emails and website pages with a screen reader and other accessibility tools to make sure they are accessible. This will allow you to identify and fix any accessibility issues before hitting publish.
Measuring the success of your accessibility efforts is critical to making sure you’re on the right track. But, how do you know if your efforts are making an impact?
There are a couple of ways to measure the impact of web accessibility, both for your bottom line and for your reputation as a brand.
- Analytics: Site analytics can help identify where users might be having trouble with navigation and content. This data can inform future design decisions or help guide workflows that prioritize accessibility testing.
- User feedback: User feedback from surveys or usability testing sessions will give insight into how well people understand what you’ve built. The insights from this type of research can help identify areas where specific improvements need to be made in terms of structure and labeling, as well as unclear messaging or confusing interactions.
Making your web content accessible is an important step toward ensuring that all of your customers can have an optimal experience with your brand. That said, there are many different approaches marketers can take when it comes down to making their online presence accessible and implementing accessibility best practices into their workflow. Accessibility is a team effort and an ongoing process. Find a method that works best for your organization and implement it consistently across all projects so that everyone knows what they need to do when creating content or designing marketing materials. I hope that this guide has given your team a good idea of how to make your web content more accessible. Remember: accessibility is not just about making sure people with disabilities can access your website, it’s also about making sure everyone has a great user experience.