The 4 Basics to an Accessible Website

The 4 Basics to an Accessible Website

By Morgan Gilmore

When architects make a building, there are requirements for accessibility; always have two exits, every bedroom needs a window, a home needs a bathroom, etc. Similarly, building a website asks for its own requirements. It’s important to remember that one person’s experience of the internet may not be the same as someone else’s. Luckily, the process of making an accessible website is a little easier than renovating an entire kitchen.

Web accessibility matters for websites because it widens the net of visitors, provides equal opportunity for users and removes inadvertent hurdles. Below are some essential ways to make a site more accessible.

Legible fonts

With thousands of fonts available, there are quite a few that work well for readability. A safe assumption would be to use simple sans serif fonts that are most commonly used. Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, and Helvetica are listed as potential options by the Bureau of Internet Accessibility. Another choice is to search for font types created by people who have dyslexia or who are visually impaired. 

Appropriate color choices

According to the National Eye Institute, red and green color blindness is the most common type of color blindness, however, some people may also experience blue and yellow color blindness as well as complete color blindness. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) outline in detail the specific high contrast ratio requirements for a website to be compliant.

When conveying information, it’s best to not depend on color to deliver information. There are many different sites available that help emulate what a website would look like for those with color blindness. ColorSafe, Spectrum, or WebAIM’s Contrast Checker tool are great tools to get started out on the right foot.

Alt Text on images

Alt text is the substitute for an image in a variety of situations; if the photo can’t load properly, screen readers as well as for search engines. Having alt text is an easy way to make a website more accessible. It explains what the image is trying to convey so everyone can navigate equally. When writing alt text, it should be relevant to the image and simple in its description. For more examples, check out Web Accessibility in Mind’s article on Alternative Text.

Plan for Different Devices

According to Pew Research, 6 out of every 10 adults are using mobile devices instead of desktop to access the internet. With over 60% of people accessing the web with their phone, adopting a mobile first design strategy can help ensure that everyone who visits has an equal opportunity.

Having a more accessible website builds integrity in a brand. It shows an attention to detail and to the needs of those who use the site. Inclusive websites tend to stand out and can build longevity in relationships with users.