expressed opinion entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
You are about to launch your business website. Congratulations! You’ve registered your domain name, got your snazzy logo and some Instagram-friendly images, and wrote an engaging copy. You can get your website online in just a few clicks.
At least quarter Some of your potential customers in the United States have some kind of disability and may not be able to access or interact with your website. People with visual impairments or color blindness may not have access to the cool logos and trendy brand colors that you are proud of. Without properly ranked titles and tagged interactive elements, keyboard-only users or people using assistive technology such as screen readers will not be able to navigate your site and complete a purchase.
Unfortunately, most business owners don’t design their websites with accessibility in mind, and often have to work backwards to fix bugs. Some bugs, like missing written descriptions of images, are relatively easy to fix (considering you don’t have hundreds of images). Others, such as site navigation structure and headings, may require more work.
By incorporating accessibility into your website development and design, you can save time, effort and money in the long run.
Here are five key steps to keep in mind when launching a business website.
Related: How Website Accessibility Affects Your Brand’s Reputation and Success
1. Start with an accessible template
Whichever platform you choose, make sure to choose an accessible template.For example, many Default WordPress Template Follow the latest accessibility best practices, such as color contrast, keyboard navigation, and link focus.
However, even if you choose an accessible template, once you start customizing and adding content, you may end up with accessibility errors.in their Accessibility of topic Help Center articlesShopify reminds users, “When you customize your theme, it’s best to choose design and content that will help keep your online store accessible…Accessibility of your online store is critical to providing an inclusive experience for your customers. “
If you work with a digital agency, make sure they choose an accessible template for your website. It’s even better if your digital agency offers affordable tools for continuous accessibility.
Related: Why your website needs to be accessible to everyone
2. Follow basic accessibility guidelines
As you start adding content to your website, keep in mind the following based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — International Standard for Web Accessibility.
- Think of heading structure as an outline, not a style element. Don’t skip levels and use proper HTML tags.
- add a written description, or all text, to all images, including those used as links, such as logos with links to the home page. Keep your alt text short and aim to provide an accurate and relevant description.
- Make sure your site can be operated without a mouse, i.e. all interactive elements (such as buttons, links, and form fields) are styled for keyboard focus. You can test by using the Tab key to move from one element to another and interacting with the elements using the arrow keys, Enter key, or space bar.
- Use sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana, which can be used by people with dyslexia.
- When choosing brand colors, make sure there is enough color contrast between the text and the background. Aim for a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 or higher.use one Free Color Contrast Checker See if your color scheme is available.
- Avoid complex animations and flickering images.
- Use simple, straightforward language and avoid uncommon names for common elements.
3. Make all your content accessible
Your videos, PDFs, emails and social posts must also be accessible. Use tools with accessibility features. For example, video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo have automatic closed captions. Adobe Acrobat Pro has built-in tools to automate some important PDF accessibility tasks.This is a roundup PDF accessibility tips to get you started.
When it comes to social media, keep these basic best practices in mind:
- Limit emojis to two or three per post. Screen readers use words to describe emoji, so a series of smiley faces and hearts in the middle of an Instagram caption becomes “Smiley, Smiley Smiley, Heart-Eyed Smiley, Heart, Heart, Heart.”
- Make your hashtags accessible by capitalizing the first letter of each word in your hashtag (also known as CamelCase) so screen readers can properly separate words (#SuperBowl, not #SuperbOwl) and treat them as words instead of individual letters to read.
- Add alt text to your images. Some platforms, such as LinkedIn, allow you to add alt text within a limit of about 300 characters.
- Add subtitle filters to short videos like Instagram Reels.
To make your email accessible, in addition to the website accessibility best practices above, follow these basic rules:
- Communicate information through text and use fewer images and other visual elements.
- Choose a single-column layout.
- Use sans-serif fonts and a font size large enough to be legible regardless of screen size.
- Make sure there is enough space between the different elements. You can add padding to your call-to-action button.
- Describe the link in a meaningful way. For example, instead of writing “click here,” write “sign up for the newsletter.”
- Include the “plain text” or web browser version of the email. Most email platforms, like Hubspot, offer these options.
Related: Even Internet Entrepreneurs Need to Make Their Businesses Accessible
4. Pre-launch test
You have several options to test your website.You can test it manually and use Free Accessibility Checker See where you stand and what needs to be addressed before launching.
Be sure to review the video transcript and auto-generated subtitles to ensure quality and accuracy. They are easily updated on major hosting platforms like YouTube.
5. Run periodic tests
As mentioned earlier, accessibility is an ongoing effort. Run regular tests to make sure your website is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. This way, you’ll be able to spot and fix bugs as they arise, avoiding losing customers or running into legal issues.under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses must make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.
If you choose an accessible solution, make sure it includes real-time monitoring and reporting.
Why Prioritize Accessibility
While making your website accessible may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Including accessibility from the start doesn’t even feel like an extra problem or expense.
Besides accessibility being the most concrete way to build an inclusive business and brand, making your website accessible will help you rank higher in search and improve discoverability through voice search.do you know 41% of U.S. adults and 55% of teens Use voice search every day? If your website ranks high in search engines and is optimized for voice search, more customers will be able to find you online. And, in our post-Covid world, online visibility is critical to business success.