Accessible Design Tips for Small Businesses Websites

I recently fielded a question from a client who asked “How can I implement accessible design in my small business website?”
My immediate advice was… to focus on key elements such as ensuring text readability with appropriate font size and contrast, using alt text for images, and enabling keyboard navigation. These steps (and others) will help make your site usable for everyone, including those with special needs, and comply with accessibility standards. But there are a few more things at play, that we should consider for accessible design.

Embracing Accessible Design for Business Growth.

Thinking about making your website easy for everyone to use? That’s smart! It means more folks can enjoy it, and that’s good for business. You see, when you make your site work well for people with disabilities, you’re not just ticking a box. You’re actually opening doors to a bigger crowd. And who doesn’t want more happy customers, right?

Let’s break it down a bit. When your website has clear text, good colour contrasts, helpful descriptions for pictures, and lets people navigate easily with a keyboard, it becomes a breeze to use. This a strategic win for all visitors, it’s not simply about compliance. It means they stick around longer, and hey, they might just be more likely to buy something or sign up. So, going for an accessible design isn’t just being nice; it’s thinking ahead. At the end of the day, it boils down to being a business that everyone likes and trusts, helping you stand out in a busy world.

The Importance of Compliance with Accessibility Standards.

Jumping into accessible design is like hitting two birds with one stone. This isn’t just about being nice and inclusive; it’s also a smart business move, too. Right at the center of this wise strategy you’ll find the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG. It helps make your website a breeze to get around for everyone, not just those with disabilities Getting the hang of these guidelines is key to making your website shine online.

WCAG breaks down into three levels: A, AA, and AAA. For most businesses, AA is the sweet spot—it’s a good mix of being accessible without being too tough to pull off. When your site meets these standards, it’s not just easier for people with disabilities to use; it’s a better experience for everyone who stops by.

Did you know...

Canadians with disabilities face challenges in accessing online content, with 15% of disabled people stating they "never" go online compared to 5% of those without disabilities.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians have a disability, which may impact their ability to access or use websites, products, or services.

The Royal Bank of Canada reported that the 5.3 million Canadians with disabilities influence $25 billion in discretionary spending annually. This statistic suggests that by ensuring websites, intranets, and other digital assets are fully compliant with accessibility standards like WCAG, businesses can tap into this significant market segment and potentially increase sales through improved accessibility and inclusivity.

But here’s why you should really care: playing by these rules opens up your business to a whole lot of people. Sticking to these standards means you’re welcoming millions who might struggle on other, less friendly websites. And it makes your brand look good, like you’re business thinks about everyone.

And there’s a cherry on top: search engines love accessible websites. They prefer sites that are easy to navigate and read, so following these guidelines might even bump your site up in search results. Aiming for accessible design is a win-win because you’re not just ticking off a requirement box; you’re making your site more visible and appealing.

Sticking to the WCAG accessibility rules is more than just following the law; it’s a crucial piece of your business marketing puzzle. It makes your website more inviting and ethical, and it’s part of creating a web that’s open to everyone. In the end, investing in accessible design is not just the right thing to do—it’s smart business.

Making Your Text Readable and Engaging.

Jumping into accessible design, is about making your words on the screen as easy to read as possible. Why… Text is our main tool for sharing info online.

Starting with text size: too small, and it’s like mumbling in a noisy spot – no one gets what you’re saying. Too big, and it’s like someone’s shouting at you. You wanna hit that sweet spot where anyone can read your text easily on any gadget or screen. A neat trick is to kick off with a base font size of 16 pixels, tweaking it for titles and subtitles to help people scan through easily.

Now, about fonts: reading fancy, swirly fonts is tough, kinda like catching every word from someone with a strong accent. For your site, go for clean, straightforward fonts. Sans-serif types like Open Sans, Arial, or Helvetica are winners because they’re clear and familiar.

Colour contrast matters too. You ever try spotting light grey text on white? It’s super tricky, like trying to find a polar bear in a snowstorm. You need a good mix of text and background colours so everyone, including those with sight issues, can read without a squint. Tools like WebAIM Contrast Checker are handy for nailing this.

Don’t forget text spacing. Giving lines and paragraphs enough room makes your content breathe, letting readers glide through your words.

So, by zeroing in on these things, you’re doing more than meeting standards; you’re setting up a welcoming space online where folks can easily get what you’re saying. It’s about making a place that draws readers in, making them want to stick around, look around, and connect with your site. That’s the magic of accessible design for you.

Enhancing Accessibility with Alt Text for Images.

Diving into accessible design, there’s a hero that doesn’t always get the spotlight: ALT text for pictures. Don’t think of it as just some extra bit of code, instead it’s one key to making your site welcoming and useful for folks using screen readers.

Pro note: ALT means “alternative text”.

Alt text stands in for an image when it doesn’t show up on a webpage. It’s also a big deal for people who can’t see well, as screen readers use it to paint a picture with words. So, the alt text needs to do more than just say what’s in the image; it should share the picture’s story and its part in your content.

Here’s the skinny on whipping up spot-on alt text:

  • Keep it simple yet spot-on: Describe the image in a nutshell, like you would if you were telling someone about it on a call.
  • Sprinkle in keywords: If it fits, weave in keywords tied to the picture and what you’re talking about, giving your site’s SEO a little boost.
  • Skip the obvious: Don’t start with “image of” or “picture of” since screen readers already flag it as an image.
  • Match the context: The alt text should fit the picture’s role. If it’s just for show, keep it brief. If it’s sharing info, the text should reflect what the image is about and its intent.

Alt text is all about making sure everyone gets a richer story, helping them connect with your content, no matter how they access it. Good alt text steps up your website’s game, making it more user-friendly and better placed in search results.

Throwing in thoughtful alt text isn’t just checking off a task. It’s also about helping boost the content experience for your visitors, and making sure your content resonates with everyone. It’s a small move that can big-time enhance how accessible and enjoyable your site is for everyone.

Navigating Keyboard Accessibility.

Making sure everyone can get around your website easily, especially for folks who use just the keyboard, is super important. It’s not only about helping some people out; it’s about making the whole online space friendly for all.

When we talk about keyboard accessibility, we mean that people should be able to hop through your website using the keyboard alone – no mouse needed! This way, everyone can reach and use your website’s clickable stuff like links, buttons, and forms, and cruise through the site in a way that makes sense.

Here’s how you can make your website a keyboard-friendly zone:

  • Get the order right: The way people tab through your site should line up with what they see on the screen. They should be able to go top to bottom or left to right just like they’re reading a book.
  • Show where they’re at: Use things like outlines or highlights on buttons and links when someone selects them with the keyboard. It’s like saying, “Hey, you’re here now!”
  • Jump straight to the good stuff: Add “skip to content” links at the beginning of your pages so people can skip over the boring navigation bits and get right to the heart of the matter.
  • Make everything reachable: All parts of your site, like pop-ups, dropdowns, and forms, should be easy to get to and use with a keyboard.
  • No dead ends: Make sure no one gets stuck in a spot on your site where they can’t move forward or back. Every area should be easy to get into or get out of.

Focusing on keyboard accessibility isn’t only about standards, it’s also about making your website better for everyone. A site that’s a breeze to navigate is more likely to keep visitors around, turning them from just browsers to actual customers. Let’s make your website a place where everyone can surf smoothly, no matter how they get online.

Utilising WordPress Accessibility Plugins.

WordPress accessibility plugins help make your site friendly for all kinds of visitors. Let’s check out how tools like One Click Accessibility and WP Accessibility can make your accessible design welcoming for everyone.

One Click Accessibility:

This plugin adds a toolbar for a quick fix to boost your WordPress site’s friendliness for everyone. Without question, some accessibility tweaks do require a hands-on approach to your content, but this tool makes it super easy to enhance your site’s accessibility. You don’t need to be a pro, and setting it up is a breeze.

WP Accessibility:

This plugin helps you fix the more common accessibility issues in WordPress themes. While fixing some problems might require tweaking your theme directly, WP Accessibility brings a bunch of useful features that are easy to set up, even if you’re not an expert.

Now, it’s important to know that WP Accessibility doesn’t guarantee your site will meet all accessibility guidelines.

You can turn off any of the features if they don’t fit well with your theme. And for the tech-savvy folks, you can tailor the plugin’s style-changing functions to your taste by adding your own custom stylesheets to your theme directory.

WP Accessibility steps it up by tackling common hurdles right off the bat. It helps by adding clear descriptions to images, boosting colour contrast, and making sure everything can be reached with a keyboard. It’s like giving your website a full accessibility check-up, from clickable links to forms, making sure it’s all good for every user.

These plugins help you improve your accessible design by helping meet some of the WCAG accessibility standards. They’re like a helping hand for small business owners who want to make their websites friendly for everyone but might not be tech wizards. Of course, they do more than just tick off legal boxes; they enhance the visitor experience, open your site to a wider crowd, and help build a digital world that’s inclusive for all.

Adding either of these plugins to your WordPress site is a good step towards maintaining accessible design – I’d not add both though as that can cause issues. They’re your allies in crafting a site that’s not only nice to look at but also great to use for everyone, creating a space that’s open and inviting. By using either of these plugins, you’re closer to making your website a place where every user feels valued, boosting their satisfaction and loyalty.

Choosing the Right WordPress Accessibility Plugin.

Picking the right WordPress accessibility plugin for your site is like finding the perfect tool for the job—it’s got to fit just right and do the job well. Keeping accessible design in mind, let’s dive into what you should think about, to find a plugin that makes your site more welcoming and easy to use.

  • Compatibility: First off, make sure the plugin plays nice with your site’s theme and other plugins. It’s like making sure all the pieces of a puzzle fit; this harmony means your site runs smoothly without any hiccups.
  • Features: Hunt for a plugin that tackles a wide range of accessibility hurdles. Can it handle keyboard navigation, work with screen readers, and tweak visuals like text size and colour contrast? The more it can do, the better it will meet everyone’s needs.
  • User-Friendliness: Opt for a plugin that’s a breeze to set up, tweak, and use, no tech genius required. It should offer a clear interface, letting you adjust things without messing with code.
  • Support and Updates: Go for a plugin with solid support and regular updates. Since accessibility standards and tech are always changing, staying updated means your site stays in tip-top shape. I always check plugin reviews, how many people are using it, and the responses to support questions.

Installing and Configuring Your Plugin:

Installation: Choosing your plugin? Installing it is usually straightforward. Head to the ‘Plugins’ area in your WordPress dashboard, find the plugin by name, and hit ‘Install Now,’ then ‘Activate.’

Configuration: Once it’s up and running, tailor the plugin settings to your liking. This and other plugin solutions, generally come with a control panel for customizing features like font size, colour themes, and help with navigation.

Multimedia and Colour in Accessible Design.

For accessible design, how we use multimedia and colours is super important. Let’s explore how to make your multimedia content friendly for everyone and think about colour choices that work well for people with colour blindness.

Making Multimedia Content Accessible:Accessible design in multimedia isn’t a luxury; it’s a must-have for an inclusive website. Here’s how to make sure your multimedia content is accessible to all:

  • Captions and Subtitles: Videos need captions to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Make sure captions match the spoken words and important sounds.
  • Transcripts: Have transcripts available for audio and video content. They’re great not just for people with hearing issues but also for those who prefer reading over listening or watching.
  • Audio Descriptions: Videos should include audio descriptions that talk about the important visuals that aren’t covered in the dialogue or sounds, aiding users who are blind or have low vision.

Colour Considerations in Accessible Design:Colour in accessible design is more about function than fashion. Here’s how to handle colours in your design to keep it accessible:

  • Contrast Ratios: There should be enough contrast between text and background colours. High contrast helps people with low vision or colour blindness read your content easier.
  • Avoid Colour-Only Information: Don’t use colour as the only way to give out information. Add text labels, patterns, or shapes so everyone can understand, regardless of how they see colour.
  • Test for Colour Blindness Compatibility: Use tools that show how your site’s colours look to people with different types of colour blindness. Tweak your colours to make sure everyone can see and understand your site clearly.

Venngage has a Colour Blind Simulator tool you can try out. Toptal provides the Colourblind Web Page Filter, and it’s the tool I use the most.

By including these practices, you’re not simply sticking to accessible design guidelines, rather you’re making your site more useful, to more people. Accessible design aims to create a website that’s open and usable to people, regardless of their abilities or how they perceive the world.

The Path to Website Accessible Design.

Some last words about accessible design… Think of it as a win-win strategy for growing your business and boosting how folks feel about your site.

Pro tip: Make sure that your mobile friendly design also includes accessibility features as well!

Accessible design makes your online spot welcoming to everyone, no matter their abilities or how they see the world.

With WordPress plugins like One Click Accessibility and WP Accessibility, we’ve seen that sprucing up your site for everyone isn’t a massive headache. These plugins are like a fast track to getting your site really easy to use, so folks can dive in and connect with your stuff without a hitch.

Making your website accessible isn’t just about checking off guideline requirements. It’s about crafting a site where everyone feels like they matter and can easily dive into what your brand is all about. Stepping up with inclusive design not only spruces up your brand’s look but also tugs at customers’ hearts, giving your business a real boost.

So, kick into gear and see accessible design as a continuous journey, not just a one-off chore. Keep your website in line with accessibility standards and stay on top of the latest in accessible design.

An accessible site isn’t only better for people with disabilities; it’s a win for everyone. Try to aim for a site that’s inclusive, respectful, and open to all. Your journey to an accessible website begins now. Ready to make a change?

FAQs for Accessible Design.

What is accessible design for websites?

Accessible design for websites refers to creating web pages that can be used by everyone, including people with disabilities. This means designing your website in a way that accommodates users with various needs, such as those who use screen readers, have mobility impairments, or have visual or hearing disabilities.

Why is accessible design important for small businesses?

Accessible design is crucial for small businesses because it ensures that their website is usable by a broader audience, including individuals with disabilities. This not only expands the potential customer base but also improves overall user experience and satisfaction, potentially increasing sales and enhancing the company’s reputation.

How can small businesses implement accessible design on their websites?

Small businesses can implement accessible design by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), using accessible design WordPress plugins, ensuring text readability, providing alt text for images, enabling keyboard navigation, and considering colour contrast and multimedia accessibility in their website design.

Can accessible design improve a small business’s SEO ranking?

Yes, accessible design can improve a small business’s SEO ranking. Search engines favour websites that provide a good user experience, and accessible websites tend to have features like clear navigation and high-quality content, which can lead to better search engine rankings.

What are the benefits of accessible design for users without disabilities?

Accessible design benefits users without disabilities by creating a more user-friendly and intuitive website experience. Features that make a site more accessible, such as clear navigation, consistent layout, and easy-to-read text, improve the overall usability and satisfaction for all users, leading to a more positive interaction with the website.

Is your website accessible?

With this breezy quiz, you’ll see if your site’s cutting it for everyone, disabilities and all. Cruise through these straightforward questions to uncover how your site could shine brighter with some accessible design magic. Don’t skip the chance to crank up your website’s welcoming vibe and simplicity. See how accessible design can a turn your website into a more inclusive space.

Does Your Business Website Need Accessible Design Improvements?

Find out if our WordPress accessible design services are right for you. Answer these questions to see if accessible design is what your website needs!

Do users have difficulty navigating your website using keyboard-only controls?
Accessible design ensures keyboard navigability for users with mobility impairments.

Does your website lack alt text for images, making it challenging for visually impaired users?
Alt text is crucial for screen readers to describe images to visually impaired users.

Is your website content hard to read due to poor text size or colour contrast?
Good text readability and colour contrast are essential for accessible design.

Have visitors complained about the accessibility of your website?
User feedback can indicate the need for improved accessible design.

Are multimedia elements on your site missing captions or audio descriptions?
Captions and audio descriptions make multimedia content accessible to all users.

Do you lack a clear and consistent layout that supports easy navigation for all users?
A consistent layout is a key aspect of accessible design, aiding user orientation.

Is your website failing to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)?
Compliance with WCAG is a cornerstone of accessible design.

Do you lack the knowledge or resources to test and implement accessible design on your site?
Understanding and implementing accessible design may require expert assistance.

Are you unsure if your website’s colour scheme is accessible to users with colour vision deficiencies?
Colour accessibility is an important part of web design, ensuring readability for everyone.

Have you not used or considered using WordPress accessibility plugins to improve your site’s accessibility?
Accessibility plugins can significantly enhance the accessible design of your WordPress site.

 

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