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How to Create an Accessible Web Design

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Everyone should be able to use websites. The internet is very important in our lives. This means making websites that people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can use. Some countries even have laws that mandates  websites to be accessible. 

In this post, we will learn about how to make an accessible website. We’ll talk about how to make it easy to use, the basics of accessibility, and how to check if it is. Let’s get started!

What is Accessible Web Design?

Accessible web design is also known as universal design. That means websites need to be accessible to everyone. That is, it should be usable by people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Generally, it’s assumed that accessibility means accommodating people with disabilities. Instead, it’s about creating websites that are usable by everyone.

Accessible websites should incorporate the following elements: 

Clear and consistent navigation

It is crucial that your website users can navigate around in an intuitive manner. Websites generally have the main navigation at the top. And that is where users will expect to find it.

Present the navigation in a clear and consistent way. Also, the main purpose of navigation is to allow users to find information quickly and easily.

Responsive design

Your website must adapt to different screen sizes, resolutions, and orientations. People surf the internet using their mobile phones more than ever. Thus, you should design your website to adapt to various devices.

The method of designing a website to be responsive is also known as the mobile-first approach. The reason is, you start designing for the smallest screen and work your way up to larger ones. When you approach responsive design this way, it makes development a lot easier.

Easy-to-read fonts and text

Typography in web design is a huge topic. The fonts and text sizes should be readable and comfortable for your visitor. There can be nothing more annoying than trying to squeeze your eyes to read small fonts.

Furthermore, you should consider fluid typography. This goes hand in hand with responsive design. Your fonts too should grow and shrink adapting to various screen sizes.Moreover, your choice of fonts and text sizes should consider people of all ages and vision types.

Color contrast

You should pay attention to the color palette you use on your web pages. Trying to use fancy colors at the cost of losing valuable information is not worth it. Contrasting colors should complement the visibility of text, images, and other elements.

It can confuse your visitor if the colors are not contrasting enough. This in turn can cause frustration and contribute to poor user experience.

Accessible content

Some of your website visitors may have certain disabilities. Thus, use alternative texts for images, captioning for videos, and transcripts for audio. These things help users browse your website using assistive technologies. As a result, you can ensure your website reaches a wider audience.

You should also note, it is possible to present the same information in many forms. For instance, having alternative text descriptions for your images would help screen readers. This would certainly aid visitors who hear your website content rather than view it.

Keyboard accessibility

Not all users prefer browsing websites using only a mouse. Instead, there are visitors who prefer using the keyboard only. More than a preference, it may be because the user has access only to a keyboard.

There are a few things to consider when designing for keyboard accessibility. For instance, a keyboard user would tap the tab key to navigate between links on the page. Or, they may use the page up or down keys to scroll up and down.

Alternative navigation

Your website should include alternative navigation options. These options are skip-navigation links and breadcrumb trails. In fact, these types of navigational elements help visitors not feel disoriented.

Indeed, alternative navigation can help users know where they are in an intuitive way. Thus, take into consideration such elements when planning the architecture of the website.

The Importance of Usability

Besides being accessible, websites must also be usable. Usability is when users find websites to be easy to use and understand. 

It is easy to get carried away when designing your website. Instead of throwing in all the bells and whistles, you should focus on the user’s experience. Furthermore, it is important that your website design is intuitive and consistent.

Usability helps ensure your users can find the information quickly and easily. And, it prevents them from becoming frustrated and going to another website.

Also, usability helps create an enjoyable user experience. This is vital for visitor retention. In other words, your visitors will keep coming back again and again.

Usability also ensures your users can access all the information on your website. What’s the point of having all the information if they can’t access them?

Besides, it helps ensure your website is accessible to all, regardless of their abilities.

Last and most importantly, it ensures your website is compliant with accessibility laws.

How to Test Your Design for Accessibility

Once you’ve designed and created your website, it’s important to test it for accessibility. There are a variety of tools available to help you test your design, including: 

  • WAVE is a free tool that allows you to test web pages for accessibility. Enter the address of the web page you are testing in the text field and press enter. This tool provides a visual representation of the page elements. Afterward, it highlights any errors or issues that may need attention. 
  • AInspector is a paid tool that allows you to test web pages for accessibility. It comes as a browser extension for Firefox. And, it provides detailed reports on any errors or issues. 
  • Color Contrast Analyzer is a free tool that allows you to test the color contrast of web pages. It helps ensure that text and other elements are visible to all users and comes as a Chrome extension. 
  • Accessibility Checker is a free tool that allows you to test web pages for accessibility. It provides detailed reports on any errors or issues. 
  • The Accessibility Developer Tools is a free browser extension that allows you to test web pages for accessibility. This too provides detailed reports on any errors or issues.

Conclusion 

Creating an accessible web design is an important part of creating a website that is usable and enjoyable by all. Accessible web designs should be consistent, responsive, and easy to use. In addition, they should incorporate accessible content, alternative navigation, and color contrast. Finally, designers should test their designs for accessibility using tools such as WAVE, AInspector, Color Contrast Analyzer, Accessibility Checker, and Accessibility Developer Tools. 

By following these guidelines, designers can create web designs that are accessible, usable, and enjoyable by all.

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