By Andi Croft

When building a small business or e-commerce site, it shouldn’t be designed for only one type of visitor.

Although many people can adapt to a usable site that they can freely navigate, many users still don’t have that same ability. Therefore, approach your content differently. In this post, we’ll discuss why you should design and develop your site for accessibility.

We’ll also talk about several ways how to ensure that your site meets all the essential guidelines:

1. Make your website easier to navigate

People with disabilities use the internet regularly for online shopping, watching movies, or just using their favorite social media platform. If your site is hard to navigate, you need to put in the work to make your site more accessible.

One way to make your site more accessible is to set it up so that it can be easily browsed using a keyboard. It is essential because most disabled users can’t use a scroll mouse or pad. Meaning, they are mostly limited to the main keyboard of their computer.

2. Incorporate Labels on Form Fields

Another effective way to boost your accessibility efforts is your forms. Make sure that users can quickly fill these out. One of the most common mistakes many people make with their website is to use placeholder text as labels.

In a nutshell, placeholder text is the light gray text with low contrast that you’ll notice in some forms but starts to go away as soon as you start typing. It can be a bit tough to read for visually impaired users.

Since the text disappears as soon as you enter the information, it can be challenging to remember what the field is initially used for.

Moreover, for those using screen readers, the screen reader will usually only read the <label> elements for every field, and the placeholder text is skipped over.

Apart from using <label> tags in naming form fields, see that users know what they need to do and write on the form. You can add a small helper text above the tooltip of a form field. It doesn’t mean that you clutter forms with unnecessary information. Just ensure that you give clues without the guesswork.

3. Provide subtitles and transcripts

If you include videos in your content, adding subtitles and transcribing audio will significantly help people with hearing impairments.

In the same way, subtitles also have great use with people with ADHD since they have something they can focus on, making it easy for them to understand and enjoy. Find out what makes great content and how it affects your business.

4. Allow users to enlarge font sizes

People who have visual impairments have difficulty reading smaller font sizes. Therefore, they need to use specific font settings when browsing your site. Provide them with an alternate sheet with the ability to enlarge the font size without breaking the page layout. Doing so makes it easy for them to read your content.

In the same way, your CTA buttons should also have larger font sizes, and these buttons stand out to people who have impaired vision.

5. Choose an accessible color palette

A simple and easy-to-use layout will be pointless if you’re still using the wrong colors. Using clashing colors, for instance, will make it hard for people to distinguish.

Studies show that at least 8% of all men have color vision deficiency or red/green blindness. So, you might want to avoid using these colors as much as possible.

On the other side, using various color schemes to structure your content may benefit those with learning difficulties. It’s all about choosing the right colors and colors that aren’t too loud.

For example, using bright yellow, green, and blue together makes it difficult for users to distinguish. In the same way, you should also be using whitespace. That way, it’s easier for users to differentiate content blocks.

6. Give your links a unique and descriptive name

Words like “click here” in links aren’t always quite as helpful for search engine robots and screen reader users. Instead, you can use text that describes where the link goes.

Users who are visually impaired can scan through links just like sighted users. Therefore, using descriptive texts will help explain the content of every link.

7. Add proper alt text to all images

Alt texts are a clear and concise description of an image. People who are using screen readers can understand your webpage better. In the same way, search engines also use it when indexing your site. Alt text will also show in case the image doesn’t load.

You own a bookstore, and on your homepage, there’s a picture of you standing outside of your shop. You might describe it as something like, ‘owner stands outside the bookstore holding a pile of books.’

8. Minimize the use of tables

Screen readers will tell blind users how many columns and rows a table has. But it can be challenging for screen readers to read this tabular data in the same flow that matches the visual order. So as much as possible, utilize CSS for data presentation.

If you have to create a table, ensure that you use the right headers for every column and row. To offer additional context for disabled users, you can use HTML5 table captions.

9. Make sure your website is keyboard-friendly

Finally, the most important tip is to make your site keyboard-friendly if you want your site to be more accessible. That’s because most assistive technologies rely only on keyboard-only navigation.

Therefore, it should be possible to use all of your site’s significant features through a keyboard and nothing else, including accessing all links, content, pages, etc.

Over to You

So there you have it. These are some of the most critical steps and actionable ways you need to make your small business site more accessible. Implementing these suggestions enhances your site’s accessibility and boosts your search engine rankings in the long run.

About the author:

Andi Croft is a freelance writer interested in topics related to business, technology, and travel. She has a passion for meeting people from all walks of life and bringing along the latest tech to enhance her adventures.