The Ins and Outs of Accessible Website Design

The Ins and Outs of Accessible Website Design
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Often web developers cringe at the word accessibility, especially when it comes to ensuring their website meets required accessibility guidelines.  Many web designers have an irrational fear that developing an accessible website means contracting out to a third party professional experienced in the field or the outlandish apprehension of shelling out hundreds of dollars on expensive software programs.  The truth is common sense website design resolves the majority of accessibility issues that many users encounter when attempting to view a website.

What is Accessible Web Design?

While the topic of accessible web design or universal design, far exceeds the scope of the article, in summary accessible web design is determined by several factors including the website’s code, accessibility and usability standards.   Accessible website is proactive website development that’s a smart and sensible technique of building a fully functional accessible site.

Avoid Confusion Regarding Accessible Web Design

There’s a huge cloud of misunderstanding that hangs over accessible web design.  It does not cost thousands of dollars nor does it hinder the aesthetics aspects of a website.  While the majority of web developers associate the term accessibility with abiding by guidelines to accommodate individuals with disabilities, the impacts far exceed the scope of the disability community.

Experts in website accessible argue that by developing an accessible site, not only does it attract visitors with disabilities in hopes of making a sell, but also catering to visitors that may be connecting via dial-up connections and other under-served individuals accessing the Internet.  Although there are a few differences between accessible and useable website design, there’s a line of creative design and tools that bridges the gap.

What to Know When Developing an Accessible Website?

The first and foremost thing to remember when developing an accessible site is that there’s absolutely no need to build it any different to accommodate potential visitors with disabilities.  Consider the following accessible website design tips to help in your efforts:

  • Use consistent layout and structure
  • Add alternative (ALT) text to images
  • Insert page headings
  • Use headings correctly
  • Allow for skip links
  • Link the words of specific content
  • Alert visitors when links are redirected
  • Use Title attributes with caution
  • Keep links underlined to retain link color
  • Label each field within a form

Conclusion:

Although there’s not nearly enough hype around accessible web design, unfortunately many companies promoting products and services online via websites are missing numerous opportunities to market effectively to the world’s largest minority.  Looking into the future, hopefully there’ll be a greater buzz around website accessibility and website owners will take heed.

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