Inclusivity is the buzzword of the day enveloping the world of design. When it comes to web designing, a high-quality user experience is now a “minimum entry“; websites need to also be accessible and inclusive. In fact, a website that is deemed as non-accessible excludes up to two in ten of the world’s population who is living with some form of disability.
A World Health Organisation report identifies over a billion disabled people, out of which 20% of these persons with disability live with “great functional difficulties in their day-to-day lives”. For example, more than 250 million people (representing more than 3% of the world’s population) are visually impaired or blind. Nearly half a billion people have various degrees of deafness or hearing loss - representing about 6% of the world’s population.
As an agency, we incorporate accessibility in our design thinking because we want customers accessing our clients‘ collateral to feel included. In fact, websites that do not meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) lose out on visibility, which leads to a opportunity costs in terms of web traffic and conversions. Accessible websites translate to better site performance.
What constitutes an accessible web experience?
Persons of disability who may land on your website include the visually impaired who rely on screen reading technology to dictate textual and visual content, those with motor disabilities and are unable to operate a mouse without difficulty, the deaf who require transcripts to comprehend web content, as well as those who face cognitive challenges like autism, dyslexia and memory loss.
For a start, in order to cater for persons with disability, your website will need to incorporate these elements, amongst others, to smoothen the web experience of persons with disabilities:
Visual legibility - ensure that there are sufficient colour contrasts throughout the site.
Simplicity and clarity in structuring information - ensure that your hierarchical headings are clear and your forms are well labelled. Users who are visually challenged use screen readers tat require critical page elements: link and button labels, image captions, precise titles and section headings, and clearly labeled web forms.
Navigation - ensure a keyboard-friendly navigation through your site.
Including image alt text, video and audio transcripts. These elements will allow sight-impaired users to understand the various elements on your site and also empowers search engines with the necessary context on ranking these elements.
How Google prioritises accessibility
You may already know by now that Google constantly refreshes its algorithms to better the web experience of users. Its current ranking algorithm will give priority to websites that are responsive, have healthy load times, and reflect visual stability. Google will rank your site based on these Core Web Vitals:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - this measures loading performance. To rank highly, your pages should have an LCP of within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. How long does it take for your largest piece of content to load?
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - this measures visual stability. Your pages should endeavour to be within a CLS of 0.1. Static layouts that remain intact while loading will receive high scores. This requires all text and multimedia elements to remain within their dimensions on the page. Do a page check - do you find items or text moving on the page without warning, or when you are about to interact with a page element like a button and because a sudden shift occurs, you click on something else?
Don’t leave accessibility to chance or as an afterthought
Making a website accessible can be a daunting task but it is doable. It requires us to be intentional as we execute our web design strategy.
If you are looking to revamp your website design or for an agency to look into these improving your site’s accessibility, reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright SYL+JAS (c) 2021. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or rewritten in any form without expressed permission from the agency.
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