By Sam O’Brien, Chief Marketing Officer, Affise
Since the national lockdown, online shopping has moved from being an occasional luxury to an absolute necessity. Thousands of people are still struggling to leave their homes to complete basic tasks such as getting groceries or purchasing some new shoes, as their immune systems are compromised and shops are too risky.
“Ever since wearing a mask stopped being mandatory in indoor spaces, ‘shielders’ have expressed their concerns about how these new rules will have an impact on their lives. Due to this, it is imperative that every existing website is edited to be as user-friendly as possible, and every new brand makes the effort to be inclusive – considering people with sight loss, mobility issues, and even colour-blindness.”
1. Include a basic colour-scheme
Relying on colours to convey your message is a recipe for disaster, as approximately 3 million people in the UK suffer from colour-blindness. This would mean that having a very busy site with many different hues would make viewing stressful or even impossible for someone with colour-blindness, which is why it is always better to stick to a neutral palette.
2. Utilise voice assistance
In 2021, it was revealed that voice assistants were in half of the homes in the UK. Extremely helpful for people with sight loss, devices such as Amazon’s Alexa allow people with impaired vision to navigate websites without the burden of small text. With so many options available when it comes to adding voice assistants to new websites, it has never been easier to make internet exploring effortless for people with visual impairments.
3. Make site navigatable with keyboard shortcuts
Many people, especially senior citizens, can be prone to arthritic pain in their hands, making movement very difficult. Because of this, using a track-pad or a mouse could be out of the question, making it crucial that your site can be navigated using the arrow keys alone.
4. Keep things short and snappy
Not everybody is a big fan of reading, and it is thought that around 6.3 million people in the UK have dyslexia. With this in mind, it is very important that you keep text on your main landing page to a minimum where possible, avoiding very long sentences. If somebody loses interest or is unable to make sense of your site, they are guaranteed to click away, so try your best to keep everybody interested.
5. Avoid moving graphics
It can be tempting to incorporate different graphics or moving designs into your website, as they can add an element of excitement and an artistic flair. However, despite this, moving images can be very difficult for people with vision impairment to see, and could make site navigation extremely difficult.
6. Utilise ‘alt’ text
It is essential to never forget to keep alt text as detailed as possible, in order to offer an engaging experience for people using screen readers. If alt text is over-simplified, it could mean that a visually-impaired person would not be able to visualise the image on the screen, which could impact whether they want to purchase a product or not.
7. Make sure links are descriptive
This point is, once again, helpful when considering people using screen readers. If you are embedding a link to a different page into a sentence, simply adding ‘click here’ could be confusing to somebody that is relying on sound to navigate the page. Not only does this pose the risk of somebody not knowing where to press ‘Enter’, but ‘click here’ also lacks context.
Instead, add something like ‘to find out more about this handbag, see the drop-down menu.’ This highlights where you are supposed to click, as well as what to expect once you leave the current page.
8. Add the option to enlarge text on-screen
Very small text can be off-putting at the best of times, but especially if you struggle visually. Due to this, it is important to add the option to enlarge on-screen text, as well as ensuring that CTA (call to action) options are more noticeable than the rest of the information.
9. Consider contrast sensitivity
If you suffer from cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma, it can make your eyes extremely sensitive to colour contrasts on a screen. Even if you had a particular colour combination in mind, it is best to keep things classic and simple, with themes such as black and white or black and yellow.
If the font colour is too similar to that of the background, somebody with contrast sensitivity is likely to click away. Test out an array of themes before deciding on the most accessible one.
10. Include captions in videos
Videos are a great way of enhancing the user experience for people that are not visually impaired, but what about people that are hard of hearing? If your main strategy is to utilise video and audio to get your message across, somebody that struggles to hear could end up feeling isolated and click away. Because of this, it is always crucial to include subtitles, wherever they are necessary.
Editor’s note: Canada has been addressing website accessibility and there are guidelines available to ensure you’re in compliance.
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