Who should web design be accessible for?

Ideally, websites should be made in a way that suits all users’ needs. Websites can’t be 100 percent accessible. There are so many individual needs and preferences that this would be impossible, but it’s important to consider varying disabilities, cultural diversity, and other factors that may impact the way individuals interact with websites.

It’s important to make sure your web design is inclusive because everyone deserves the ability to enjoy using the internet with ease, but it is great for business, too. Accessible sites often rank better in SERPs, and naturally, they make it possible to reach customers you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Appealing to different cultures

You might notice you’re doing very well getting customers from a specific country or region but failing to appeal to other countries or regions. It’s pretty hard to avoid this issue. Since culture varies widely globally, there’s no way to appeal to all cultural preferences at once. Factors that may seem insignificant, like the colour scheme you use, might be enough to impact the way a website is perceived across varying cultures.

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory gives insight into the six different factors that impact how different cultures respond to communications, ranging from femininity vs. masculinity to indulgence. These insights might help you better understand the markets you want to appeal to.

If it’s possible to make tailored landing pages for your different markets, you’ll probably have the best luck doing that. If that’s not possible, it’s good to choose design and language that is more universally accepted. Once your site is live, the only way to know for sure if your web design, graphics, images, and content are resonating with your website visitors is by analysing the data from your visitors.

Varying disabilities

Some common access needs you should consider when creating a new website or upgrading your current site include:

  • Colour blindness
  • Hearing loss or other auditory issues
  • Cognitive impairment or cognitive processing
  • Neurological disabilities (e.g. epilepsy)
  • Physical disabilities and limitations

Other factors

Temporary impairments, or factors like ageing, might impact the way people use websites. Sometimes, accessibility might have nothing to do with a person’s limitation and simply relate to external factors like internet speed, harsh lighting, or the way websites display on different devices.

Your basic accessible web design checklist

There are lots of ways you can improve the accessibility of your website. It would be impossible to include a full list of accessibility considerations in a single blog post, but we want to make sure you understand a good place to start. We’ve put together a simple checklist to help you get started on making more accessible websites.

  1. Use a screen reader. This will help you check what might need to be added for individuals who use screen readers.
  2. Consider your content. Is it written in plain language and easy to understand?
  3. Check your website for videos. Ensure videos are captioned.
  4. Make sure you’re using descriptive alt text and file names.
  5. Ensure the buttons on your page, have alt text, too!
  6. Check your font and text size. Choose text that is large, clear, and easy to read.
  7. Take a look at the colours, graphics, and images you’re using. They should be high contrast.
  8. Check that all of your pages include titles and heading tags.
  9. Make sure your site is easily navigated on a phone, tablet, and laptop.
  10. Optimise your site for voice search.
  11. Congratulate yourself on a good job. And when you’re ready, move on to a full, comprehensive evaluation of your website’s accessibility and make continued improvements at your own pace. You can take advantage of free tools that help you address potential accessibility concerns before they reach your users. Other tools are great for auditing your current content.

Looking to upgrade your website?

If you want to make your website more user-friendly and more accessible, we’re here to help. Whether you’re concerned with general user experience, wanting to make your site more accessible, or wanting to nail down your web design for a specific culturally diverse market, we can help. Get in contact with the Digital Bridge team at hello@digitalbridge.com.au or +613 8658 2434.