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Accessible Web Content: How to Make Your Website More Visitor-Friendly

Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Around one billion people around the world experience some form of disability. This means that it’s quite likely that many people may experience barriers when attempting to visit your website.

These barriers not only getting in the way of you connecting with your audience but they also completely derail your chance at meeting your visitors’ needs, thereby pushing them off your site and into your competitors’ arms.

Your website’s purpose is to help your ideal customers—all of them. By focusing on website accessibility within your content, you’ll be able to help more customers, thereby expanding your reach and broadening your impact.

“The one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?”
– Steve Krug

What Does it Mean to Be Accessible?

According to Merriam Webster, the word accessible means “capable of being reached” or “capable of being used or seen, understood or appreciated.” To be accessible online, you must write your website content in a way that truly speaks to any individual, regardless of disability.

A disability is a “physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions.” Such disabilities affect many areas of an individual’s life, including their:

  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Thinking
  • Movement
  • Communication
  • Mental health
  • Relationships

When writing content for the web, it’s important to view disability as anything that causes an individual any level of difficulty when performing any task. Your goal is to make your content as accessible—as usable—for as many individuals as possible.

8 Tips for Writing Accessible Website Content

1. Use Descriptive Page Titles

Each page on your website should have a descriptive and informative title. This will help your visitors find the information they’re looking for simply and quickly. For example, avoid vague page titles such as “Learn More.” Informative page titles are especially important for individuals using screen readers to consume your content.

2. Write Simply

Using big words and industry jargon-filled phrases don’t enhance your image. Instead, they provide a barrier between your content and your visitor’s understanding of it. To write simply:

  • Use sentences that are 20 words or less
  • Create paragraphs that include no more than four sentences
  • Avoid industry jargon that only experts in your field understand

A good way to ensure your content is easy to read is to use a tool such as Hemingway to check your readability scores. Aim to keep your writing at or below an 8th-grade reading level to reach a broader range of your audience.

3. Use Headings

Use descriptive section headings throughout your body text to separate information. The headings should clearly describe the content below them. Using headings makes your content easier to skim and builds in extra whitespace to give the eyes a rest.

While the use of headings helps every visitor to your site, individuals using screen readers find them especially useful, as they use headings to find the content they’re looking for, saving them a lot of time and hassle.

4. Use the Right Punctuation

Screen readers and other accessibility tools don’t read text color. They also don’t communicate bold or italic font style. When you need to emphasize a sentence, be sure to use the correct punctuation such as an exclamation or question mark. Screen readers will automatically change the tone of the sentence to convey the message.

5. Give Images Purpose

Does your website content need that stock photo to make it easier to understand? If not, get rid of it. Make sure each image you place in your content, both on webpages and your blog, have a purpose.

For images that do have a purpose, use alt text (alternative text) to describe what’s happening in the photo. This will help screen readers and other tools communicate the image correctly to your visitors. For images that simply enhance your design, leave the alt text blank.

6. Write Descriptive Links

When you insert hyperlinks into your content, make sure they explain what the visitor will find when they follow them. Screen readers and other tools often read links by themselves, without context. Avoid using “click here” or “learn more” for link text.

7. Use Contrasting Colors & Large Fonts

Aim for high contrasting background and font colors that make your content easy to read. For example, avoid using red text on a black background. Also, consider both mobile and desktop use of your site when choosing font size. For instance, the best font size for websites when viewing them on mobile devices is 16px. You’ll want larger font sizes for headings and page titles.

8. Provide Instructions

When including forms on your website such as a contact form, give your visitors input requirements. For example, identify the proper phone number format in the phone number field. If a visitor doesn’t input the information correctly, use descriptive error messages to describe the problem and how to fix it.

Increase Your Website’s Accessibility With Our Visitor-Friendly Content Checklist

Writing accessible website content ensures more of your visitors can understand what you have to say. To help you, we’ve put together a checklist you can use along your web content creation journey.

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Start Creating Content That Everyone Can Connect With

The bottom line is this: without accessible content, you run the risk of failing to connect with a large part of your audience. Lack of connection equals lack of conversion. To avoid this, follow the set of rules above when you create each piece of content you create, ensuring your website’s as accessible as possible for all.

Want to know more about website accessibility and writing accessible website copy? Reach out to us today.

Erin Larson