Having an inclusive brand means removing any obstacles for any type of person to be able to work with you.
It is something that we will never get perfect as business owners and designers, but we need to be consistently working at to do better. So let’s start with your website…
3 reasons why you need to make your website more accessible:
1 – To Not Exclude Anyone
The first and biggest benefit of having an accessible website is knowing that you’re not excluding anyone. You’re able to connect with more people, widen your potential customers and grow your reputation as an inclusive brand.
2 – To Stay Competitive
70% of millennial buyers take into consideration how inclusive a brand is in their buying decision. So if you want to continue being a competitive brand then nurturing an environment of accessibility and inclusivity is non-negotiable.
3 – To Improve Your Google Ranking
If those weren’t enough reason for you, how about improving your Google ranking. Several accessibility feature, such as image alt tags and transcripts for video, are ranking factors in Google – so it’s a win-win for both you and your customers.
So where do you start?
Check your readability
It is essential that your website is optimised for screen readers, so that visually impaired users can access and interact with your content. Here are some ways small changes you can make to improve readability:
- Add images Alt Text to images
- Keep contrast sensitivity in mind – use thicker texts with a high colour contract to the background colour.
- Allow users to enlarge font size
- Underline URL text links and use descriptive URL links that provide users with proper context of where the link will take them.
The WordPress Accessibility Helper Plugin is a great way to implement these, as it also offers users more control over additional features such as keyboard navigation. But there are lots of other resources out there to help you test and optimise your website for readability.
Check your media
If you’re using videos, then make sure to always include subtitles and if possible try to also provide a video transcript to make them accessible to screen readers. You could even branch out into different media formats, like podcasts for example. Using a wide variety of media formats also helps those who have difficulty connecting and digesting information in certain formats and will only help to increase your connections with a wider audience.
Check your language
The language that we use matters, there are 2 things to consider when writing your website copy:
- Simplify the language that you use
Complex words and phrases can make your content inaccessible to those with reading difficulties, try simplifying things and reducing your text.
2. Choose your words carefully
The words we use matter, and if you’re not careful the language that you use can alienate groups of people. Be careful not to use language that excludes people or perpetuates stereotypes. For example, using the word ‘crazy’ perpetuates negative stereotypes around mental health. Or including a question on gender in a form but only offering binary options.
This is a hard one, and we’re going to get it wrong, but we can keep pushing to do better!
Check your speed
Not everyone has access to high speed internet, so by using smaller images and media those with slower internet speeds are still able to access your site.
This is something not everyone thinks about, myself included. I only recently became aware of this at a workshop held by Rhodesia Jackson on Inclusivity For Designers. Which leads me nicely to the last and most important point…
The most important way to make your brand more inclusive and your website more accessible is to keep listening and learning from those whose experiences differ from ours.
We’re not going to get it right, and that’s ok but we have to admit when we make mistakes and keep doing better.