Access is not just ramps
Are you reading this website page comfortably? I hope so because that is one of the prime considerations we had when we designed it. Making sure people with impaired sight can use their preferred software to read a websites' words is good practise, but but there is much more to good quality accessible web design.
Keep things fat
Did you know that a thin line of words strung out across a wide screen is really hard to read? If you have even the smallest touch of dyslexia, or are merely a bit tired, the words can jumble before your eyes and you can lose the meaning of the sentence. We try and keep the lines to no more than twenty words.
People do not read a webpage the way they read a book. They scan the page first, taking in the subheadings and larger text and then hone in on the detail they want to read. Sensible headings that summarise the sense of a paragraph also improve readability.
Any screen you like
You should not have to use a specific device to look at a properly built website. No matter what you use the page should reorganise itself to adapt to your screen. Not merely to pass an arbitrary Google test, but to make sense to a phone user who has no mouse or a tablet user with both portrait and landscape options.
Alternative way to use ALT
All images on a webpage come with an "alt tag" a small piece of code in the back of the page that can be read by a screen reader. They are designed so that if an image is portraying an essential piece of information, such as a link or a diagram, a web site visitor with impaired sight can hear what the image is about. Some designers put an alt tag on every single image, even the little smiley face they use for every bullet point. Imagine the experience of the site visitor hearing the words "Little smiley face" seventeen times on one page? We use alt tags considerately, if the image is just eye candy we keep it silent.
Rich media is all the rage
More and more people have cameras and videos, and a short YouTube video is a great way of getting a message across. For instance, this video explains furniture for wheelchair users far better than words can.
However, we have to use video in moderation and be aware that whilst they can make information more accessible to some, at the same time it might be making it less accessible to others.
Keep us up to scratch
Are you having any problems with this website? Is it effortless to move around the site, can you find what you need? Are we using too much jargon, or is the font annoying? Email me and tell me. I can fix it!
About the author
8th March 2016
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