Friday, February 24, 2006

Creating Accessible Web Sites

Many web designers and developers forget to consider how different disabilities might affect how a user sees or experiences a web site. Statistics show that 21% of the population has some kind of disability, whether it is visual impairment, hearing problems, or difficulty with motor skills. Imagine a colorblind person trying to read red text over a blue image, or, a person whose hand shakes attempting to navigate a complex dropdown menu.

It is so important that marketers consider all audiences when creating a web presence. Otherwise, the client might be missing out on almost a quarter of their target audience. Addressing the accessibility of your site also significantly increases both usability, and search engine results.

Whether you are creating a brand new web presence, or redesigning an existing site, consider these best practices:

1. Do not use color to make important distinctions.
2. Use sans serif and larger fonts for the visually impaired.
3. Use alt tags for images. (These are the little titles that show up when you hover your mouse over an image.)
4. Do not make references to the position on the page, i.e. “click the button below”.
5. Avoid using small graphics as buttons.
6. Do not use audio or video unless you provide a transcript for the non-sighted and hearing impaired.

Just by following these guidelines, you should see an increase in user response and satisfaction. For more information on web accessibility best practices, see the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative at: