Why Website Accessibility Is More Important Than Ever

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UI/UX Design Lead
Apr 9, 2021

How a user experiences your site is even more important than how aesthetically pleasing it is. And if your website is not accessible by all site visitors, then you’re in danger of getting dinged by Google and dropped by users. It could also, quite literally, cost you in both lawyers fees and government fines. Website inaccessibility is no joke.

Fortunately, the ADA and the Web Accessibility Initiative offer methods for reviewing your site and making sure it’s up to code. Take a look at why website accessibility is so important and how you can keep your site in check.

ADA Compliance: An Overview 

The ADA (or American with Disabilities Act) has set up standards for accessible design, which says that all electronic and information technology should be accessible to people with disabilities. 

These standards apply to:

  • Private employers with 15 or more employees
  • Businesses operating for the public’s benefit
  • All state and local government agencies

ADA compliance is vital to ensuring all users can access your site and obtain content on it. In addition, being proactive with website accessibility can help your business stay ahead of the curve and emphasize its commitment to serving everyone — no exclusions.

As a reminder, failing to implement accessibility best practices on your website can also open you up to potential discrimination lawsuits and fines. The time and investment it will take to make these changes are far less than the fees and fines you would be on the hook for if complaints are made against your site and your company.

How to Comply with Website Accessibility Guidelines

While there is no spelled-out web accessibility law for private entities at this time, your best bet is to make sure your website meets as many Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as possible. Outlined by the Web Accessibility Initiative, WCAG 2.0 AA (38 success criteria) and WCAG 2.1 AA (50 success criteria) are the most-adhered to sets of technical standards. 

Be forewarned: this is a time-consuming and tedious process. There are quick-fix ADA compliance tools advertised across every search engine at this point, but don’t cut corners by relying on these automated scans, which can gloss over critical issues and tell only a part of your site’s story.

By partnering with a St. Louis web design team like ours at Integrity, we’ll make the journey to having a more accessible and compliant website as smooth and painless as possible.

We’ll first begin with a technical and user experience audit of your site, which will reveal any ADA compliance gaps or errors that need to be solved. Then our team of UI/UX designers and web developers will create a strategy for addressing these website accessibility issues. It may require an extensive redesign or may simply be a matter of tackling a handful of errors.

A Website Accessibility Checklist

Here is a list of the most common website accessibility items. Some of these are more technical in nature, others more user experience-based. Regardless, these ADA compliance items should be reviewed and addressed by a team of professionals to make sure your business is staying within the standards.

Media (Images, Videos and Audio)

  • Add alt text to images — this helps signal to device readers what an image is about
  • Use captions for images and videos to better describe what is being displayed
  • Provide audio descriptions, transcript and closed captions when applicable
  • Avoid using images that feature text 
  • All audio must be able to be stopped, paused or muted

Text and Colors

  • Maintain a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 and do not rely on color alone to convey information (For example: a warning on a form must have a label or description of some kind instead of just highlighting the field red)
  • Allow users to resize text up to 200% without negatively affecting the site 

User Experience

  • Provide multiple navigational ways to reach a page 
  • Ensure your main navigation is in the same place on every page 
  • Use headings and labels to describe sections
  • Code them accurately and with the correct website structure 
  • All pages must have descriptive headings 
  • Present content in a meaningful order 
  • Use consistent actions/identifications across the site, such as the same styles for buttons, links, etc. 
  • Provide error suggestions to help fix issues on forms 
  • Provide clear labels/instructions for all form fields 
  • Implement error prevention notices (For example: Utilize confirmation pages, ability to cancel orders, etc.)
  • All functions should be accessible via a keyboard and cannot trap users on any particular part of the website 

Animation and Interactive Components

  • Incorporate no more than three flashes in a one-second period (any animation, etc. can flash more than three times) 
  • Use focus states

Back-end Build

  • Utilize language attributes in your HTML, which identifies the language of text content on your website 
  • Also, make sure to identify the site’s language in the header code
  • Use an HTML parser to ensure all code is clean and free of any errors 

Website Accessibility: An Ongoing Process

If you’re overwhelmed, don’t worry! Turning your website into something that’s accessible by all doesn’t happen overnight. 

A UI/UX web design team will not only evaluate what website accessibility errors on your site are most in need of updating but will also continuously monitor your site to ensure it stays up to date. Whether best practices shift or your site is simply getting older, you won’t have to wonder if your website is where it should be. 

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Looking for a St. Louis web design team that can make your site compliant, functional and beautiful? Integrity’s full-service design/build agency is here to help. Drop us a line today.

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