Accessibility is an often overlooked part of web design, but it’s important. The greatest content in the world is useless if your website is difficult to navigate or completely inaccessible to some people. Fortunately, increasing accessibility isn’t costly or difficult, and these simple steps should help you get started.
#1 Compress images (and don’t use as many)
Images can really enrich a website. They’re attention-grabbing, colorful and, if used correctly, they can even help with layout and formatting. Large images are slow to load, though, and have a big impact on accessibility. Although internet access is becoming widespread and high speed internet more common, it’s not yet the norm. Many people around the world don’t have access to the same quick connections speeds that you do, so a website that takes a long time to load can be an obstacle to accessibility.
Try to keep images to a minimum and only use them where necessary, rather than as embellishments. Similarly, compressing images and ensuring that they’re no longer than 2,500px on the longest side ensures a more rapid load time. Most people will simply close a website if it appears to be stalling as it loads. Big images aren’t worth losing traffic over, so keep things small.
#2 Translate your content
Language is one of the biggest barriers to accessibility. In the global market, it makes little sense not to make your content available to as wide an audience as possible. Many web designers nowadays use translation management software to quickly and economically translate their content into another language. This software doesn’t just translate, but it localizes too, all the while preserving the original writing style.
Translation has lots of advantages even beyond accessibility. There are clear benefits to reaching a bigger audience. Having a website that’s multilingual means a far larger pool of potential traffic. Moreover, translation helps with SEO. It’s easy to incorporate relevant keywords in your own language, but by doing so in others you’ll be able to dramatically boost your search engine ranking around the world.
#3 Optimize for mobile
The smartphone boom means that more online traffic than ever comes from mobiles. That isn’t going to change, and there’s a real chance that mobile traffic will soon overtake desktop. Most websites simply aren’t prepared for that, though. They’re designed to be accessed from desktop only and their designs don’t translate well to smartphone screens. These sites might appear clunky, glitchy, and their formatting is likely to be a mess.
The easiest way to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile devices is to use a responsive theme.
These will adjust the website layout according to the device it’s being viewed on. A responsive theme will look totally different on a desktop to how it does on a mobile, and you won’t have to do a thing. Responsive themes are common, cheap and sometimes even free, so there’s no reason not to cater for the mobile market.