How accessible is your website?

Are you losing out on sales because your site is not accessible to some people?

Something that gets overlooked — a LOT — by the hippest, coolest, most stylish web designers out there, is the importance of making your website accessible to everyone. Not just to those eagle-eyed 20somethings who can read 8 point type from across the room (sigh), but to the people who use Screen Readers, or people who require mouse-free surfing options — or even those of us who have to pull out reading glasses when we’re doing a little surfing.

Photo by Flickr User Kumanu, Some Rights Reserved

Photo by Flickr User Kumanu, Some Rights Reserved

The thing about those eagle-eyed 20somethings is that they’re not too likely to think “hmm, would a baby boomer have problems reading this incredibly tiny, light gray text on a white background?”

It’s tempting to blame that on the selfishness of youth, but unfortunately… we all do it.

If you’ve never actually had to navigate a website using a single button device (commonly used by people who do not have complete use of their arms or hands, for example), you might not realize just how annoying it is to try and deal with a long list of links. Or, if you’ve never listened to a Screen Reader you might not realize how bad it is to cram whole paragraphs into your image alt text (which you should NEVER do).

So we were thrilled to discover Access Keys. This British site is packed with valuable links and ideas, including the free AccessColor tool, which can tell you if your site is too hard to read because the text and background colors are too similar. Here’s an example of the difference between high and low contrast:

Low contrast versus high contrast

Low contrast versus high contrast

The top question is much, much harder to read just because it’s too similar to the background color.

Another accessibility issue worth considering is the different way that people with color blindness will view your site — and we’re talking over 8% of the population, mostly males.¬†For example, a green background with orange text would be really high contrast to someone with normal vision, but would just look like a brownish mush to someone with the most common kind of color blindness.

So how are you supposed to see things the way a color-blind person does? Another free tool to the rescue! Vischeck analyzes your website and then shows it to you as a color blind person would see it. It’s pretty amazing!

Think a little about who’s using your site. Is there something you could be doing that would make it easier for them to buy from you? If you’re not doing it, you’re leaving money on the table.

Man in wheelchair image by Flickr user Kumaru

Comments

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