An essential aspect of designing a website is to remember not all visitors have the same potential to navigate a site. Simply using a mouse or reading through web pages must not be taken for granted. Accessibility, in simple terms, means the ability to access and utilise something fully.
Regarding WordPress accessibility, optimisation becomes extremely crucial. More people are likely to use an accessible site, meaning more visitors. A category of visitors is deterred from visiting a site when accessibility is not prioritised.
Let’s understand why WordPress accessibility matters and how you can work on it.
Why Website Accessibility Matters
Building a website comes with a lot of thinking. From navigation and design to content, every area needs adequate attention. And with so many things going on, it is not surprising to forget about the different visitors landing on the site.
A website with basic capabilities may not be able to cater to the diverse range of audiences available. Individuals with physical or mental impairments may not access a site they could otherwise benefit from. For instance, visitors who find using a mouse and keyboard challenging may struggle to use a site with typical navigation. Moreover, accessibility also helps to improve your website traffic.
It is the responsibility of the WordPress development team to build an accessible site. It will ensure different categories of visitors landing on your site can interact fully, irrespective of their impairment.
How To Make An Accessible WordPress Site
If you are looking to create a WordPress website, ensure to make it accessible from the very first step. Accessibility is not a task to leave at the project’s end. It must be a priority and should be initiated right from the beginning. Make it a continuous goal from the time your site is launched. Know that there is no single checklist to guarantee an accessible site. A solid combination of theme, plugins, and content can do a remarkable job.
Here are some of the top practices for an accessible site.
An Accessibility-Ready Theme
Various themes are available, but some can be complex for specially-abled people. Considering an accessibility-ready theme will be beneficial. Several designs have been checked by Theme Review Team and meet the basic requirements of an accessible design. However, remember to test it yourself to be entirely confident. There are about 92 free themes listed by the WordPress accessibility team, making WordPress a perfect choice for businesses.
Plugins allow you to add more functionality to your WordPress site. Different plugins are available – one that will enable you to create an accessible site, and the other will help you transform an existing one into an accessible site. You can also use these plugins to create interactive elements like quizzes or sliders.
Ensure all the images on the site are accessible to different users. Some visitors may use assistive technology if unable to see the image visually. Attach alt text or a written description to an image. People who cannot see the image can use screen readers to read the description. The descriptions do not have to be simply about the image or infographics. It can be used to communicate anything within the context of the content. It is best to keep them short and simple.
Fonts And Colours
These are the top two components that strengthen the visual appeal of a site. Use fonts and colour palettes that are easy to read and pay attention to. Ensure correct text darkness and background lightness for enhanced readability. When you see an error message while working on the block editor, know it is because of poor colour contrast. You can use a free contrast checker to determine the right colours.
Visitors should be able to interact with your site. A few interactive elements besides text and images are forms, menus, buttons, and videos. Ensure the interactive elements can easily be identified and be used via keyboard too. The appearance of the buttons and links must change upon focus, hover, and click. Clear and consistent navigation must be the goal when designing an accessible WordPress site.
Easily Clickable CTA
You can add Call-To-Action buttons via Buttons Block on your web page. Those creating their own CTA elements must ensure they must be wide enough and easily clickable. The same must be kept in mind for text links. It is because clicking a linked hashtag becomes more difficult on a small screen.
Testing WordPress Site Accessibility
Testing is a vital part of site accessibility. Both manual and automated tests will help you determine if all the bases are covered.
Real humans must test the site because WordPress accessibility concerns real human cases. Here are a few ways to check the accessibility of a site.
- Try ditching the mouse and using the keyboard to navigate the website. It includes going from one page to another, accessing menus, scrolling between different sections, etc.
- Use a screen reader to understand it from the viewpoint of someone with low visibility. Test and review if the content read out loud is clear and smooth.
- Zoom your site to 200% and see if you can still navigate the settings. Does the content cuts off or disappear?
- Spend time checking if the interactive elements are working fine. Do links and buttons have required focus? Will a visitor be able to interact if all the images disappear? Will the usability be impacted if all the colours turn black and white?
Your site should be such that the essential parts are intact, even if the decorative elements get affected.
Automated tests and evaluations will help if you are new to website accessibility. An automated test usually identifies empty links, poor colour contrast, missing alt text, etc. These tests can be performed to list down the problems and fix them. Automated tests can track down code-based errors and address them accordingly.
Using the internet is as easy as breathing for some of us, but it is different for everyone. Several physical and mental challenges can make interacting with even a simple website challenging. Everyone must have the freedom to access informational or entertainment-based data. Your site must meet the standards set for web equity. Therefore, build an accessible site so that more and more people can benefit.