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How can I make my website as accessible as possible?

Answered by: Dan Moore, web design expert

Making a website accessible is an important consideration, and in many countries there will be government legislation that you should look to follow.

As a general rule, you should ensure that you do not discriminate against any potential viewer of your website.

Therefore if you use images, you should always ensure that you have a descriptive alt tag in place, so those who cannot view images for any reason are not disadvantaged.

Think similarly with regard technologies you use on your site - do not have JavaScript or Flash that is essential to the page being displayed or interpreted correctly. Many people switch these technologies off.

Ensure that the page displays correctly on a variety of browsers and screen resolutions. Think carefully about your colour combinations - do not make text too light or small to read or against a background colour it will clash with.

If possible, allow your users to adjust the font sizes on your pages to match their personal preferences.

Ensure that your site can be navigated through both by use of the mouse and the keyboard. Therefore do not use JavaScript, for instance, to automatically jump to pages selected from a drop down menu else this makes keyboard navigation impossible for those who cannot use a mouse but rather tab or shift+tab their way through your pages.

The taxonomy or layout and structure of your page is also important. Try to use a clear and logical layout so people can find content intuitively without having to guess where you have decided to place each category of content on your site!

In general, try to rely on text for the majority of your page. This downloads the quickest and is most accessible to people, text to speech browsers and of course also search engines.

The more accessible a page is to the human eye, so it will be more accessible to search engine spiders when crawling your site. Therefore having an accessible site is good for your rankings as well as your audience.

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