When launching a WordPress, it’s important you cater to all site visitors.
Remember, things like being able to see the screen, move the mouse, or listen to video content doesn’t come easily to everyone. In fact, the National Service Inclusion Project estimates that 48.9 million people of people in the United States alone have a disability. And if your client has a global audience, you can expect that number to be much higher.
There’s a lot that goes into developing a website from the ground up. Things like web design, layout, content, and navigation are usually the focal points.
Because of this, it’s easy to lose sight of your diverse target audience. However, not creating an accessible website not only affects your ability to convert site visitors and generate revenue, it makes for a poor user experience for those that need web accessibility.
Whether you’re building a blog, an online businesses, or an eCommerce shop, it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone that visits your website can do so with ease. That’s why today we’re going to share with you a little bit about web accessibility and how to make your WordPress site accessible.
What Is Website Accessibility and Why Does It Matter?
Website accessibility is the concept that people with disabilities, whether short-term or permanent, should be able to browse, interact, and navigate the internet without any issue.
A short-term disability is a mental or physical condition that limits your movements, senses, or ability to participate in certain activities. It is not, however, going to last forever.
On the other hand, a permanent disability is a mental or physical condition that is expected to last the rest of your life, and limits your movements, senses, or ability to participate in certain activities – including surfing the internet.
Some of the most common disabilities that affect a person’s ability to use the internet include:
- Cognitive: those with cognitive issues such as dyslexia may not be able to read a site’s written content easily.
- Physical: those facing physical challenges related to age, injury, or illness may have trouble clicking small buttons or navigating menu items using a mouse.
- Auditory: those with hearing impairments may not be able to enjoy a site’s video content or audio clips.
- Visual: those with visual impairments may have trouble seeing colors and contrast, and might even need to use a screen reader to help them understand a site’s written content.
Take a look at this example:
Between the small font, blinking lights, dark background, and non-intuitive navigation, this site is just one example of many that make it hard for those with disabilities to view and buy what they want online.
There are many instances that create a barrier between people and the internet. And as a website owner, it’s your job to break through those barriers in the best way possible by creating an accessible website that everyone can enjoy.
So, let’s take a look at how to make your WordPress website accessible.
How to Make Your WordPress Site Accessible
1. Test Your Site’s Current Accessibility
If you want to make your WordPress site accessible, you’re going to need a starting point. After all, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.
Using a tool like Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE), you’ll be able to gauge how accessible your WordPress site is right now so you can then formulate a plan to make it better. Just enter your site’s URL and let WAVE evaluate its accessibility.
You’ll see different color icons alerting you to places where your site is okay, needs improvement, or has an accessibility error. If you click on the icon, you’ll get a detailed description of the issue so you can fix what needs fixing.
2. Use an Accessible-Ready Theme
If you want to start out on the right foot from the start, it’s a good idea to use an accessible-ready WordPress theme.
The best way to get a truly web accessible WordPress theme is to browse the WordPress Repository. The theme review team at WordPress thoroughly screens and vets all themes before adding them to the Repository for certain criteria, including website accessibility.
In addition, you can always use the Feature Filter and search for themes specifically labeled as accessible-ready.
If you need a more advanced WordPress theme, you can also filter themes in reliable marketplaces like ThemeForest to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Using an accessible-ready theme will make sure things like headers, color schemes, control semantics, keyboard navigation, link styling, and more will be suitable for all people, regardless of their disability.
3. Use a WordPress Accessibility Plugin
Do you need to use a theme that isn’t labeled “accessible-ready?”
There are a few helpful WordPress plugins in the market that will help you make your WordPress site accessible so you don’t have to change themes or code anything:
- WP Accessibility: fix font sizes and colors, add skip to content links, add post titles to read more links, and add labels to form fields if missing.
- WP Accessibility Helper: give site visitors the ability to change font sizes and colors to their liking, underline or highlight links, grayscale images, change keyboard navigation, and use the built-in DOM scanner to check for accessibility errors.
- One Click Accessibility: resize fonts, grayscale images, balance negative contrast, use readable fonts, underline hyperlinks, add skip to content links, and link to sitemap, feedback, and help pages.
4. Make Your Site Keyboard-Friendly
For your WordPress website to be accessible, it must work without the use of a mouse. That means your site visitors should be able to tab through the following:
- Menu items
- Form fields
To test this, just go to your website and without using your mouse, try to navigate the content using the Tab button. If you’re not sure what to look for, head on over to WordPress.org and click Tab to navigate the content. You’ll see a dotted box form around each menu item you tab to.
5. Add Alt Text to All Images
You should know by now that adding alt text to your site’s images is good for SEO. After all, alt text gives crawlers and understanding of what the image is so they can rank you in the most relevant search results.
But more than that, alt images give those with disabilities a way to “read” your images if they have trouble seeing or distinguishing between colors. In fact, most screen readers detect alt text in images. This is just another reason why using keywords and descriptive alt text, as opposed to 378image.png is crucial to having an accessible WordPress website.
6. Choose Colors Carefully
The color schemes you use on your website are not just for branding purposes. The fact that some people are color blind or have limited sight plays a role in making your site accessible.
And that means using the right colors and contrast.
The most important thing to remember is that the written text on your site should clearly stand out from the background color.
Notice how hard it is for you to read the text in the first image? And you might not even have a disability. Imagine how hard it would be for someone who has trouble seeing to read this.
You also want to avoid clashing color schemes that are perhaps easy to see, but may induce eye strain (like this awful album cover does). For help with balancing color contrast, use a tool like Contrast Checker:
Simply enter the color scheme you want to use on your website and see if it passes accessibility requirements. And don’t worry, if it doesn’t it will be clear to you:
Making sure that everyone that visits your website able to enjoy all the content you have available is paramount to your success as a blogger, online business, or eCommerce shop owner. After all, creating an inclusive website is not only the right thing to do, it will help you grow your business, secure a bigger following, and generate you more profit.
And don’t forget, with a bigger following comes more site traffic and sales transactions. If you’re looking for services to help you scale and protect your growing website, contact us as Scale Dynamix. We offer website owners a highly scalable platform, automatic backups, built-in security measures, and expert support to help you expand without a problem.