The Core Principles of Accessible Website Design
Everyone has experienced the kind of website that makes you wonder what on earth its developers were thinking. Sites that are impossible to navigate on a mobile device, horrendous font choices you can hardly read and navigation systems that are complex simply for the sake of it – all surprisingly commonplace, even today.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the fundamentals of good web design have never changed. At the core of every outstanding website lies one characteristic of greater importance than any other: Accessibility.
In a nutshell, accessibility refers to how well a website is able to do its job. It concerns all aspects of web design that enable the visitor to achieve their intended outcome as quickly and easily as possible.
Now more than ever, simple yet effective websites are the preferred choice for most web users by a considerable margin. There’s a time and a place for flamboyance, but simplicity rules the roost more often than not.
Four Steps to Improved Website Accessibility
Achieving true accessibility does not have to be difficult. As long as your website is pleasant to look at and does what it is supposed to do, you are already half way there.
The four core principles of accessible web design remain the same across almost all types of websites:
- Presentation of Information – This means determining the most appropriate way to present information to visitors. Information can be presented in a variety of ways – the appropriateness of each option will be determined by the audience you are targeting and the products or services you are offering.
- Simplified Navigation – It should be quick and easy to reach any part of your website from any other part of your website at the touch of a button. Your navigation system should be as straightforward and easy to use as possible, even for those with little experience navigating websites.
- Flawless Functionality – This refers to all aspects of your website’s performance in general, covering things like page loading times, broken links and so on. A website can only be considered truly accessible if it functions flawlessly at all times, irrespective of traffic volumes.
- Broad Adaptiveness – Your website should be compatible with the widest possible range of devices and assistive tools, which should be able to understand your website in its entirety and present all key information, features and functionalities clearly to the respective visitor.
Putting each of the above principles to work could mean performing a major overhaul but could nonetheless drive improved results. In addition, none of the steps that need to be taken to create a truly accessible website are beyond the capabilities of the average online business owner.
Even if external support is called for, it is a relatively simple project – particularly when compared to designing and developing a more complex website from scratch.