Web accessibility – baking inclusivity into your web design projects

Published by Stella Thomas  on 10th December 2020

When you’re building a new website for your business, it’s easy to get caught up in obvious elements like perfecting your site navigation, imagery and copy. At Pillory Barn, we love helping our clients create websites that look beautiful and work seamlessly – and that’s why we bring an extra element to the table, right from the start, one you might not have considered: accessibility.

Unless you have a disability, you might have never considered web accessibility, but there are plenty of reasons a website can fail to be functional for all users. By keeping accessibility front of mind during design and development phases, you can ensure that more users are able to experience your website in an unobtrusive way.

So what is web accessibility?

When a website is thoughtfully designed so that it is accessible and inclusive for everyone, it meets an accessibility standard. This covers disabilities that could impact how a user interacts with the site, including auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual. Your website should also be user-friendly for older people too.

Pillory Barn adheres to the WCAG 2.1 AA standard, which means we go above and beyond to make sure that the sites we build are user-friendly for as many people as possible. There are four broad categories we consider: the site should be perceivable, understandable, operable and robust.

Amongst other features, that means:

  • All images should have descriptive alternative text
  • All videos have an option for subtitles and captions
  • Choosing colours that are easy for everyone to identify, especially for text
  • Data capture forms help users to input information incorrectly
  • Pages can be navigated using just a keyboard if necessary
  • Limiting and controlling any flashing content
  • Building sites that are assistive-technology friendly – this means tools like screen readers.

Left: Folkestone and Hythe https://www.folkestoneandhythe.co.uk/

Right: South East Local Enterprise Partnership https://www.southeastlep.com/

Why is it important?

Good web design is about making sure that the user has an easy, informative, enjoyable experience on your site – accessibility is simply the practice of applying good web design for every potential user. Accessibility is one of those things that until you speak to someone directly affected, it can be hard to understand its importance, but once you do, a world of frustrations can open up.

By listening to the feedback available from users with different needs, we can adjust and add in features that don’t negatively affect an individual, but can make the world of difference for certain users.

A good example is dyslexia and colour blindness. Both are common conditions and both can make reading a webpage challenging. Certain fonts make it difficult for people with dyslexia to read a block of text, while coloured writing on a coloured background can make your copy literally invisible to people with certain forms of colour blindness.

These are both distinctions you’d be forgiven for not thinking about, but by bearing them in mind as you’re making initial design decisions for your new website, can make a huge difference to the user experience.

Left: Kent Fire and Rescue Service Brand Portal https://www.kfrsbrand.online/

Right: Strode Park Foundation https://www.strodepark.org.uk/

Leading by example

At Pillory Barn, we’re communicators and we strive to create engaging content. That’s why accessibility has been at the heart of all our design and web development projects over the last couple of years; by being inclusive, thoughtful and kind, we encourage engagement from everyone.

While our clients might not initially consider accessibility in their plans, it’s our job to bring the subject to the table and we do that by baking it into the foundations of our website projects. The audit results and feedback we’ve received from clients is always positive!

After all, every engaged user is a win, and we’re determined to help bring you your next customer, supporter or new hire – and there’s every chance they could find you through the help of a subtitled video or screen reader.

If you would like discuss accessibility for your website, please get in touch with the digital team at Pillory Barn who would be happy to provide advice.

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