One of the earliest steps in building a website is identifying your target audience. It’s important to know who you’re designing for to deliver quality web pages that can get users to convert.

Buyer personas help you understand your ideal customers. These profiles contain user demographics, professional information, fears, goals, preferences, and more. Basically, they tell you who your consumers are, what they need, and how they move online.

laptop with a graph

Creating buyer personas before proceeding with web development is a great practice. This way, you have a good grasp of what colors to use, how to word your messages, and the kind of photos you should feature.

A less familiar kind of persona is the accessibility persona. It focuses on the difficulties that certain users face when surfing the web. 

Users with visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive disabilities experience web browsing differently from the majority of the population. As web developers and designers, it is our job to ensure that our platforms are made with inclusivity in mind.

What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility is concerned with helping people with disabilities have better online experiences. It takes advantage of modern tools and technologies to make websites easier to understand, navigate, and perceive under special circumstances.

Web accessibility not only benefits users with pronounced physical and cognitive disabilities but also those with situational limitations. For example, consumers browsing with a slow internet connection, those who are on smaller devices, and visitors who are outside under direct sunlight.

Investing in web accessibility forges strong relationships with all of your consumers. With more of our lives happening online, accessibility is a must to improve upon UX and overall satisfaction. 

Website Accessibility Optimizations 

So how can you make your website more accessible? We’ve listed a few things you can do to welcome a broad range of users and comply with website accessibility standards.

Use ARIA roles and attributes

ARIA or WAI-ARIA is short for Web Accessibility Initiative’s Accessible Rich Internet Applications. ARIA attributes are made specifically to fill in the lapses of native HTML when it comes to accessibility.

People with disabilities use special devices or software called assistive technologies to navigate web pages independently. The problem is, not all HTML, CSS, and JavaScript elements are rendered well when passed through these products. 

If you include a custom checkbox on your web form using CSS, assistive technologies may fail to report it to the user and miss it entirely. By adding ARIA attributes, screen readers can spot it with ease and communicate it to the user.

ARIA works by modifying or adding to existing element semantics. You can think of it as adding labels on visual elements that are then read and interpreted by assistive technology APIs. 

This way, interactive controls are highlighted, and users are afforded landmarks that help them keep track of where they are on the web page.

Allow users to enlarge the font size

Small font sizes are a pain even to those with good eyesight. For someone with visual impairments, poor font settings are the bane of user experience. 

You might think that the zoom function and text size adjustments on web browsers and devices are enough, but you would be wrong. Some users, especially the elderly, may not know how to manipulate these settings. Additionally, they throw off your web layout. 

older woman typing on laptop computer

A better solution is to have in-page controls that allow visitors to set the text size to their liking. You can add buttons at the top of your page with +/- symbols or upward/downward arrows to incrementally increase or decrease the font size.

Some websites come with a link to an alternate style sheet that accommodates the need for larger text. This technique is known as style switching and can be used in combination with the previous procedure.

Make sure that these options are readily noticeable. Position them conspicuously on the page and see to it that they’re easy to use. If you opt for style switching, consider providing multiple versions of your web pages with varied font sizes. 

Add alt texts

Alternative text or alt text are brief captions assigned to images that appear on websites. They’re incorporated into HTML code to describe what’s going on in a photo. 

When visually impaired users land on a web page, screen readers will read out the alt text to improve user experience. 

It also serves other functions. In case images fail to load due to a bad internet connection, alt text will appear in their place. Furthermore, web crawlers use alt text to index images properly, thus adding them to your code strengthens SEO.

The trick to writing effective alternative text is to place yourself in your consumers’ shoes. If you only had access to alt texts, you should be able to imagine what the photo looks like. Instead of naming the objects in the photo, it’s better to paint a picture with the right words.

Do not overload your alt texts with keywords and keep them as concise as possible. 

Support keyboard navigation

Keyboard navigation is a major criterion in determining web accessibility. Some users are unable to operate a mouse or touchpad due to physical disabilities.

Aside from moving up and down a web page, keyboard navigation must support access to interactive elements such as drop-down menus, forms, widgets, URLs, and others. It must also incorporate keyboard focus and avoid keyboard traps.

Keyboard focus lets users know where they are on the web page and which element is currently active. A simple border is enough to help keyboard users navigate websites better. 

man's hand on a keyboard

What’s important is a high contrast between the focus indicator and the background. On your CSS file, you can disable the default focus indicator and choose a more appropriate color and style.

Meanwhile, keyboard traps are barriers to navigation. If users interact with an element using the keyboard, they must be able to navigate away and move to the next item seamlessly; otherwise, they’re “trapped” on that specific dialogue box or control. 

Work your way around keyboard traps by allowing navigation using the ESC or Tab keys.

Ensure good color contrast

Color is a basic element in web design. It’s of particular interest to marketers because it plays a big role in branding and driving conversions. But perhaps the most important function of color is simply to make it easy for users to take in visual information.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 ensures that visual information is effectively conveyed. It defines contrast as the perceived difference in brightness between two colors expressed as a ratio. 

White text on a white background has a contrast ratio of 1:1, while black text on a white background is measured 21:1.

The general rule in presenting text is to have a contrast ratio of 4:5:1, with a few exceptions. Large text can go by 3:1, while text in logos and decorative text has no strict contrast requirement. 

Other components besides text need a contrast ratio of at least 3:1. This includes icons, graphical objects, and others related to the user interface.

Work with a Professional Team of Web Developers and Designers

Reap the benefits of robust and stunning web pages when you hire a team of seasoned web developers and designers. We specialize in customizing websites both in visuals and functionality to drive conversions. Contact DevWerkz today.