Many brands overlook the importance of digital accessibility. But accessibility offers several advantages to businesses, such as building trust and improving reach and engagement among users. So, what does accessibility look like, and how can brands achieve it, shares, Caroline Jerome, CEO & Chief Design Officer atÂ TBGA.
Aside from building trust, accessibility impacts SEO and broadens engagement to include a significant number of users who would otherwise be left out of reach. As brands consider accessibility from a value-driven perspective, they should remember these practical advantages. And they should always be mindful that creating meaningful, accessible content requires more than virtue signaling and pledges that are only lip service.Â
Many brands overlook the importance of digital accessibility. The ones hampered by limited marketing budgets might think the perceived cost of investing in digital accessibility seems too high. Others might not know any better and fail to consider how all users will interact with their sites or product pages, leaving out critical inclusive features and alienating potential customers.
These issues notwithstanding, the potential payoffs (e.g., a larger customer base and more credible public profile) justify the choice. Plus, considering that one billion people experience some form of disability, and this segment has an estimated spending power of more than $6 trillionOpens a new window , according to W3C, it points to the long-term value of digital accessibility.
Inclusive brands are more trustworthy in customers’ eyes. Taking that extra step to think more universally about users and their needs will ultimately build human connections and extend brand reach.
What Does Digital Accessibility Look Like?
The brands that choose to embrace digital accessibility usually run into the same challenge: objectivity. When internal stakeholders know so much about their products, they often overlook necessary design changes that can introduce their brands to broader audiences.
When a brand is too close to the problem, it is helpful to take a 10,000-foot view to see what digital accessibility looks like in action. This is where resources, such as the Web Content Accessibility GuidelinesOpens a new window (or WCAG), can help. WCAG is a set of detailed guidelines that outline strategies for making web content accessible. Brands can use WCAG to familiarize themselves with the basic rules of accessibility. Knowing these rules â€” not to mention testing for accessibility in their digital content â€” can provide important analyses and valuable perspectives.
A basic understanding of WCAG translates to improved digital content for all users. Disabilities that inhibit haptic feedback or make reading challenging (e.g., dyslexia, hearing loss, vertigo, etc.) are quite common. When brands design with accessibility standards at the forefront, they improve touch technology and readability for everyone.
Ultimately, it is up to brands to explore what accessibility will look like for their digital spaces. Given the benefits for both brands and users, it is crucial to make a move to accessibility now.
Make Digital Accessibility a Priority
When content is designed and edited with accessibility in mind, users everywhere benefit. What are some of the most effective strategies for improving accessibility? Start with the following:
1. Consider scale when determining font size and line length
Everyone wants the text to be easy to read, but this is especially critical for older users and those with visual disabilities or impairments. It is essential to start with large enough text so that users can read comfortably â€” at least a 16-pixel size font is recommendedOpens a new window .
Appraise the length of each line you are asking readers to follow across a webpage. Lines of text need to hit a sweet spot of not too long and not too short, usually about 66 characters per line. Lastly, do not forget line height. The larger the font, the larger the line height should be. These typographic details help the eye track information and enhance overall accessibility, readability, and even comprehension.
2. Make clickables larger
According to WCAG, increasing the size of links and website buttons improves overall visibility. Smaller targets can be difficult for users to see, click, or touch. A minimum size of 44 by 44 pixelsOpens a new window ensures greater accessibility for users using touchscreens or with mobility disabilities or impairments.
Brands should use objectivity when considering design goals. With frequently used click targets, it might be beneficial to go bigger than WCAG recommends. However, if users can modify the target size themselves, meeting the minimum pixel sizes might not be an urgent need. Objectivity and trained judgment should help set the standards that achieve the goal of designing clickable assets that can respond right away.
3. Create contrast
When perceiving content on a webpage, color and contrast are key. The strategic use of both will help users with visual disabilities or impairments, such as color blindness, recognize content. WCAG notes that it is for all text and other interactive elements in digital spaces to have a 4.5-to-1 color contrast ratioOpens a new window .
Of course, color is not the only way to attract the eye to interactive elements. Using multiple indicators for any interactive element, such as underlining or italics, ensures that more people can find critical information on a webpage.
4. Incorporate semantic HTML
What is semantic HTML exactly? Essentially, it incorporates meaning by providing more information about a website’s components. This information assists the browser and any assistive technology users might need. Semantic HTML also positively impacts SEO.
Users who rely on reader software, such as screen readers, rely on semantic HTML to relay essential information. It can help readers better understand the structure of a webpage or the best way to navigate its content. Semantic HTML ultimately funnels information to the widest possible audience. And by building webpages that use semantic HTML, content is more organized, informative, and adaptable, enabling browsers and search engines to interpret content more effectively.
5. Always include a script
If your digital branding leans on visual content, remember the importance of transcripts to describe it. Basic transcripts (i.e., the text of video or audio content) are helpful, but descriptive transcripts take things to the next level. They go a step further by providing users with the necessary information to interpret visual assets that support your brand.
Similarly, simple inclusions, such as subtitles, can provide users with real-time information. Regardless of how you do it, providing content in multiple formats is critical. That way, users will not have to wonder what they are missing.
The advantages of integrating accessibility into a brand’s digital program are clear. Digital content enables brands to reach limitless audiences, so long as they make sure the content they put out is accessible to as many people as possible. Simple, high-quality design choices ensure your brand is available and inclusive to all users. This tactic will not only enhance your brand’s performance but also become a gesture that everyone will appreciate and remember.
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