So, you’re ready to up your game with more inclusive, accessible marketing?
When was the last time you evaluated and updated your website or blog?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in1990 to ensure Americans with disabilities have accommodations in physical spaces. However, how it translates into the online space is still a bit up in the air. Afterall, in 1990 we never could have imagined how technology would change over the next 20+ years.
While there is no formal law mandating websites be made accessible, nor what that should look like, as Just Marketers, we understand that ensuring our content is accessible is simply the right thing to do!
Also, in 2019, a court case ruled that Dominos, the pizza restaurant, was responsible for ensuring the disabled community is able to access their website to place orders. It was a small step in the right direction to creating more accessible online spaces.
But still, there are no formal rules or regulations yet. I suspect they may be coming over the next few years, and when that happens I know we’ll be ahead of the game because we’re making these considerations now.
So, what do you think? Is your website and blog accessible? Have you ever considered it before? If you’re wondering how to tackle this aspect of Just Marketing, check out some of these helpful resources and best practices.
How to Make Your Website & Blog More Accessible
When we talk about making our website more accessible, what we mean is that it needs to be formatted and written in a particular way so that it is easy for human eyes, as well as assistive technology like screen readers, to read. Here’s some best practices to follow.
Always Use Proper Headings
Headings must always be used properly to convey structure (H1 for title, H2/H3/H4 for section headings) and they should always go in order.
You don’t want to use your blog headings for any other reason (like to change fonts) because this messes with the way that screen readers “read” the content. That was something I was blissfully unaware of until recently.
Using the proper heading formatting helpe users navigate, understand, and find content.
Use Descriptive Text When Hyperlinking
When you are writing and including a link to a different website, webpage, or resource, you want to avoid saying “click here” and hyperlinking the text “click here.”
Instead, you should use descriptive text – that’s text that describes the action – such as “sign up for the newsletter,” “watch the training now,” or “subscribe today.” And hyper link those words.
What difference does that make? It provides more information about what that user will experience when they click the link. It helps improve the user experience.
Additionally, you may choose to prepare your readers for what to expect once they arrive at the link by adding brackets with additional descriptive text. For example, [VIDEO] or [WEBSITE]. Again, this helps users know what to expect after clicking the link.
One thing people don’t like are surprises, so be as clear as possible about what the links lead to, so people can make educated decisions about whether they want to click or not.
Less Is More
Don’t overuse bold, italics, or underlining – again, this additional formatting impacts the way that screen readers “read” your content, and often results in a poor user experience.
Resources To Help Increase Accessibility Online
Over the past year, I’ve become aware of plugins and software that are available to help you make sure your website is accessible to those who have different needs.
There are paid options, but if you are not at a stage in your entrepreneurial journey where you can afford yet another membership, I have also provided some more economical and/or free options below.
I’d like to note here that I recently attended a virtual event with Tasha Hussey from Lavender Turtle Creative who is a wordpress developer and accessibility advocate. She informed me that these plugins are actually not recommended for a couple good reasons:
- Because you don’t have control of the code and the functionality – if the code breaks, suddenly you’re without accommodations.
- Because many people will install the plug in and not take any further action, which is problematic. These plugins are not an end-all solution. They are a small piece of the accessibility puzzle. Installing these plugins alone does NOT make your website accessible. Because I know this is not YOU, I am still going to share the information about the plugin.
Please remember that choosing to use one of these plugins – or a similar alternative – should not be the ONLY way that you’re ensuring accessibility on your website, but it certainly can compliment all of the other things you’re doing to make your website inclusive and accessible.
accessiBE ($49/mo Paid Membership)
- accessiBe provides website accessibility by meeting the legal requirements and the need of the expanding market for ADA consumers.
Offering the ability to expand with your business and keep tasks simple for you, accessiBe could be beneficial.
However, I’ve found that at $49/mo to start, this doesn’t necessarily work for emerging entrepreneurs and small business owners. I wasn’t a fan of their marketing strategy, so you won’t find the Just Marketing™ seal of approval there.
- One Click Accessibility is a free plugin that lets the user customize your website display. It gives them the ability to view the website with whichever accommodations they prefer, including:
- Increasing text size
- Using more readable fonts
- Making the site grayscale vs. colorful
- Adjusting color contrast
- And more.
This plugin also allows a user to save these settings so when they return, they don’t have to readjust their settings. It also works really well with WordPress.
More Helpful Just Marketing™ Resources
Just Marketing™ is nuanced and layered. There is a lot to take into consideration beyond how to format your headlines and hyperlinks. But, this is kind of our jam over here. If you would like to learn more about additional website-specific best practices, check out these posts as well:
- Alt Text: A Necessary Step In Your Just Marketing™ Strategy[EMBED LINK]
- A Just Marketing™ Guide to Emojis and Assistive Technology[EMBED LINK]
- Color Contrast [EMBED LINK]
- Captions/Transcriptions [EMBED LINK]
All of these topics are important to become more inclusive, accessible, and equitable in your marketing.