When the web began, few people knew what to do and where to put things. But as time marched on patterns evolved in how users reacted to our websites, and out of an analysis of that came discussion on usability and accessibility. In fact there are even standards enforced by government legislation to improve accessibility and usability for less able users. But what can you do to make your site more accessible, and more importantly why would you even care to?
Usability and accessibility matter simply because if people can’t navigate your site you might as well not have one. People want to access your content, and making it as easy as possible should be a top goal when designing your site. And here’s a few tips to start you off.
- Leave control of the browser to the user. Resizing, moving, and opening a new window might seam great to you, but it can be very annoying to the end user. If I want a new window or a different sized window I can do that myself, and most users can too. Leave their browser alone and you’ll be off to a good start.
- Navigation needs to be easily understandable to new users. That means no mystery meat links, links that usually contain image and no text describing where the link leads too. These glyphs might seem cute and innovative on your caveman themed site, but they are a quick way to confuse your user as to where they are and where they want to be. Navigation also needs to be consistent on every page of your site, and it should also let the user know where they are at any given moment. Your logo should also link to the index on every page but the index.
- Links should be obvious and contain title tags. Users expect links to be blue and underlined, it’s very trendy to change up how links are presented, but at the very least the link needs to be underlined and be a different colour then the rest of your text. Here as well the user doesn’t need your help opening a new window, despite the popular notion that you need to have it open in a new window so users can be at your site and the link simultaneously.
- Use text that has high contrast with your background. Black and white is good, grey on white is not. Also avoid having overly complex backgrounds behind your text.
So there are 4 easy tips to get you started on having a more accessible site.