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New Website, Who Dis? How to Manage Your New Website While Maintaining Accessibility

Launching a new website is no easy feat. And once you’ve pushed everything live, it’s easy to want to take a step back, but the truth is—website management never ends. Keeping your site accurate and up to date is time-consuming, and when you consider accessibility, it all starts to feel quite daunting. Here are a few tips to help you manage your new website without sacrificing accessibility.

Keep Your Content Short & Sweet

The average user spends less than 15 seconds on a webpage. Structure your content knowing that most readers skim to find the most relevant information. Section headers and bulleted lists are eye-catching and draw readers in. Use language that’s clear and easy to understand, and ALWAYS write with a specific audience in mind. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is unfamiliar with your brand or organization, and make sure your content meets their needs.

Use Alt Tags

Sometimes referred to as alt text or alternate description, alt tags describe images and graphics. The text is applied to individual images and is hidden from most users. However, this text is extremely important to users with impaired vision. Without an alt tag applied to an image, blind or low-vision users may not know it exists. Alt tags help users navigating your site with a screen reader access all of the content, not just text. This is important not only for accessibility, but it also gives your content an SEO boost. Appropriate alt tag use helps pages rank better in organic search because they improve the overall user experience.

Screenshot of Wordpress Alt Text Interface

Adding Alt Text in Wordpress

Screenshot of Drupal Alt Text Interface

Adding Alt Text in Drupal

Limit Image & Video Sizes 

Large image and video sizes affect accessibility. For example, a 10MB image probably won’t load very quickly for someone with a slower internet connection or users accessing your site from their phone. It’s possible to maintain quality while also providing image and video files that are more manageable in size. Before uploading photos and videos to your website, consider compressing them with a tool, like TinyPNG (for images) or HandBreak (for videos) to reduce their file size without a noticeable difference in quality.

Video Captions Help Everyone

Videos are a great way to engage users and keep them on your page for a longer period of time. Including captions on videos make them accessible for every user. We’ve all been that person trying to watch a video in a quiet room. You tap the video, only to be met with blaring audio as everyone watches you try to scramble and shut it off. Captions help more people access your content (and can save some of us from embarrassment).

Double-Check Your Links, Then Check Them Again

There’s nothing more frustrating than thinking you’ve found the link that’ll take you to the information you need and it leads to a page that doesn’t exist. Always double-check that your links lead to the correct page.

Make Sure Your Links Are Descriptive

Links that are too generic or duplicated throughout a page can be very confusing for users that rely on screen readers. Avoid link text such as “Click Here,” “More,” and “Read More.” Try to use descriptive, unique text for links whenever possible. For example, instead of saying “to learn more click here,” try “you can learn more by visiting WCAG Guidelines on Descriptive Links.”

Headings—What Does H1, H2, H3, etc. Mean?

Headings are meant to be used as titles and subtitles for sections of a page. They provide structure and organize content so it’s easily digestible (and skimmable) for users. Just like alt tags, headings are beneficial for both accessibility and SEO.

Headings improve accessibility for those using assistive technologies, like screen readers, by outlining the page structure. This makes the page easier to navigate by separating large chunks of text. 

Headings improve SEO because they help search engines determine the topic and purpose of a webpage, which helps users find what they’re looking for.

So what exactly is the difference between H1, H2, H3, etc.? “H tags” are HTML heading tags that indicate different sections or topics on a web page. In most CMS interfaces, they are referred to as “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, etc.

<h1> is the most important heading and typically appears once on the page, usually as the page title. <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, <h6>, can be used multiple times throughout a page. The higher the number, the less important the heading.

Headings Interface in WordPress

Adding Headings in Wordpress

Screenshot of Drupal Headings Interface

Adding Headings in Drupal

Headings should not be used to stylize, enlarge, or emphasize text. Instead, they should be used as page titles, paragraph titles, or to distinguish between different sections of text, which is especially useful for those using assistive technology.

Sharing is Caring—Educate Your Team

It’s important for more than one person to understand your website’s CMS. If you rely on one specialist, and they leave your organization, they’ll likely take usernames, passwords, and a whole lot of knowledge with them. Avoid being left in the dark by training up a team that can jump into your CMS when needed. Plus, a team effort can make keeping your website up to date a whole lot easier.