How to Make Online Content More Accessible
When assessing user experience for your online content, it’s important to make sure that it’s easy for users to access information as effectively as possible. According to an article by UX Booth, the best ways to do this are “through consistent use of a logical heading structure, providing meaningful alt text, properly labeling links, and adapting their writing style to reach the widest audience possible”.
Maintain Consistent & Logical Heading Structure
Headings in online content help users scan your pages more effectively and find the information they are trying to extract from your website. In addition, it’s especially important for users using screen readers to use headings so that headings can be distinguished from the rest of the text.
In order for users to be able to read your website easily, it is important to use both H1 and H2 tags to help them navigate the content. The H1, or Heading 1 tag should be used for the title page, while H2, or Heading 2 tags are used to identify topics throughout the article.
Add Relevant Alt Text for Images
Images are important for online content – they are used to communicate information and can help emphasize the message of a webpage. To make sure that nonvisual readers can benefit from images, it is important to supply meaningful and relevant alt text on all images.
Since screen readers can’t translate images, the developer must supply this text to the user to accurately present what the image represents. Without an alt attribute, screen readers often read the image source code, which can result in a negative user interaction.
Label Links Properly
While links are a great way to provide additional information in online content as well as to cite research sources, they must be labeled in order to be helpful. It is still commonplace to see “learn more” or “click here” for links, but this text is uninformative to users and causes a problem for screen reader users. With a screen reader, links are disassociated from the content so having the generic “learn more” text or the like provides no relevant information for the user.
Links should also indicate if the user would be taken off the site they are currently visiting, as it can cause confusion if the user isn’t aware the site has changed. In addition, download links should have the document type appended to the link text in order to inform the user that they are about to download a file.
Keep an Adaptive Writing Style
In order for text to be easy for users to read, it should be at a 9th grade reading level and organized into sections to make sure your online content appeals to a large audience. With reading disabilities, it can be difficult to recognize printed words. Using smaller, more common words and short sentences make it easier to digest the content for these users.
Since it isn’t always possible to use only small, common words and to limit paragraphs to 2–3 sentences (especially in field-specific content), it is important to keep the content’s audience in mind first and foremost. In addition, there are several tools available to evaluate the level of your online content, including online readability score sites.
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