Web Design for Visually Impaired Users
Web design is reaching a level of standardisation. Whilst there will always be a clear delineation between the banal and exceptional in terms of design and implementation, the general way in which websites are designed is becoming increasingly similar. The reason for this is simple: we know what works! In the early days of the internet, people had to experiment and innovate constantly, as they simply didn’t know what was going to stick. However, after decades of website design, things are finally starting to converge into a format that just works.
Are things perfect? Of course not. While a standard form of web design has emerged, there are still many tweaks to this format which need to be made in order to ensure that all websites are easily accessible to all.
One area which has come on leaps and bounds recently is the development of websites which are accessible to the visually impaired. This is such an important area – many visually impaired people are regular users – and one that is so simple to include as part of any form of web design that we wanted to go through it here. A lot of great developers have done and are continuing to do work in this area, but here’s the current best practice consensus on ensuring that your website is accessible to visually impaired individuals.
Ensure that text and background colours contrast heavily. There is a bit of a trend for “pale on pale” colour palettes in web design at the moment, but this isn’t ideal for a visually impaired user. Instead, ensure that the colours on your website have a heavy contrast, and the readability will greatly improve for a much wider audience.
Avoid small fonts, and try and allow for adjustable text sizes. There’s even a standard call to action you can include for this. When implementing this, you do need to think about how it might affect responsive elements on the website.
Calls to Action
Make calls to action as large and obvious as possible. Additionally, do not use colours as a differentiating point in your calls to action. This is due to the difficulties colourblind individuals may experience if this is the main driver for your user journey. Make clear graphical or text changes the key differentiators in your calls to action, and your website will be all the more accessible for it.
Screen Reader Technology
Many visually impaired individuals will use screen reader technology when browsing websites. Therefore, it is imperative that your content is optimised for this technology. This can be as simple as ensuring your punctuation and spelling is correct, as errors in this regard have a tendency to trip the software up. Make sure all headings are correctly tagged, as screen reader technology will change its inflection based on these. Very importantly – and often overlooked – ensure that all alt tags on images are filled in, as these are read aloud by the technology.
These are some of the key areas you can optimise to ensure your website is accessible to visually impaired individuals. If you have any questions about best practice on website design, give us a call on 01606 884 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.