In this drive for more, more, more content, it can be hard to ensure that all your content is accessible. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself: Is my content readable?
Not every member of your target audience is going to be internet-literate, and not everyone is able to easily navigate websites from disabilities. These members of your audience are just as important as those who understand the internet. Catering to them allows you to expand your market.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) also has content regulations in place, so taking a look at your content can be the start of compliance and is a part of upkeep on your website.
Here are five tips to make your content as accessible and readable as possible
1- Use Headings Extensively
Headings help break up long blocks of text, allowing people to more easily scan content. Having properly nested headings is critical for both readability and AODA. This means a single H1 is at the start of the page, followed by secondary headings being H2, and so on.
This also means not using headings for spacing. The only time H1 should show up on the page is at the beginning, and all subsequent headings should have text in them. Screen readers rely on headings to determine the content of the page, and they are a key component of compatibility.
Easily scanned content also allows busy professionals to know if the page will be valuable to them, making them more likely to either keep browsing the site regardless of if they find what they want on that page. If they don’t find what they need, they know finding other content on your website will be easy because it’s well organized.
2- Make sure titles are descriptive
Jargon happens in any industry. But, be careful that your menu headings and links leading to other sections of your site are in plain language.
There is nothing more confusing than looking at a website and having to decipher what basic menu headings mean. This leads to guessing at what sort of content might be beyond the link. It’s a problem for those who screen readers, too, because unclear headings make it much slower to navigate website; people who rely on them might give up — and your website to get penalized in its SEO ranking.
Go through your menu headings and make sure somebody with minimal knowledge of your industry or organization can make a reasonable guess at what’s behind the menu item.
3- Employ Lists
Bulleted lists are easier to skim, and can act as a mini table of contents for longer pages of content. They provide high points that can then act as hyperlinks down to headings should such jumps be advantageous. Even if they’re lower on the page, their indented nature makes them stand out, causing people to pay attention.
Accordion lists are also useful for keeping pages at a manageable scroll length. While people are less shy about scrolling than they used to be, there’s still something intimidating about a long scroll bar.
Both techniques allow people to see the most important information at once, giving people to read the sea of content around them.
4- Ensure Logical Groupings
This is a fancy way of saying grouping like with like, which is harder than it sounds.
This is especially important when you have content that can fit under multiple headings. Information about programs and services offered can fall under multiple headings. It’s important to make sure the pages are cross-linked.
Really look at your content from top to bottom and determine if people would assume all the information under the heading (including sub-pages) can be found under the top heading. If it feels obscure or unnatural consider breaking off the content to something more appropriately named.
5- Have a Site Map
Some people know exactly where they want to go. If you combine proper headings and good page names, a site map is an invaluable tool to help people know where to look. Placing it in the header or in an otherwise prominent position will give people a shortcut.
A site map is also required for AODA compliance, allowing people to navigate easily.
If you keep these five tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to having users get the most out of your content. And the more users can get out of your content, the more likely they are to trust your business. As an extra bonus, you’ll be closer to AODA compliance.