Accessibility and SEO: Can you say that in the same sentence?
Today, Attacats Jon, David and Johan went down town to attend Bunnyfoot’s Charity Seminar covering topics ranging from Usability, Accessibility, testing and site analytics (all will be covered in the Brain). Besides the insightful talks they are trying to raise money for The CARE Challenge, so if you feel you benefit from this article you might consider adding a generous donation here.
We arrived at the Bunnyfoot’s stunning office premises at Jackson’s Entry just off Canongate just around 9.30 and the second talk we heard was made by Kevin White who gave a very good and easy introduction to accessibility and what to think about when creating websites.
What is Accessibilty?
Basically web accessibility means that people with disabilities can access, interact and understand content online. Some people might argue that designing websites for people with disabilities is like using a sniper gun to kill an entire anthill – too targeted and a waste of time. However, if you think about it; just about three out of ten people in Europe and almost eight in every ten in Asia are short sighted, so thinking about how people with short sight might interact with your website – with and without glassed might improve your overall website accessibility.
Myths about Accessibility
Let’s kill off some myths before we go any further.
- Web accessibility is only for blind and deaf people. No! People with mental and physical disabilities can and definitely want to access and interact with content online.
- It is too time consuming and cost too much money. No! If you implement the notion from the beginning, the cost and time spent on it is not significantly more, compared to a regular website development.
- Basic text is enough. No! Well if this was 1990, where not many people even knew what the Internet was – then yes. However, today it marginalises users in a global digital environment unless you make tailored text for any language and then it demands too much maintenance and thereby makes it less cost effective.
- My visitors don’t have an accessibility problem. How do even know that? Unless you’ve done extensive user testing we bet you don’t know this as accessibility tools and software are not tracked.
- Accessible sites are not sexy. Well that depends on the developer. You can easily make an accessible site sexy with basic html and CSS coding. (In a similar way to making SEO designs sexy)
There are many disabilities ranging from visual, colour, auditory to physical and mental disabilities. All of these people will most often in one way or the other want to access the internet with different remedies to improve their accessibility and user experience. These tools range from highly customised keyboards and mice to software that enables people to control the computer by a simple sniff or a blink.
Why Should I Think About Accessibility?
Even though tailoring websites to these extreme cases might not be worthwhile unless your website is highly targeted, it will often make sense to have these people in mind when developing your site. For example can it be of use to think of people with cognitive disabilities like ADHD as these people will need a very clear call to action if you want them to convert.
You might ask yourself why you should improve the accessibility of your site. Besides making it more accessible to the people that needs it, it also benefits novice computer users as they will probably find it easier to navigate the site. Additional the “dumbest” of them all, Google, benefits at lot from it as the site becomes easier to read for the Google robots and that, at the end of the day, improves your SEO performance significantly.
So the advice is, start engaging with accessibility and start improving your site. This will benefit disabled people, novice computer users, you and me in terms of SEO and the Mighty Google is happy.