Usability & Accessibility
Accessibility raises it's head again. I have been fortunate enough to have talked to business owners over the last few weeks, getting to understand their motivators.

As I have said before, accessibility shouldn't cost you any more (the cost of redesigning a site has a cost in itself, but no-one should be developing illegal sites). In addition to this, we are talking about two additional benefits. Obviously, you are going to comply with the law, but you are also going to have a website that is accessible and useable to all users, including the automated users - namely the search engine spiders and 'bots. If you are struggling to get your site into the front pages of the search engines, you can spend a lot of money with search engine marketing companies, but if your site is inaccessible - you are wasting your money.

When I teach business owners web design, I recommend they use a book. It is not complex, it is not full of technobabble, and it shows you the commonsense approach to design. This book has the fantastic title - Don't Make Me Think - by Steve Krug. (Please follow this link to Amazon if you want to take a look at it/buy this title). This is a book about usability. It won't actually help you get your site to WAI standards, but will help open the site up to all users by being useable. Some features of usable sites:
  • Content flow to move top-left to bottom-right
    People in the West read from left to right - so the most important information should be top left

  • Make use of page titles and descriptions
    People know what they are looking at - especially if you want the page bookmarked

  • Keep content scannable, concise and readable
    For more information, I would point you to Jakob Nielsen's website

  • Make your site consistent
    Ensure your page design, colours and navigation are consistent to help your visitors

This is not the whole list, I don't want to spoil all the fun of learning web design with me!

Add to these elements, full tagging of your images, careful selection of colours and removal of speciality coding such as JavaScript and you will be well on the way to providing an accessible site.

For more information on accessibility, please look at the previous blog, and check out the relevant brand sites - Jack Marketing Solutions and DDA Audit.