Apr 06

Designing an Accessible Site Without Losing Your Mind

One of the biggest mistakes I see from web designers is making accessibility more complicated than it actually is. Most designers think of creating accessible content as something that will take weeks of exaggerated tagging, designing tab-browsing and hot keys for every minute function of a site, and writing over-descriptive metadata, so most people just give up and don’t even bother. However, by using some simple techniques and following some basic guidelines, you can make your website accessible to a wide audience of users without spending too much time and energy.

I define web accessibility as:

“Making web content available to a wide audience regardless of physical abilities, web clients, and personal preferences.”

To simplify our tasks as accessible web designers, there a few specific categories that can be helpful as we evaluate some of the different types of users:

  • Visually Impaired: Those with low or no vision. These users may use screenreading software or may use the browser’s functionality to increase text size and contrast.
  • Hearing Impaired: Those with low or no hearing. These users will need to be able to see a textual representation of any audio that is part of the site.
  • Physically Impaired: Those who lack the physical dexterity to use a mouse or a traditional keyboard. These users may use a variety of interface devices, many of which parallel the functionality of the traditional [TAB] key. Continue reading
Apr 02

Eight ways to avoid common website mistakes

Everyone has a website these days, but not every website is equal. As the online environment becomes ever more crowded, you don’t just need to have a website, you need to have an outstanding website. In pursuit of the perfect page, here are some of the top web design mistakes to avoid.

1. Make the purpose of the website clear immediately

The internet is a very fast-paced environment in which millions of companies are competing for the attention of your potential customers. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your web design is to prepare a site which does not clearly outline the nature of your business and the services that are available online. This information needs to be obvious and should appear on the first page of the website that browsers are likely to encounter. If you make your website too difficult to understand your potential customers will move on within seconds.

2. Use colour in moderation

Another common mistake that can be made in web design, particularly by the inexperienced, is the use of loud and conflicting colour schemes. Certainly contemporary web design does allow for the use of a myriad of colours and background patterns, but that doesn’t mean you need to use seven different themes on each page. Pick two or three colours that evoke the mood of your business and are not so harsh that your customers will need to wear sunglasses to browse through the site! Use colour in moderation. Continue reading