Four ways to keep your web site accessible

So, you’ve got a brand new shiny website with AA accessibility. Or perhaps you’ve been through a recent exercise to make it more accessible because you need to meet a certain compliance deadline related to your sector.

Now you have a website with better accessibility the question is – how do you keep your website accessible? And if you’re not even at that stage how do you start that journey to get the accessible website you want and need?

Here are four key methods which we’ve observed digital teams use to keep their websites accessible. We’ve also factored these approaches into how we’ve designed our automated accessibility website testing.

1. Consider the change management effort needed

Keeping a website accessible is about individuals learning new skills and behaviours and carrying these out. Even though most of these actions are likely to be straightforward, quite often you may be relying on individual page editors who don’t always have accessibility at the front of mind.

To help embed new behaviours and habits, change management and training may be needed. The central digital team or website manager should actively consider what they need to do.

Learning on the job also always has great impact (most training functions take a view that 70% of learning is experiential) and Accessibility Center’s actionable emails with lists of required priority actions or pages is right in the flow of everybody’s daily work. This can help increase web accessibility skills and support more formal training as page editors and content owners learn as they fix the issues identified.

2. Focus on what matters and keep steps achievable

Sometimes it can feel like there is too much to do to achieve compliance. We’ve always found that if you give people a massive task list it can be de-motivating with the unintended consequence of individuals putting off making the necessary changes.

In terms of accessibility, some actions also have more impact on the user experience than others. That’s why Accessibility Center’s reporting focuses on priority areas and pages for immediate action so individuals have their own roadmap of changes to make.

These steps are also doable and realistic, so teams and individuals will be making the necessary progress and feel like they are achieving. This keeps everybody motivated to keep on top of accessibility.

3. Target messages to different roles

Different characters involved in managing your website have different perspectives, use different terminology and even have a different mindset altogether! Anybody who’s encountered fundamental misunderstandings between marketing and IT teams will know what we mean!

If you’re the person co-ordinating the efforts to ensure your website is accessible, then you need to ensure that messaging is appropriately targeted to different roles. When we designed our automated accessibility testing we took this into account by separating the reports for the three key roles:

Actions and messages are therefore highly relevant to the individual and, of course, more likely to get done.

4. Make it a regular process

It’s always best to carry out accessibility improvements as a regular process, perhaps with other improvements which need to be made. It’s then becomes an ongoing activity as part of everyday roles rather than build up to be an effort which is increasingly hard to fit into your busy schedule.

Whether you test daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly, we’ve scheduled our automated accessibility testing so that it can be started at the click of a button. It makes it easy to incorporate testing into the way you and your team work.

Keep your website accessible!

Website accessibility doesn’t have to feel like a mountain to climb or an issue you’re never quite on top of. Use the approaches above to make it a regular part of what people do.

You can support that effort with an automated approach such as Accessibility Center’s website testing and successfully remain compliant.

 

About Accessibility Center

Accessibility Center is the first fit-for-purpose, automated Accessibility as a Service solution. Rather than offering endless reams of reporting, Accessibility Center provides actionable insights. These are divided between editorial and technical changes and are prioritised in order of importance, so making major improvements can fast and simple.

 

About the Sitemorse INDEX

Since 2002, the Sitemorse INDEX has provided an independent industry standard for bench-marking digital governance. Sites are reviewed and scored based on some 1,600 tests, checks and measures per page, identifying features that improve optimisation, experience and compliance. Since its inception, it has been the fundamental measure of digital capability for organisations that strive for online excellence.

Scoring highly typically reflects those that have strong digital leadership and understand the importance of providing the best visitor experience possible – and it reflects positively on the entire organisation’s operations and branding.

For further information, please contact Michael Simon msimon@sitemorse.com.