3 Tips for Website Copy Accessibility

As small business owners who dwell primarily online, website copy accessibility is one of the most important things you need to focus on. Why? Because we’re working towards an accessible and inclusive world, of course.

However, not a lot of people focus on this. Instead, they simply publish their content and hope for the best.

By choosing to write accessible website content – from your homepage to your services page, and even your blogs – business owners make the intentional and conscientious effort to make sure folx can consume their content without the hassle. 

This includes, but is not limited to, people who need a site reader, those who speak different languages, etc.

After all, copy that isn’t accessible is, at the end of the day, exclusionary.

If you’re looking for ways to up your website copy accessibility, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading for some of our favorite tips on how to make your website more accessible, user-friendly, and informative for all!

What do we mean by “website copy accessibility”?

Put simply, “accessibility” refers to how easy it is for users to consume (“read”) your content.

There are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether or not your content is accessible. A few of these include:

  • Font type & size
  • Font & background colors
  • Content structure
  • Image & video use

The main issue a lot of business owners face when it comes to website copy accessibility is the ableist assumption – not necessarily with bad intentions – that everyone, everywhere, finds the same type of content “accessible”.

It’s important to understand that users won’t consume content in the same way.

That’s where accessibility comes in. It ensures that everyone – no matter the context, or their situation – can enjoy the same content without missing out on the experience.

Our top 3 tips for website copy accessibility

Let’s say this is the first time you’re hearing about website copy accessibility. You’re probably wondering, “What can I do to fix it?!”

The great thing about writing accessible website copy is that it only takes a little more attention to detail and education to achieve!

READ: How Small Businesses Can Write Accessible Content

Here are three tips to help you get started:

1. Focus on “readability”

Whereas “accessibility” refers to the more structural part of your content, “readability” defines how easy it is to understand and remember what you’ve written.

In order to write readable content, the best suggestion we can make is to use plain language. This means little to no jargon, flowery adjectives, complex sentences, and/or metaphors.

Because while these might make sense to a native speaker, they might also confuse others who need the help of a translator to understand the content. 

Other suggestions to help improve your text’s readability are:

  • Provide definitions for specific terms
  • Keep the same meaning of your words throughout the text (for example, make sure you’re always using a word in the same way)
  • Write in short sentences

PRO TIP: If you’re working on WordPress, we love using Yoast SEO to test our blog’s readability score! The plug-in also helps by highlighting problem areas, which means easy editing!

Most experts suggest writing copy and content at an 8th-grade level. According to studies, texts that fill in this category will be understood by at least 85% of the population. 

And, when in doubt, write like Hemingway.

2. Pay attention to structure

Connected to readability is also the importance of structuring your website copy for maximum accessibility.

Think of it this way: long blocks of text are hard to read, boring, and impossible to skim. Unfortunately, people just don’t read anymore, and you need to be ready to adapt to this new need to deliver information quickly.

This means:

  • Using headings and subheadings
  • Breaking up your text into shorter sections
  • Choosing contrasting colors
  • Using bullet points & numbered lists

By using these elements, readers who might need additional help to consume online content – like people using screen readers, or those with color blindness – will have a much easier time understanding what you’re saying. 

Focusing on how it looks is just as important as paying attention to what you’re saying – especially if you’re self-publishing! 

3. Use “alt text” on your images

Alternate text, also called “alt text”, refers to the image descriptions that are tucked into the HTML code of a website.

These are especially important for people with visual impairments. When using a screen reader, the alt text will be read aloud so that users don’t miss out on anything that’s on the page just because they can’t see it.

READ: How to Implement Inclusive Marketing in Your Content Strategy

When it comes to writing good alt text, we suggest that you:

  • Use descriptive language to add meaning to each image
  • Leave it blank for purely decorative images (this lets the screen reader know it can skip it)
  • Avoid referring to gender or race if it doesn’t add value/isn’t necessary to understand the image

PRO TIP: Alt text isn’t just helpful for people with a disability. Readers who live in countries where the internet speed is quite low can also benefit from this! If they turn off image downloads, they’ll still be able to see the alt text of what the image represents.

Also, although not necessarily considered “alt text” per se, multimedia content (as in, video) also comes with its own set of guidelines. Closed captions and subtitles are especially useful for users who can’t hear what you’re saying, and should always be employed!

The importance of website copy accessibility

As an online business owner, website copy accessibility is important because it helps you reach more people while, at the same time, creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

It’s no secret that businesses today are a lot more globalized than before. As such, making sure that everyone has equal access to what they provide – especially so in terms of copy and content – should be at the front of every marketing strategy. 

When it comes to accessibility, here are three of the main tips we suggest:
1. Focus on “readability”
2. Pay attention to structure
3. Use “alt text” on your images

Accessibility is a long-running process that takes time and effort, but it will also yield meaningful results. Not just in terms of growth, but also when it comes to building a community.

How do you work towards making your content more accessible? Let us know in the comments!

Enjoyed this post? You might like these, too:
How to Get Brand Ambassadors With Your Brand Message
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