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Why a Website Redesign Is the Perfect Time to Get Accessibility Right

Oct 15, 2019

Redesigning your website offers the perfect opportunity to consider accessibility. Rather than creating your site and trying to implement improvements later, begin with accessibility in mind.

Not only can you work in a timely, cost-efficient manner, but you can also optimize your site from the start, accommodate more users, and integrate accessibility as a top priority in your organization.

Best practices like those of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) exist and outline well-accepted rules to help you.

Start optimizing your site from the ground up

Whether you develop and manage your website in-house or by using a third party, starting with accessibility in mind means you can optimize the foundation of your site and avoid costly fixes in the future.

Even before development begins, you should start asking important questions such as:

  • What accessibility standards should we follow?
  • Who is responsible for our site’s accessibility?
  • Is our template, design, and/or vendor’s platform accessible?

By clearly answering questions like these, you can make sure that accessibility is one of the factors that guides your site’s creation. This helps you set clear goals for your development team, or if you’re using a vendor, you can identify any issues with their platform that stand in the way of your goals.

When you define who is responsible for your site’s accessibility and which guidelines to follow, you’re better prepared to optimize your site for all users.

Reconsider your ideal user

Your site’s redesign sometimes allows you to hit the reset button on a few areas, one of which could be the users you want to target.

Oftentimes, organizations design for their "ideal" user, which can create accessibility barriers and alienate users who don’t fall into that category. In the United States, this can include the roughly one-in-four adults with a disability.

When you have a solid foundation on which to build your website, you can start designing to reach your accessibility goals and target more than your ideal user.

For example, choose a color palette that offers plenty of accessible color combinations. This is helpful to make sure content is easier to read in general, but especially for those who have a color vision deficiency or require a higher contrast to confidently read the content. Use the a11y® Color Contrast Accessibility Validator to help ensure your color scheme has adequate color contrast.

Another area to consider from the beginning is keyboard accessibility. Many people use only a keyboard, keyboard, emulator, or other input device, so it’s important to make sure your site is accessible even without the use of a mouse. In fact, you can Give Yourself an Accessibility Test to help redesign your site with this in mind, so you can provide the intended experience for more users.

Of course, consider accessibility when designing all elements of your site. Prioritizing accessibility in site structure and navigation, with a mobile-friendly design, can make it easier to filter accessibility throughout every level of the site and add benefits like improved search engine optimization (SEO).

Redesigning your website to be more accessible means that you can appeal to a larger audience, which benefits your organization and your users.

Integrate accessibility into your organization

With your website’s redesign, you can make accessibility a top priority in your organization. From planning to development and beyond, it’s important to realize that accessibility requires regular monitoring and maintenance. By prioritizing accessibility, you can align your resources to ensure that you meet the needs of users now and in the future.

One key component is having the right expertise, whether you’re working with in-house experts or external talent. These accessibility professionals are qualified to help you meet requirements, implement best practices, and make sure that you keep up with standards. They can also help you define processes and roles that are vital to your site’s redesign, as well as to any changes or enhancements that you make later.

Related: How to Hire Top Talent with an Accessibility Mindset

When you strive to make your website more accessible, it’s extremely helpful to get all your teams thinking about accessibility. This ensures that from the beginning, you hire the right experts and allocate your resources appropriately. By making accessibility a top-of-mind priority in your organization, you’ll be able to redesign your website to provide the best experience for all users.

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