Hello, fellow Webflow enthusiasts! We've all been there, staring in awe at the beautifully designed, interactive, responsive website you built on Webflow. It's truly a sight to behold. But as you pat yourself on the back, I'm here to tell you that you might have overlooked a few critical aspects – factors that could make or break your site for many users. Of course, I'm talking about web accessibility.
You might be thinking, "What's web accessibility, and why should I care?" Sit tight because we're going on a journey to discover what it is, who benefits from it, why it's essential, and how your Webflow site might fall short.
Understanding Web Accessibility
In the simplest terms, web accessibility means making your website usable for everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It's about inclusivity and ensuring every visitor can navigate, understand, and interact with your site effectively.
Who benefits from web accessibility? Everyone. It's not just about assisting those with disabilities. Sure, it's critical for individuals with visual impairments, hearing difficulties, motor disabilities, and cognitive issues. Still, it's also about the mom holding a baby in one hand and trying to navigate your site with the other or the guy squinting at his phone in the bright sunlight.
To guide us through the maze of accessibility, we have the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) – a set of recommendations to make web content more accessible.
For context, here are some stats on just how inaccessible the web currently is:
- In an analysis of over 30,000 websites, Tenon found an average of 110 accessibility errors per page. (Tenon, 2021)
- 86.4% of home pages have low contrast text. Low contrast text, which falls below the WCAG 2 AA thresholds, is the most commonly-detected accessibility issue. (WebAIM, 2021)
- In a survey by Nucleus Research and Deque Systems, 70% of websites, ranging from top ecommerce sites to presidential campaign sites, had critical accessibility blockers. (Nucleus Research, 2019)
Now that we have a basic understanding of web accessibility let's dive into the main ways your Webflow site might be falling short.
1. Insufficient Text Contrast
You might love that pastel-on-pastel look, but it could be better for readability. Text contrast refers to how readable your text is against its background. Too little difference, and your words blend into the background. This issue doesn't just affect people with low vision; it affects everyone in less-than-ideal viewing conditions.
To fix this, ensure a high contrast between your text and background. WCAG recommends a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for standard text. Plenty of online tools can help you check this, so there are no excuses for blinding your visitors with pastel-on-pastel crimes!
2. Lack of Alt Text for Images
Alt text is the invisible description of images that are read aloud to blind users on a screen reader. If your images lack alt text, you're effectively leaving out content for these users. It's also a missed opportunity for SEO, as search engines also read the alt text.
In Webflow, you can add alt text in the image settings panel. Be sure to write descriptive alt text that provides context. For example, "Dog" is good, but "A golden retriever playing with a blue ball" is better.
3. Missing or Inadequate Keyboard Navigation
Some people navigate websites using only the keyboard, particularly people with motor disabilities. If your website doesn't support keyboard navigation, it's as good as inaccessible for them.
In Webflow, ensure that all interactive elements can be accessed using the Tab key and activated using the Enter key. Also, remember to provide visible focus indicators to show which element is currently selected.
4. Inappropriate Use of ARIA Roles and Attributes
ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications, and it's a set of attributes you can add to HTML elements to make them more accessible. When used correctly, they can significantly enhance accessibility. But when misused, they can actually make your site less accessible.
If you're using ARIA roles and attributes, make sure you understand what each one does and how they should be used. The rule of thumb is, don't use ARIA unless you have to, and always prefer native HTML elements over ARIA.
Tools for Evaluating Accessibility
Improving accessibility can seem like a daunting task, but thankfully, there are many tools out there that can help. Tools like WAVE, accessiBe, or even the built-in accessibility audit feature in Google Chrome's developer tools can provide valuable insights on improving your site's accessibility. Use these tools regularly to keep your site as accessible as possible.
Web accessibility isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a must-have. It benefits everyone, not just those with disabilities. By making your Webflow site more accessible, you're improving the user experience for all your visitors and opening your site up to a broader audience.
So next time you're admiring your beautiful Webflow creation, take a moment to think about accessibility. Run some checks, and make some changes. Because everyone deserves to experience the web in all its glory, and you have the power to make that happen.
Remember, the road to accessibility is a journey, not a destination. There's always more to learn, more to improve. So let's all do our part to create a more inclusive internet experience. Happy designing, folks!