When it comes to today’s websites, of the Three A’s (Audience, Application, Accessibility), perhaps accessibility is most important. No matter who your audience is or how well you’ve applied good elements, if your website is inaccessible, it serves no purpose.
We hear this word all the time these days. What’s it mean?
Accessibility means making your website accessible, or viewable, to as many people possible, no matter what browser or device they’re using.
The internet isn’t just for computers anymore. According to The Kelsey Group, almost 40 percent of users of mobile devices such as ipods, iphones and Blackberries are using them to access the internet. And you don’t have to live under a rock to know mobile devices are commonplace to anyone under the age of 50.
As Christians, there’s another online presence we should consider: those with disabilities using special browsers to accommodate their needs. Many of our old ways of designing, such as frames and outdated coding, are inaccessible to people using such browsers.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) offers extremely detailed instructions for online accessibility. In reality, this reads a bit like Greek to most of us. Here are a few basics, however, to get you started:
Flash is fancy. Flash is fun. And nowadays most computers can handle it. But mobile devices and many browsers for visually impaired viewers still cannot. Use Flash as an accessory but never for vital content.
Mobile device screens utilize lots of vertical scrolling. Now’s the time to get rid of that introductory splash page and your wide width dimensions. If you’re designing specifically for mobile devices, downsize your site to a width of 320 pixels and put your best and most sought after information at the top of the page.
Use semantic code (at least HTML 4.0 Transitional)
Sorry folks, Word, Publisher and FrontPage just don’t cut it. These are not reliable web design programs and the code they deliver do not meet today’s standards. Learn to code. Use a true WYSIWYG program such as Dreamweaver.
Does all this seem too complicated?
Well, sometimes it might just make more sense to consider a professional. Let them do what they’re good at, so you have time to do what you’re good at.