Sunday | May 9, 2021
Unlock Your Potential Creating Understandable Content to Increase Your Website Accessibility
Do you struggle to connect with your clients or viewership? Suppose you haven’t considered your content and its accessibility. In that case, you might miss out on thousands of people interested in what you offer.
With all of your research done and knowing there is a sizable audience for your content, you might be interested to know that it is a major deal-breaker for many people when content is hard to understand or digest.
Accessible web design is, at its core, creating a web space that all can consume – be it a broad audience or one who sometimes has significant disabilities hindering them. Likewise, understandable web content is at the core of inclusive web design. After all, you are writing and creating content that makes sense to all readers, not just a group of people.
Today, we will take the time to consider the content and what can help make it understandable and more consumable. Then, we’ll go through the how’s, the whys, and the ways it can elevate your design in a way that feels effortless.
What Makes Web Content Understandable?
The best understandable content uses simple language and keeps the writing concise and readable for all users, no matter their situation. In addition, understandable content focuses on clearing out unnecessary jargon and not writing in long sentences.
You don’t want your users to need a college degree in order to understand your content. I have seen many websites out there that use language so complicated that it feels like you need a Ph.D. just to understand it.
Yes! it might be the case that your audience is people who have degrees and Ph.D.’s., but that is not an excuse to write content that adds cognitive load to your readers. Accessible content feels effortless and demystifies complex things in order to facilitate readability and deliver its message with efficiency in the least amount of words possible.
By creating easy-to-comprehend and accessible content, you’re ensuring that everyone who visits your site can read and take in the content you’re offering.
If you’re wondering if your content is understandable – ask yourself a few questions. Re-assessing where you stand is a healthy way to get a better idea.
Does your content include headings, subtitles, or summaries? Do you provide captions or alternative text for your images? Do you provide images, or other visual cues, to help your readers take in the information?
Your content can be more accessible – there’s always a new perspective to consider, and that’s where feedback comes in handy. You can start from the beginning or work on them after the fact – accessibility isn’t simply one thing you can do, but a whole wide array of things that can elevate your content for an even broader appeal.
Who is benefitting from writing accessible content?
A better question for this might be, “who doesn’t benefit from understandable content”? The answer shouldn’t shock you – everyone can benefit. It’s helpful for people looking to get a glance at your material – a website with easy-to-grasp concepts will always win out over one that’s bogged down with hard-to-understand language, thick paragraphs, and lacking in images to break it up.
But, beyond the general audience, audiences you may not realize will appreciate the extra effort to include them. These audiences are untapped potential, people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to enjoy your content.
This includes people with learning disabilities who can’t take in complex language and sentence structure, people with cognitive difficulties like dyslexia, aphasia, people with low literacy or academic skills, and more.
Your content can benefit an array of people by simplifying some structures and providing readability alternatives for them. You’re giving a whole wide variety of people who struggle to focus or reading by accommodating these needs and bridging that gap, and in the end, the one who will benefit most is you and your content.
A little tip: When writing content, keep it to three sentences per paragraph if they are medium size or just two if they are long sentences. This will make your content easier to read and navigate for people with cognitive disabilities.
It may benefit you more than you realize; the effects of understandable content extend far past the concept that more people will read your content. This will undoubtedly help, but by doing this, you’ll see a boost in your SEO results, allowing you to reach a wider audience.
You may also notice that, because of the ease of your new content, you’ll see more repeat viewers. Your mobile viewers will be more likely to stick around if the text is short and easily condensed on such a small device.
How to Get Started
You may need to look objectively at the content you’re providing to better understand the gaps creating inaccessibility. Writing accessibly and understandably means writing with your users’ needs in mind – who is reading your content, and why? Do you have tons of long-winded paragraphs that can fatigue a reader without line breaks?
You aren’t writing specifically for people with disabilities. Instead, you are writing to appeal to the broadest potential audience you can, including people with disabilities, and there lies the difference.
Ask yourself: How will my site visitors access and engage with the content both visually and auditorily? How have you considered the experience, on the whole, and if you have – how can you improve the content?
When you’re getting started, keep some things in mind. Some areas to consider include:
Images – is it important? Does it align with your site’s purpose? Will it help you illustrate the point you’ve placed it with? If it’s decorative, is it important? If you’ve included it, have you considered adding alt text to describe it for people who may struggle with those?
Headings – Are you using headings to the best of your ability? Are you providing value to your readers? Are the headings improving the overall experience of reading?
URLS – If your content includes links, are they descriptive? What does this mean? For example, suppose you link to a downloadable pdf about climate change in 2021. In that case, it should say “download our 2021 climate change report” instead of the link saying “download report.”
Buttons – Is it hard to find buttons on your site? Making your links, URLs, and buttons accessible is an excellent way to direct and help readers navigate your content with ease, which will retain more users overall. Using the download climate report example above as a reference is an excellent way to keep links accessible because it will give sighted and non-sighted users context.
Animation, distracting elements – Does your website incorporate flashy imagery or animations? Using features like parallax or gifs throughout your content can distract from your content or cause visual strain. Instead, you could include more clear, static images to boost user readability and experience.
In conclusion, changing your content doesn’t mean leaving holes in the information you’re providing to satisfy a minority. So don’t think about it as just making accommodations for people with disabilities, but more about improving your overall website experience, allowing yourself the benefit of increased readership.
Considering accessibility needs is an essential part of expanding your reach and allowing more people to benefit from the content you’ve created.
Did you find this information helpful? First, allow me to share a link to the Hemingway App Website, one of my favorite tools for writing and simplifying the content. Then, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, please click the like button to support more content like this.
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