9 Simple Tips For Creating A More Accessible Event Website
Event Marketers often go a bit wobbly when they hear the word accessibility. They envision monochrome designs, super-sized letters and boring text-only event websites. Don't worry, the reality is that accessibility is simply a key part of a great user experience.
If you have (or might have) attendees who have special accessibility requirements and want to create a user-friendly event website, this post is for you.
You feel morally responsible to ensure your event website experience is equally great for those less able. But you don't have to go over board. You're busy, we get it!
Here are 9 useful and incredibly easy-to-implement tips for you to try straight away.
1. Use Alt Tags in your images & pictures
'Alt' what? Alt tags are those little tiny words that pop up when you mouse over an image. What doesn't seem to be useful to add, it helps site visitors with visual impairment and who use a screen reader.
Why? Because screen readers can read those alt tags as if it was text.
Now don't get too excited. You still need to add something that makes sense.
For example, if you're adding a picture of your speaker, write out the speakers' name. If it's an object, use a couple of words to describe it. If you're showing a picture of your incredible venue, use the alt text "photo of incredible venue".
To make it super easy for you, we have added a some help within the Swoogo to give you a gentle reminder.
2. Create subtitles for your event videos
Seems obvious, right?
If your event website includes videos (and in these days, most do), provide subtitles that move along with the video. Popular video hosting platforms like Youtube or Wistia have tools available that allow you to add subtitles to your videos.
Even better, provide a transcription of the video so that screen readers can follow the content.
You'll make your visitor's life so much easier.
3. Describe your links
Not only will your visually impaired visitors love you, your site will also be more discoverable in search engines.
When you include a link in your event website, don't tell your audience to 'click here'. It's more useful to describe the link in a few words.
Also, if possible, underline your links and make sure that you have the right contrast between your hyperlink and the regular text. Contrast helps color-blind users fin the link immediately without having to hover over it with their mouse.
(More on contrast later down in this article...)
4. Keep your paragraphs simple and distinct
Use active voice instead of a passive one. If you have lots of text, break it up into smaller digestible paragraphs. Customers with learning disabilities or elderly people will find this helpful.
Naturally, this might not work on all your sites (it really depends on your event website content), but "About" or "Why" pages typically work well.
5. Use H1 tags for your headlines
H1 is a type of HTML code used for headings. Don't worry, we're not getting technical here. Headings make certain words stand out on a page.
On your event website, you'll often have headings, sub-headings and paragraphs.
You want to ensure that you have an H1 tag on each page.
If you're familiar with HTML you can even configure the title settings manually. This way, assistive technologies will understand how your content is organized.
Here's what you need to check:
Your event website has a heading, ideally one heading on each page
All text that looks like a heading is marked up as a heading
The hierarchy is meaningful, e.g. the page starts with an "h1" heading and follows by "h2", "h3" and so forth. Simple!
7. Black & white: Watch your contrast
Contrast can not only help you make your content look more attractive, it also helps the visually impaired.
Black on white or white on black is easily readable. Green on brown not so much.
Ideally, the recommended ratio between foreground and background color of your site should be 4.5:1. You probably have no idea, let alone time, to figure this out yourself. Don't fret, there are free tools, like Colorable, available to help you out.
Simply copy and paste your foreground & background color into the tool and you can see if your contract passes the test for web accessibility.
8. Add periods to abbreviations
Ever use words like LOL, VIP or B2B? I bet you do.
When you abbreviate your website content, make sure you put periods between each letter. For instance, if you're referring to your "Very Important People", write it out as V.I.P. rather than VIP.
Otherwise, screen readers may be unable to recognize the abbreviation and read it phonetically as a word, which might be confusing.
9. Stop the auto-play
In our blog post, 15 Things You're Doing Wrong With Your Event Website Design, we've already mentioned that auto-play on videos is simply annoying.
If your event website has an introductory video or audio clip, don't set it to play as soon as the user lands on your page.
If you're putting slideshows on auto-play, some people might be overwhelmed and prefer to go one slide at a time.
Using some of these usability tips benefit everyone. And search engines reward websites with good usability and clearly organized content.
Here are some things for you to remember:
Think about your target audience and how you can support less able delegates
Structure your event website with clearly defined Headings, Subheadings & Paragraphs
Add descriptive 'Alt' links to your images.
Remember, it's not just about making your event website accessible to people with disabilities. Everyone will benefit - it's a win-win.