When thinking about web accessibility people often think about technology: from screen readers to mobile phones, websites need to be flexible enough to adapt to the many ways people now access the web. But good accessibility is also in the details – writing accessible copy shows you care about your readers and it helps search engines too.
Start with helpful headers
Use headers to break up your text, and make sure they are coded correctly with the right header tags (such as H1 for your main headers). Clear and straightforward headers help people find the information they’re looking for by signposting what’s on the page, so avoid repetition and try to keep the important words at the start. Headers also make it easier to skim read the page – one every two or three paragraphs is about the frequency to look for. People using screen readers need the structure of headers to navigate, but we all use them to find what we’re looking for quickly.
Simplify body copy
Keeping sentences short and clear is better for everyone. Aim for about 10 to 15 words – if you come across a complicated longer sentence, just break it down into each separate idea. Put the important information at the start of the sentence, and the important sentences at the start of the paragraph. Write in plain English and avoid using jargon. Make understanding your site a breeze – don’t make people work for it.
Make sure a screen reader knows exactly where a link will go: “click here” is not good enough, especially when it occurs multiple times on a page. The context of the proceeding sentence is not enough; make sure the link is a clear signpost in itself. Often the title of the page you’re linking to makes a good link text. As with body copy, put the most important word first if possible.
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This helps everyone know that clicking will start a download – which might not be wanted on a phone or tablet – and exactly how much space it will take up.
Copywriters have a part to play in making sure your message is accessible to all, no matter the device or equipment being used to receive it. If a potential customer has taken the time to visit your site, following these simple guidelines can help make sure they stick around.