Webdesign Services

10 WordPress Plugins to Help Improve Website Accessibility

WordPress provides you with a decent head start when it comes to creating accessible websites. For example, recent default themes like Twenty Seventeen are already built with accessibility in mind. But that doesn’t mean that your work is done.

There are still plenty of items to check off your list to ensure that everyone has access to your site’s navigation and content. Thankfully, this is one of the areas where the plugin development community has really stepped up. We now have access to a wide selection of tools to help us meet the challenges of accessibility.

Here is a collection of WordPress plugins that can help improve your site’s accessibility:

WP Accessibility

WP Accessibility (authored by Joe Dolson, who we recently interviewed) is a multi-function plugin that solves common accessibility issues.

Its most outward feature is a font size and color contract toolbar that helps users more easily read your content. But it also does a lot of behind-the-scenes work like adding skip-to-content links, implementing an outline to the link :focus state for better keyboard navigation, utilizing longdesc for images, and a whole lot more. Each feature can be turned on or off through a settings page.

WP Accessibility Helper

WP Accessibility Helper adds a user-friendly toolbar to your site that lets users select different color contrasts (they can choose from a selection of color schemes) and adjust font size to their liking. But it goes above and beyond with user options for underlining or highlighting links, grayscale images, changing fonts and keyboard navigation.

The plugin also boasts a DOM scanner that will check your site for various accessibility errors. There’s also a pro version that adds even more goodies.

WP Accessibility Helper

Accessibility Widget

If you want a simple way to enable users to enlarge text, the Accessibility Widget is a nice option. It’s a minimally-styled widget that offers up “Small,” “Medium,” and “Large” text links. Settings let you determine which HTML elements are affected and how big (or small) fonts should be.

Accessibility Widget

Accessibility Checker by Equalize Digital

Accessibility Checker offers you real-time feedback on your site’s content. Once published or saved as a draft, content is scanned for accessibility. The plugin then provides a visual overview (and the offending code) of any issues that it finds.

The free version will scan an unlimited number of posts and pages. The Pro version ups the ante by covering custom post types, offering a centralized open accessibility issues list and will help you draft an accessibility statement for your website.

Accessibility Checker by Equalize Digital

Access Monitor

WordPress plugins are at their best when they save you time. Access Monitor can do that by performing automated weekly or monthly accessibility scans. Configure the plugin to test a custom set of pages and it will return a list of “definite” issues. That is, the plugin will only report issues that are machine-testable. This cuts down on the number of false-positive results that tend to plague automated scans.

To use Access Monitor, you’ll need to grab a free API key from the Tenon.io service.

Access Monitor

Zeno Font Resizer

Typography plays a huge role in website accessibility. If your site’s fonts are too small, it may be inaccessible to many users. Zeno Font Resizer is here to help.

The plugin allows users to resize text to their liking via a widget (the resizer can also be implemented via a code snippet in your theme). You can set the minimum and maximum font sizes, along with the amount of sizing change for each “step” up or down the scale.

Zeno Font Resizer

One Click Accessibility

One Click Accessibility will add a handy toolbar on the front end that lets your site’s visitors tweak a variety of accessibility settings. They can resize fonts, change color contrast and underline hyperlinks.

On the back end, you can customize which items are available on the toolbar. In addition, there are settings that add outline focus to all links, add a skip-to-content link and remember user preferences.

One Click Accessibility

Bulk Auto Image Alt Text

If your site’s images are missing ALT attributes, that means they’re inaccessible to users of screen readers. They could be missing out on important information.

One way to resolve this issue is through a plugin like Bulk Auto Image Alt Text. The plugin will use items such as post titles or Yoast SEO focus keywords on images that don’t already have an ALT attribute set. It works automatically, so you don’t need to go through every bit of media yourself.

Just note that descriptive ALT attributes are better for accessibility. Thus, this plugin may serve as more of a stopgap solution.

Bulk Auto Image Alt Text (Alt tag, Alt attribute) optimization (image SEO) + WooCommerce

WP ADA Compliance Check Basic

WP ADA Compliance Check Basic will automatically scan your site’s content for the most common accessibility errors. It then provides you with a report that points out potential issues and remedies for fixing them.

The free version of the plugin is limited to 25 pages/posts per scan. Upgrade to the full version of the plugin to remove that limitation. Plus, it will additionally check theme files and automatically fix issues for you.

WP ADA Compliance Check Basic

Accessibility New Window Warnings

While it’s common practice to set hyperlinks to open in a new browser tab, it can also be disorienting for some users. Accessibility New Window Warnings can help by providing users with a warning message before the new tab is opened.

There are no settings to configure. Activating the plugin will add an accessible tooltip to links, which is visible upon hover. As a bonus, it also integrates with the Accessibility Checker plugin mentioned above.

Accessibility New Window Warnings

Leave No User Behind

The past few years have brought great awareness to the importance of creating an accessible website. While the process of ensuring you’ve covered all your bases takes time, it’s very much worth the extra effort. Using the tools profiled above is a great way to add features (visible or not) that will help every user get the most out of your WordPress site.

The post 10 WordPress Plugins to Help Improve Website Accessibility appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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Webdesign Ideas

Clients Make Too Many UX Decisions. Here’s How to Stop Them.

The boundaries between a web designer and their client can often become blurred. Designers, in an effort to please paying customers, put client feedback into action – even if it leads the project in the wrong direction.

A client may be pleased with themselves and happy to get their own way. But at what cost? The ensuing results aren’t always pretty. Crowded layouts, inaccessible design elements, and a general sloppiness can seriously harm the user experience (UX).

For example, consider a client who meddles in the design details of their eCommerce website. Leaving UX decisions regarding product layouts, calls-to-action, and hero areas to a non-designer could be disastrous for sales. And yet, any potential fallout may land squarely on your shoulders. Fair? I think not.

Therefore, it’s up to us to prevent such silliness from happening in the first place. Let’s explore some ways to keep clients at a safe distance from UX.

Define the Stakes

User experience is a critical factor for every website. Yet, clients aren’t always fully aware of what’s at stake. As is often the case, it’s up to web designers to provide some background.

It’s worth taking the time to talk about the importance of accessibility and ease of use. How the design of each element within a page needs to be measured against these factors. Oh, and the massive roles that performance and mobile compatibility play as well.

Then there’s the matter of personal preference. Clients often (and unwittingly) put their own opinions above the needs of the average user. Sometimes, implementing their preference is a detriment to everyone else.

The importance of UX and its contributing factors should be brought up from the very start. When clients are informed, they’ll be more likely to follow your lead.

Welcome Feedback, but Set Boundaries

How does a client go from providing useful feedback to taking over a designer’s job? It’s often subtle and can happen quicker than you think.

To be sure, some people insist on having control of a given situation. They may be just as likely to stand over the plumber fixing their leaky pipes as they are to pester a web designer.

In other cases, the mere fact that a client is paying good money for your services gives them a certain sense of entitlement. And although they may be well-meaning, it can lead to overstepping boundaries.

The dilemma is that getting a client’s feedback is necessary for a successful outcome. But it can also be fertile ground for such a takeover. So, how do you prevent it from happening?

The key is in setting clear guidelines. For example, defining goals for a particular item and asking for feedback based on those parameters.

Consider the hero area of a home page. Let’s say you’ve built something beautiful and need client approval. You might approach them by saying something like:

“I’ve set up the hero area, please take a look! Here is what we were hoping to achieve:

  • Introduce branding elements, including the logo, colors and fonts;
  • Encourage users to subscribe to the mailing list;
  • Mention the 20% off discount for new subscribers;
  • Keep the entire area accessible, easy-to-read and concise;

What do you think?”

The example above isn’t all-encompassing. But it puts the stated goals into a client’s mind. This helps you to narrow the scope of their feedback and (hopefully) avoid anything that distracts from the desired outcome.

A sign that reads "We Hear You."

Put UX Back Into the Hands of Experts

Don’t get me wrong – clients should absolutely be involved in the design process. It’s their brand, after all. And things usually turn out best with their input.

But the heavy lifting of UX should be done by experts like you. Your job is to turn a client’s vision into something that is highly usable. It’s about establishing a brand while helping users get to where they want to go.

If all goes well, they’ll take the path to conversion – whether that means sales, contact, or a subscription. That’s simply too important to leave to client whims.

Instead, educate and work with your clients in an effort to drive home UX best practices. Provide them with parameters to work within. The result will be a website that benefits its owner and users alike.

The post Clients Make Too Many UX Decisions. Here’s How to Stop Them. appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.