Usable and accessible web design

When your customer lands on your website, whether it is from a search engine or from typing in your website address, they have to have a really good first impression. Otherwise they will just click off your site and go elsewhere.

Your site needs to look professional and trustworthy. Once the customer has stayed on your site for more than 5 seconds, your website then needs to work properly, and give them the information they need in a usable manner.

The following are good ideas for what every website should have in order to be accessible and usable:

Image depicting different size text

Clear readable type

Tiny fonts can look stylish, as can text in a light colour - but how many of your customers can read it? 1 in 3 men are colourblind - have you considered this when deciding on your font colour?

Mimimal use of Flash and moving images

There is nothing more distracting and annoying than a web page moving around and dancing at you. Flash images can be stylish and when used correctly can enhance your website - but are you using them gratuitiously just because you can?

Image of a sign post, hightlighting good navigation on a webpageClear easy to use navigation

In my opinion there is nothing worse on a web page than it looking fantastic, but just not being able to find what you are looking for, or being able to get back to it easily. There is no excise for bad navigation.

Sensible use of images

Images are important. They can make a page look far more attractive - a full page of text can look daunting or just plain dull, but don’t overdo the use of images, and make sure they are relevant. Images are crucial for an ecommerce site, but make sure all images are correct, and informative.

Fast load time

Gone are the days when most people are using a slow dial up connection to the internet. However just becasue broadband is much more widespread, it doesn’t mean all pages load quickly. Bulky images are the cause of many websites taking an age to load. Before uploading make sure your images are in the right format and the right size.

Broken links, missing tags for images, missing pages

Image of an example page not foundIf you click on a link on your webpage it should work - It should also be underlined, otherwise how would somebody know it is a hyperlink?

Keep checking your site to make sure all links are still valid - this is especially true if you link to an outside source, if they change their site - your link will no longer work. Screen readers (and Google) will not see images on your site, but will read the ALT tag. Which is more useful? “Pic of woman” or “Photo of woman entering our shop on Paradise Street”

Too little too soon

Don’t be so eager to have your website on the internet that every page says ‘coming soon’. Customers will just go away, forget about your company and find someone else. It won’t hurt to be patient and wait for a fully functional website. One or two coming soons is OK, but not the majority of your site.

Cross browser and screen resolution compatibility

Image of Internet Explorer Firefox and Safari Browser logosYour website might look great on your PC but what about everyone else. What works in Internet Explorer might well look totally different in Firefox. Different browsers work differently, and apply code differently. You can go too far though. It makes no sense to check every browser, if only a handful of people use a particular browser, it is not cost efficient to make sure your website works on that one. Your website should work on all the most popular browsers.

Microedge√ā¬†websites are tested in the following browsers: Internet Explorer 7.0, 6.0. Firefox 3.0 . 2.0 & Safari 3.2, 3.1. We will happily check other browsers but if support for other browsers is required this needs to be made clear before the start of the project.

Don’t forget about screen resolution. 600×400 screen resolution is still there but not popular like it once was. However, screen size and resolutions do vary, make sure your website doesn’t have those annoying scrollbars across the bottom, with part of the right hand side of your pages missing.

Clean clear design

Don’t feel the need to fill all your page with text and images - don’t be afraid to use white space. It could be the most powerful item on your page!

If you are looking for an accessible website designer please contact Microedge.

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