Monday, April 11, 2011

Accessible Web Design - How To Create A Website That Everyone Can View

It's easy to get carried away when designing a website. Web design is an art. It's like painting a portrait or writing a novel - it's hard to be objective when it comes to your own work. You need an outsider's perspective to be able to see things the way they should be. But sometimes, all you need is a few well-defined tips on how to do things right.

One way to ensure you have a great website is by getting more and more people to visit your website and get more hits. This simply won't happen if only 1/3 of the internet population can view your website due to technical issues. Here are some tips to make sure your website is working for everyone:

1. Be careful with images
Images are great to have on a website. They break up the monotony of too many words on the screen. But the problem is, especially for websites with lots of images, not everyone's computer can handle loading all those images at once. And when your page takes too long to load, the user might just back out and look for another website.

So make sure you don't go overboard on images, and website readability is important, too. Make sure you code your website so it displays an alternative text whenever the user turns off image loading. Trust me, this is a great help.

2. Working with Flash
Images are great, but Flash is awesome. Flash makes the page come alive. But Flash also has a similar problem - in fact, Flash takes even longer to load than images. If the same user is having a hard time loading images, what more with Flash?

The standard practice is whenever you design a Flash website you need to have an equivalent text version of that website. This is for people who are still connected through 56k modems and other slower internet connection speeds.

3. Limitations of JavaScript
JavaScript is the technology that powers most modern websites. Without it, we'd all be stuck with plain old HTML.

But the problem with JavaScript is that older computers seem to have a tough time loading it for viewing on the screen, so some people simply turn it off. An easy workaround is to design an equivalent HTML version of the website that loads when JavaScript is turned off by the user.

All these website technologies can easily be turned off the user at will. As a web designer, you need to be able to prepare for these situations, and create a low-graphics version of your website so low-end users can still enjoy your work even though their computer and connection can't seem to be able to handle it.

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