A few years back, one of the project managers in my company had his mouse die on him. I had to show him that you could actually navigate the web with his keyboard. Recently, I was reminded of this during an accessibility audit. Ever try to navigate a website with hope and a tab key? Give it a try. It will make you think about accessibility a lot more.
WordPress is a widely used CMS
WordPress is present behind the scenes for about 26% of the web. Just check out the statistics on Wappalyzer’s site. WordPress currently represents 67% of the market share of websites analyzed by this extension. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to talk about accessibility and WordPress themes.
The accessibility-ready tag
Speed wasn’t a real issue for a long time until Google decided that it was.
The web should be fast. – Google
Remember that quote? It’s the one I have to tout to so many clients to get them to understand that a 9 second page load time is pure insanity from a visitor standpoint.
The WordPress Accessibility Team is doing a great job of making an impact in terms of accessibility with the accessibility-ready tag among other things. This tag allows you to quickly tell the world that your WordPress theme is accessibility-ready right in the WordPress Theme Directory.
The tag’s integrity is ensured because every theme with an accessibility-ready tag is tested and all accessibility issues detected (if any) are taken care of before the theme goes live.
Accessibility and aesthetics
One of the main issues I’ve come across during website redesigns is that accessibility is ignored by some designers because it doesn’t fit with their vision. If your vision manages to exclude close to 15% of the adult population in Canada maybe your vision needs to be descoped a bit.
Almost 20 years ago, we were making websites in tables. Yes they were horrible but guess what? Most visitors couldn’t tell. They were just happy the information they were consuming was available to them in an orderly manner and not all over the place. Let’s do that with accessibility! Let’s make it part of the process. Presenting the information in an orderly manner for everyone should be something to strive for. Turning this information in a beautiful, riveting and unique experience should come after.
Making a beautiful website that’s not accessible is like making a commercial with puppies to sell anything. Sure, we all love puppies but will we remember what the commercial was about? Not really because the content was secondary.
Granted some things are meant to be all about the sensory experience. In that case, sure, it’s a conceptual thing. Run with it. But if you are meant to provide me with important information, pretty isn’t going to cut it. I as a human need to find it fast, understand it, make a decision.
Ease of use
If you work in anything that is human related and that requires a keyboard, you have a backstage pass to all that goes on. Use it wisely. Use it to influence how the rest of the world can access and enjoy the stuff you produce.
Does that mean you should know exactly how to go about making your WordPress website accessible? Yes!
There are different levels of “knowing” accessibility:
- As a developer you should be create WordPress themes are satisfy accessibility standards
- As a designer, color contrast and readability should be something you keep an eye on
- As a content writer, your words should reach your audience, whatever reading level they have
- As a UX specialist, you should know that the “average user” experience is not going to cut it
- As a website owner, picking your website shouldn’t be a chore. All the guys I listed above you should have contributed to making your website creation experience something that integrates accessibility. You should be aware and ensure your website is accessible when you choose your look and feel or your template or your CMS.
Accessibility isn’t out of reach for a WordPress template
Meeting the accessibility standards isn’t that hard when you design a Wordpress theme. I’m not going to lie, when you go on the Ontario accessibility guidelines, it sometimes feels like you are reading a vague manual to operate a time machine. But the WordPress guys have gone above and beyond to make this…well…accessible for most us humans making websites.