Whether it is by email, social media, AdWords, or Thunderclaps, online marketing is the way that many organisations are finding the most success. Charities and businesses alike are finding that, in order to attract a consumer to their brand, they need to have an online presence. Most of these online presences are usually pretty and glittery, with a hint of amazingness (or a hint of cute-ness, a-la puppy pictures) which are designed to capture the consumers' attention. Disabled people are often forgotten about when designing online marketing collateral. In order to make online adverts and collateral accessible, here are my top five tips...
1. Pictures are king, but so are descriptions.
To put it simply, blind people can't see pictures. Similarly, surprisingly, screen readers can't interpret pictures because they're binary code in its simplest form. If you're going to use infographics - which everyone seems to be using these days - then please, please, please make sure that you have an accompanying description of what's in the infographic.
The complete description doesn't have to be placed in the title box or in the inline text (that would be impossible on Twitter) but it does have to be placed somewhere, in its entirety. My biggest tip for doing this would be to post the picture with a bit.ly link in the description to a page on your website which has a full text-version of your infographic for blind people to access.
2. Shakespeare was a wordsmith. You don't have to be.
The less words the better. If you're blind, screen readers are annoying; and if you're dyslexic, lots of text is impossible to read. The best adverts are short, snappy, and to the point. Don't overcomplicate adverts (or information in general) by adding lots of words or punctuation. Short sentences are also beneficial, but this is something I often struggle with...
3. "Blue and Green should never be seen".
Use colours which contrast well and which are easy to read. Blue on green is never going to work well. The best contrasting backgrounds are either black or white. Green or yellow text on black backgrounds work well, but not on white. Try to make it easily read and don't have soft colours. Bold colours are your friends.
4. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom...
Websites which are not zoom-able (for want of a better word) are the wort types of websites. If you're going to link to a website, please make sure it's accessible. Make sure you can actually zoom in on your website on a mobile device and make sure that the picture you're using to advertise it is able to be zoomed in on (and also make sure it has a description!). If we (blind people) can't zoom in on the website, we're probably not going to give it more than 3 seconds of our time.
5. Imagine you're in primary school - line up!
Don't get arty with the position of your text. Line it up and keep it simple. The easier to read, the better. Also, don't make the alignment justified - it's harder to read for those who are dyslexic. Simple lines and normal justification, that's the way it should be. Damn you, Word Art...
And, as an aside...
6. Pop ups: no, just no.
Not only are they annoying to non-disabled people, they're impractical. Imagine it: your screen reader is diligently reading out a page to you, a page full of text which dutifully describes the infographic you've just posted on Twitter, then BAM! A pop up appears advertising your other services. Not only has this interrupted the screen reader, it's also distracted the person listening to the text and completely disorientated them. Just don't use them, they're bad netiquette and they make people sad.
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