7 Ways to Make Your Website, Emails More Accessible

June 20, 2018

As a real estate professional, you likely know a lot about universal design in homes, a tenet that provides property accessibility for people with special needs and the ability to age in place. But what about "inclusive design" for your real estate website and e-marketing? Similar to the purpose of universal design for homeowners, inclusive design allows all home shoppers, regardless of disabilities or assistive devices, to take advantage of your website and emails.

“Consider the audio experience for those that have limited to no sight, or how the email may appear for someone who is colorblind,” says Meghan Sokolnicki, an email designer with Emma, an e-marketing platform. “Consistency between the audio and visual email experiences is huge, and perfect vision should not be a prerequisite for being on your mailing list.”

Here are seven adjustments to make to your digital communications to be more inclusive, according to Sokolnicki.

  1. Focus your message. Declutter the layout of your website and emails, and make sure your text has a clear focus, which will help all users but especially people with vision challenges and those with ADD/ADHD. White space is important in inclusive design, as is clean font styling.
  2. Use text fields. Using live text as opposed to text in images helps make emails and websites easier to read, and the text will retain its size on mobile devices. Also, don't be afraid to bump up the font size a few points. According to Emma, the minimum body copy size in an email should be 14 pixels, larger for headlines.
  3. Fill in those alt text fields. When an image fails to load, "alternative text" will appear on the page. Alt text allows screen readers to process the image information and transmit it your visually-impaired clients who are listening to your website or emails. Don’t simply repeat what’s stated in the caption. Make sure you describe the image in the alt text and include information a person would need to know if they can’t see the image. If your image has text in it, make sure that’s included in the alt text as well.
  4. Avoid using centered text. Centered text can be difficult to read for people with dyslexia, so use it sparingly, Sokolnicki advises.
  5. Don’t use images for clickable buttons. If you have navigation or call-to-action buttons on your site or in your emails, make sure they're "bulletproof" buttons, which are built in HTML and CSS instead of using image files like GIF, JPEG, or PNG files. Using image files adversely impacts the accessibility of your website and emails because screen readers might not be able to read them.
  6. Use color wisely. Make sure your background and text colors have a high contrast.
  7. Test your website and emails. Listen to an audio version of your website or emails. You can do this with a smartphone app. Run colorblind tests to make sure the communications are readable for all, and always test for mobile optimization—people should be able to read your website on their phone easily.

Source: “Why does email accessibility matter?” June 1, 2018, emma.com