Your website sucks because it only works for some people

Your site is gorgeous. 😍 Looks amazing - to me, anyway.

But how does it look to the visually impaired? Can they even read your headings?

How does it sound to the millions of internet users who use a screen reader?

The answer is probably “like a hot mess.” Not as bad as this tweet

… but not great.

The good news is that a few straightforward fixes can greatly improve your site’s accessibility, and they’re good for conversion too.

Here's what you can do

Add alt text for every image as you upload it

Make it concise and descriptive. Make sure anybody with the ability to upload images to your site understands the importance of adding alt text.

Add alt text to old images

If you need to retroactively add alt text to your site, it might feel overwhelming.

Don’t worry - start with your highest-traffic page first (check Google Analytics), and run it through this tool to see if it needs updates. Then move on to the 2nd page in the list, and repeat.

Simplify your primary navigation

“If you link to it, they will come” … said no one, ever.

Cramming an entire sitemap into your header does sighted visitors no favors - it’s an overwhelming number of options.

But it’s even worse for people using screen readers, which will read the entire navigation before getting to the page contents.

So just put your most relevant, most-visited links in the navigation. Kick the rest to the footer.

(If this isn’t an option, consider adding a skipnav link.)

Label your form fields

It looks so tidy to use placeholder text to label your form fields:

… but don’t do it. This makes it confusing for sighted visitors when they have to navigate back to a previous field (“Wait, am I in Name or Password now?”) and it leaves screen reader users without any context at all.

Just add labels. Put them above the input field.

Make your copy clear and concise

If a page is full of convoluted, abstruse language, sighted visitors will mostly just ignore the copy altogether. (Not good.)

But visitors using screen readers will have to listen to it all. (Even worse.)

They don’t get to enjoy the benefit of your fancy animations and visual effects. Just that overlong, mediocre copy.

Load up your homepage, or top landing page. Try reading it out loud. Or take 15 minutes to install and try out a screen reader.

The parts where you cringe, or start getting bored - those are where you need to make edits.

Confession: My website sucks

Looking over previous posts in this series, I realized I haven’t added alt text to images. There’s no excuse for that - I just failed to look for the option in the Substack interface … because it was easier not to bother.

But the images in this post have alt text, and I’ll be taking my own advice - updating previous posts, starting with the most popular. I hope you’ll join me.