I hope that this post isn’t offensive to disabled people – or to users of websites – and I appreciate that I am using the term ‘disabled’ lightly here (for simple lack of a better word). Accessibility is the thing that I’m trying to focus on here, because it’s an underrated aspect of website and content development. Now, Allow me to explain what I mean by most users being disabled.
Firstly – you have users who are, legitimately, disabled. They might have one hand, poor vision, arthritis or conditions that effect their ability to pay attention to one thing. All of these disabilities will effect a user’s ability to interact with a website. Some common disabilities such as colorblindness can even have an impact on a visitor’s experience. Naturally, designing a site to maximize your target audience – and retaining those that have disabilities – is a logical choice to make. With metrics such as CTR and time on site being so important for SEO, optimizing your site so that everyone can access them is, in a single word, good.
Now, I want to talk about people who don’t actually have disabilities, but are limited in some way, shape or form. Defining exactly what I’m trying to explain here is tough, so I’m going to give you a few examples of how a user can have their accessibility limited.
Example A: An SEO specialist is in bed one night with his girlfriend sleeping by his side.While in bed, the specialist was on his laptop, trying to brainstorm some ideas for a blog post. While researching, he came across a video about the psychology of reading that looked interesting. Sadly, the video had no transcript and, not wanting to disturb his sleeping girlfriend, watching it was out of the question. Because of this, he was unable to access the content that he wanted to access.
Example B: A 17-year old boy from the Philippines, who is preparing to study in Australia for one year, wants to find out about the laws surrounding riding a motorcycle in South Australia. After searching Google for details, he came across this page devoted to the rules and regulations pertaining to motorcyclists. Sadly, the website’s layout was difficult to navigate on his small Laptop’s screen and complicated words such as ‘adhere’, ‘astride’ and ‘pillion’ resulted in him being unable to engage with the content on a meaningful level. Additionally, the pictures were far too small and had no larger versions available.
While both of these examples feature individuals who are not disabled, they both have limitations in their capability to engage with the content they actively sought. The barriers that exist between content and user should be as limited as possible – both of these situations could have been avoided with better management of content publication.
There are several steps a user can take to improve the accessibility of their content, but it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to use them. After all, audio recordings of every blog post you create, as well as hand-translated material by native speakers, isn’t always the most viable way to ensure you’re accessing as many people as possible. Let’s have a look at some more user limitations and an appropriate way to accommodate for them.
Audio Limited – if you’ve got an article with a video, consider uploading it to YouTube for their auto transcribe feature. Alternatively, provide your own transcript.
Visually Limited – if your content is a video, consider writing an article that covers the bulk of the content contained within it.
Language Limited – simplify your language so that people who are not native speakers (or younger audiences) can understand it.
Time Limited – long articles are useful, but if you’re able to provide a ‘short’ or ‘streamlined’ version, consider doing so.
Bandwidth Limited – optimize your images, videos and audio so that those with limited bandwidth (or download caps) can still access your content.
Focus Limited – make your content flow and easy to engage with – people in crowded locations or who are simply tired might lack the ability to focus on poorly developed material.
Technologically Limited – some may struggle to understand concepts such as clicking on images to enlarge them. Include logical prompts (such as a magnifying glass) as well as text links to assist their browsing experience.
Interest Limited – while most users searches are prompted by interest, there are cases where someone’s interest in an idea is directly proportional to their perceived ability to understand it. Boring content isn’t going to keep someone around.
There are other examples of user limitations, but for the most part, that list covers the main elements to consider when building content for the purposes of search engine optimization.
Remember: time on site is a metric that Google will use to rank your site. The longer people spend engaging with your content, the higher you’ll rank.