Your Blog Accessible – Checklist

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Accessible Blogs

With so many browsers, devices, and programs people use these days to access the Internet, webmasters must be extra cautious when building their blogs in order for them to be accessible to as many people as possible. The following is a checklist that webmasters can use to make their blogs as accessible as they can be.

Mobile Devices
The main thing that webmasters must keep in mind when building their blogs is that many individuals use smartphones and tablets to browse the web while on the go. Many of these individuals even depend completely on their mobile devices to access the Internet rather than using a laptop or desktop computer. While your content should show up on most mobile devices, the content may look different than it would on a computer. For this reason, webmasters should use smartphones, tablets, or emulator software to view how their webpages appear on mobile devices so that they can modify their layout in accordance. Some webmasters may even choose to create an entirely separate mobile version of their blog that are specifically catered to smartphone and tablet users.

Browser Compatibility
In addition to mobile compatibility issues, webmasters must remember that not all viewers are using the same web browser. While content usually appears the same in most web browsers, your website may not load some of its elements when viewed on outdated browsers or browsers that aren’t geared for that kind of programming. Internet Explorer, though extremely popular, is well known for its compatibility issues with many websites. Webmasters should ensure that their websites are setup to scale the resolution of pages and elements to ensure all viewers see the same content.

Legal Requirements
Although users in the United States, United Kingdom, and other first-world countries shouldn’t have a problem accessing anything on the Internet, some countries limit what their citizens have access to. China, for example, is well known for blocking many popular websites, such as Facebook. Webmasters can get around this by running their sites on proxy servers that are setup to automatically run when a third-world citizen tries to access the website or blog.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
In addition to users, webmasters must also make sure their blogs are accessible to search engines. Although search engines automatically look for websites and their content, they may not see the content as quickly as you would like if you haven’t setup any keywords or metadata. To ensure search engines see their latest content, webmasters can also manually submit their blogs to search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Visually Impaired
While devices, browsers, search engines, and legal issues are all things to watch out for, webmasters should also consider that some of their visitors may be visually impaired, whether they are  completely blind or simply far-sighted. Visually impaired individuals may rely on sounds and large images to tell them what they want to know, rather than reading text. Blind individuals, for example, often use speech software that reads text to them. When a website isn’t laid out correctly, however, this software may jumble up words and make it difficult for the individual to understand what you’re trying to tell them.

Hearing Impaired
Just like visually impaired individuals, some of your visitors may be hearing impaired and depend on text and images. If your site displays videos or animated characters to convey messages to your viewers, you should include a transcript on your site for those who can’t hear them.

User Choices
While devices and browsers may prevent users from viewing all of your content, some users may disable certain elements simply to load pages faster. For example, some users disable images and Javascript elements, which may contain a large portion of your message. Be sure to include a message in your blog that tells users these elements exist.

Author bio: Edwin is an avid marketer and writer currently working at Toronto web design firm 9th sphere – An award winning company specializing in online marketing and web design in Toronto. Edwin has a passion for great design and helping businesses succeed.

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  • Lisa

    Very good information, I just found your blog from BlogEngage. I always forget to test in other browsers. It can be very important and surprising I see many still use I/E. My least favorite browser.

    • Garen Arnold

      I couldn’t agree more with you Lisa. Here is a graphic I made which shows which most people use: Feel free to cut and paste the code under it to share on your own blog if you want :)

    • Edwin

      I’m guilty myself Lisa for not testing on different browsers. It’s hard to keep up with the changes, but its worth it in the end to get more people staying on your site longer.

  • Donna Merrill

    This gave me so much to think about. I need to be checking things more often. I am not the technical type, I even hire people to do a plug in on my blog…that’s how bad I am.
    After reading this, it has enlightened me that I need to check these thing myself.
    Thanks so much,

    • Garen Arnold

      hehe you hire to have a plugin installed. Let me know I’ll do it for you :)

  • Yorinda

    Hi Garen,

    a very informative and useful post!

    China blocks sites? WoW! I did not know that.

    The information about users disabling photos and java script is interesting too.

    Do you know of any tutorial in regards to setting up the proxy server?

    Thank you so much!

    • Garen Arnold

      Hey Yorinda,

      Tutorial for setting up a proxy server. Right off hand I can’t think of any. Have you looked for it on YouTube?

  • Beth Hewitt

    Hi Garen,

    Lots of great information here. Thanks for sharing. People would probably over look a lot things here like ensuring we cater for visually and hearing impaired.

    Thanks for the tips,

    Beth :)

  • Steve Borgman

    Do you know of any specific resources to help us make our websites compatible with different search engine browsers? I’m aware now that my sites may look different on different search engines, but am not sure how to make my site look good for each one.

    • Garen Arnold

      Yes, is great. You can check out how your blog site looks on all kinds of browsers. A number of them I didn’t even know existed :) Hope this helps!

  • Lydia Brown

    I found out the hard way last week to check my blog in other browsers. I had add some plugins and I use IE things working going ok I was viewing my blog as I worked on other things then I got a text from my wp tech support asking what happened to your blog. My respond nothing. Then I thought about checking firefox and chrome and low and behold the hot mess I saw. Signed out of IE and back in and of course hot mess. Thankfully got things fixed but I see the importance of not taking things for granted and now having read your post will frequently check my blog on my phone. Thanks Garen

    • Garen Arnold

      Yeah made that mistake many years ago. Worse is when you are going to show a client your site and your site looks all messed up!

  • Sarah Arrow

    I love how you’ve included details for people with visual readers and who have other disabilities. Often a site is designed with no thought to how someone other than the creator will use it.

    • Garen Arnold

      Thanks Sarah :)

  • clare

    I agree that considering those with disabilities and visual impairment is awesome, I hadn’t considered that before. I recently changed my site to a responsive theme. I wouldn’t have known anything about it except that I have a wonderful developer as a friend and he is my go-to person.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Garen Arnold

      Hey Clare,

      Yeah those go-to tech people are great :) I don’t know how many times I have had to get help from someone who is very technical :)