Mobile website accessibility - ensuring access to services and information for digital inclusion
The importance of website accessibility has always been a core element of Tim Berners-Lee's concept of the internet.
The vision of Tim Berners-Lee has been developed into a clear set of standards produced by W3C, called the Web Accessibility initiative and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which comes in three standards, A, AA and AAA. Additionally BS 8878:2010 Web Accessibility is a British Standard code of practice designed to address the growing challenge of digital inclusion (other countries have their own standards). Generally these guidelines are to ensure content is accessible to a wider range of people as possible with disabilities including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. The guidelines also make web content more usable to users in general.
All of our clients, both in the public sector and private sector, are aware of the importance of providing accessible websites, and we have developed our Web Content Management system and website templates with accessibility in mind. Our mobile sites are also developed to ensure that these meet the highest standards of accessibility.
This blog post and Website accessibility, look at best practice and the key areas to consider to ensure your mobile website is accessible.
Mobile website accessibility
The good news for mobile websites, is that websites for use on desktops/laptops will generally be accessible on smartphones and tablets.
Where mobile subsites are deployed (a site maintained with the same CMS and content as a PC website, but with specific mobile styling and navigation), additional consideration should be given to the following:
Having your whole website available as the default view on a smartphone is not usually accessible. A special view should be developed to offer the main services and information users require. An extension of this is that different graphic elements will be needed with different size/proportion/resolution/file size. Generally images need to take a backseat (unless you are selling a product), as these increase page loading times and cause users to scroll unnecessarily.
Users browsing on a smartphone typically do so quickly, wanting to get a specific piece of information or engage with a service. So the user experience needs to be honed to as simple a process as possible. Single column display works best on mobile browsers. Those requiring more information can access the whole website via a link to "view main website".
To assist in designing an engaging mobile website, you will need a good understanding of your users, available from your current web analytics. This will show you the routes people take when navigating around your site and where they drop off. By refining your mobile website, you can ensure more visitors complete their goal and find the information they are looking for.
It can be argued that smartphones and mobile browsers are developing faster than traditional browsers, so your developer team need to stay abreast of these innovations to ensure your mobile site can make best use of the technology.
With so many different phone sizes and browser combinations, it is important to test your developments on as many devises as possible. Emulators help greatly with this task.
Websites that are accessible on PCs will not need much more to make them accessible on mobile devices, but some special attention is required to make the accessible.
Mobile website strategy whitepaper
As more users adopt mobile devices it is important for businesses to understand mobile website usage and customer requirements, which may be similar to your PC website. But there are differences, particularly in experience, and web managers should aim to embrace the differences and exceed customer expectations.
Deciding to deliver your mobile website as a sub-site is just one aspect of developing a mobile website strategy. This whitepaper examines user trends and what businesses can do to capitalise on the opportunities that mobile websites offer and includes:
- Macro trends
- Defining a mobile strategy
- Mobile website delivery options
- Defining and refining user journeys
- Mobile landing page best practice