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Web Communication Writing for the Web and Making it Accessible

Writing for the Web and Making it Accessible

Initially presented on – Thursday, Jan. 4, 3 – 4 p.m.
Initially presented at – Spark Academic Innovation Hub 212 (Pullman) and live-streamed online (All Campuses)

Overview

This workshop provides an introduction to the best practices for writing accessible web content. Whether you are an experienced web writer, or you update content on your department’s website only once a semester, learn what you need to know to ensure that your unit’s websites are accessible, organized, and succinct. In this workshop, you will learn: 

  • How to create descriptive links 
  • How to create a clear heading structure
  • Appropriate line length for the web
  • How to write concise and logical text
  • How to convey meaning without using color alone
  • Additional web writing and content organizing tips

Workshop Recording
Read the transcript – accessible pdf

Webinar Slides

Web Accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. 

When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.

-Wikipedia – Web accessibility


Visual: Visual impairments including:

  • blindness
  • various common types of low vision and poor eyesight
  • various types of color blindness;

Motor/mobility – difficulty or inability to use the hands, including tremors, muscle slowness, loss of fine muscle control, etc., due to conditions such as:

  • Parkinson's Disease
  • muscular dystrophy
  • cerebral palsy
  • stroke

Auditory: Deafness or hearing impairments, including individuals who are hard of hearing;

Seizures: Photo epileptic seizures caused by visual strobe or flashing effects.

Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and cognitive disabilities


Usable for Everyone

Basically everything that people with disabilities comment on are things that annoy everyone, so fixing these issues makes your interface better for all users!

-axesslab.com


Page Titles

Page Title Failures

  • "Enter the title of your HTML document here,"
  • "Untitled Document"
  • "No Title"
  • "Untitled Page"
  • "New Page 1"

Page Title approach at WSU

page name | section name | site name |Washington State University

Make it Scannable

  • headings
  • short paragraphs
  • bulleted lists

Headings

Use headings to convey meaning and structure.

credit: W3C
credit: W3C
credit: W3C

Short Paragraphs

Generally speaking, paragraphs should run about 3-4 lines (5 maximum) or 2 sentences.

Dyslexic – not really seen as a disability, but large walls of text is painful.

Also never ending sentences and over complicated language.

Mustafa Kurtuldo (@Mustafa_x) 3 juni 2017

The number of characters per line matters.

Recommendation: 40-85 characters


Bulleted Lists

To support scanning behavior, use bulleted lists.

Washington State University enrolls students at 6 campuses, including Pullman, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Everett, and the online Global Campus.

Washington State University enrolls students at 6 campuses:

  • Pullman
  • Spokane
  • Tri-Cities
  • Vancouver
  • Everett
  • Global Campus (online)

Make Link text Meaningful

Avoid these:

  • click here
  • here
  • more
  • read more
  • info

Also avoid linking URLs

admission.wsu.edu/apply

Instead, how about

Apply for admission


Alt text

The alt attribute should typically: 

Be accurate and equivalent in presenting the same content and function of the image.

Be succinct.

NOT be redundant or provide the same information as text within the context of the image.

NOT use the phrases "image of …" or "graphic of …" to describe the image.

Courtesy of Webaim

alt= "Sign that reads reserved parking cougars only"


Transcripts and Captions

Videos without captions (subtitles) was by far the obstacle that most people commented on.

according to axesslab.com when analyzing a thread about folks major frustrations with using the web. 

web.wsu.edu
access.wsu.edu
wsu-web.slack.com

Web open labs
ITB 2025 on Fridays between 9:30 am and 11:30 am


5 characteristics of good web content

  • Strategic
    • Aligns with content strategy
  • Navigable
    • Easy to locate pages and content within the site and individual page architectures
  • Useful
    • Answers questions that audiences are likely to ask
  • Scannable
    • Easy to find information within each page at a glance
  • Optimized
    • Easy for search engines to find

The following recent BBC news headlines squeeze immense meaning into as few words as possible. The average just 5 words and 34 characters.

  • Italy buries first quake victims
  • Romania blamed over Moldova riots
  • Ten arrested in UK anti-terrorism raids
  • Villagers hurt in West Bank clash
  • Mass Thai protest over leadership
  • Iran accuses journalist of spying

Web headline checklist

  • Short
  • Rich in information scent
  • Front-loaded with the most important keywords
  • Understandable out of context
  • Predictable, so users know whether they'll like the full article before they click

*Adapted from: "World's Best Headlines: BBC News," Nielsen-Norman Group