How To Improve Website Accessibility To Connect With Your Community

In this episode of the Strategic Nonprofit podcast, our host Trista sits down with David Pisarek, Chief Digital Aficionado at Wow Digital Inc., to discuss how Nonprofit Organizations can optimize their website accessibility to improve funding, tips on designing your website to increase donations and the fundamentals of responsive websites.

Next time you want to go to Google to search for something, close your eyes… and try to navigate the website.

David PISAREK

Join Trista and David as they explore the importance of website accessibility best practices and how you can start to improve your own.

Also read:

Where To Start Optimizing Your Website Accessibility

The size of your budget doesn’t really matter; however, David suggests that the bigger your budget is, the more you can realistically optimize your websites’ marketing, web presence and authority.

You can still be very impactful by prioritizing your website’s accessibility needs by starting with a work-back schedule to identify your primary goal. Then you can begin to solidify your optimization strategy and the tools necessary to complete it.

50 Milliseconds

It takes just 50 milliseconds for a website user to make an impression about your mission, message, and how much they connect with it. Therefore ultimately, you need a fast website that has a strong visual identity to your brand. More so, a focus on emotionally connecting with your audience through storytelling.

Website Accessibility Best Practices

Optimizing your website accessibility isn’t exactly an option for many Nonprofit Organizations. In fact, “by law, depending on the size of your organization, you’re required to make new and significantly refreshed public websites accessible if you are: a private or non-profit organization with 50+ employees; or a public sector organization.”

Therefore, you should be following the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international team of experts.

However, in this podcast, David gave us some quick, actionable and thought-provoking tips for the best practices of optimizing website accessibility that you can find below.

Appearance

First, you need to use colour sparsely; there are specific guidelines that you need to meet. In particular, the WCG 2.0 or 2.1, which is what the AODA requirements are for Ontario. The colour contrast ratio you need to meet for that is four and a half to one. So if you had yellow text on a green background, the green has to be dark for that yellow to have that contrast ratio.

I try to convince my clients to go heavier on that and create a separate brand guide just for the web.

David Pisarek

Functionality & Responsive Websites

As little as two years ago, website traffic was approximately 30% from mobile devices – now it’s closer to 50%. Therefore it’s imperative to consider how well your website performs; this is called responsive design, scaling and adjusting based on the size of the browser that somebody is using.

David suggests however the types of functions that can be optimized are almost endless; You can even add colorblindness filters to your site so you can see how people would interact. So if your site is heavily green or blue or red, it’ll appear as a shade of grey to someone who is colorblind.

Content

A website that’s simple and easy to read is optimal. However, another significant consideration in terms of content is the proper use of website headings, which need to follow the logical progression of H1 through to H6. They’re hugely crucial for search engine optimization and ranking content based on users’ queries – so it’s critical to get right in terms of accessibility. Otherwise, you could potentially ruin a user’s visit.

Examples of Great Website Design

TED

David likes to think of TED as more of a media-based company; it’s all video-based, so it’s probably not your typical charity. However, they have tons of shareable, informational, and educational content on a variety of topics. When you’re dealing with a specific Nonprofit, it’s usually hyper-focused on something specific, which is what makes TED stand out from the crowd.

Malala Fund

Malala is an educational activist from Pakistan; her organization’s website is clearly designed and provides the user with a clear understanding right away. More so, their donation button is up-front and is quite large, although David mentions that he doesn’t usually encourage this – however it actually fits in with the design and isn’t distracting.

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wild Life Fund has an immediately apparent strong brand identity that carries through in strong imagery. Their donation platform is easy, but they also have something a little bit more tangible. You can adopt a sea turtle on their site, where you’ll receive periodic updates and images. How does this entice prospect fundraisers? It makes you feel good!

More About Wow Digital Inc.

Wow Digital Inc. is an award-winning Canadian web agency that helps Nonprofits create and build accessible websites. It also helps organizations improve engagement and promotion by evaluating their goals to provide a strategy from a marketing, communications, and technology perspective. 

Learn more about Ontario’s regulations and guidelines for accessible websites here.

The above article was adapted from the original podcast recording and all stats and information are estimates given by David Pisarek. AMC has not verified the information given. The reader is encouraged to do their own research to verify the information when necessary/important to the reader.

About Tom (TJ) Abbott

Tom (TJ) Abbott, CSP is the Managing Director of AMC NPO Solutions and an authority on Governance. He has over 25 years experience as CEO, President and board director of several not-for-profit organizations. Tom has also spoken in over 20 countries.

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