Content Strategy and Accessibility

Back in June, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural event for mkeUX, an informal gathering point for user experience enthusiasts in the Milwaukee area.

The kickoff topic was content strategy, and they knocked it out of the park by having two exceptional speakers, Gretchen Thomas (Content Strategy: It’s Not All Greek slides) and Margot Bloomstein.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about how content strategy correlates with accessibility. Effective content presentation most definitely helps create a more accessible experience.

Let me count (some of) the ways!

Content comes in different shapes and sizes. I’ve worked with people who still equate content with just the text on the page.

Content is many, many things of all shapes and sizes, including:

  • Information copy
  • Images
  • Video
  • Comments
  • Keywords and metadata
  • Search engine optimization tags and information

Content is quite the umbrella, and we’ve talked many times about how many of these examples are very important in an accessible experience.

Just some examples of content’s role in accessibility:
Copy needs to be clear, direct and easy to understand. Ramble too much or get cute with flowery words, analogies or corporate speak, and those with cognitive disabilities may struggle mightily to understand the information. Even those without disabilities may get lost or simply move on to somewhere else where they can more easily get what they need.

We’ve talked about images and video plenty of times. Choosing imagery with poor color contrast may prevent those with various types of color blindness from effectively seeing what it is you’re displaying. Poor or absent alt tags will block those using screen readers from understanding what the image they cannot see is representing, or may never know there’s an image there at all. And of course video without effective captions or transcripts is just moving pictures to those who cannot hear.

Like many aspects of accessibility, poor content strategy affects many within your audience, whether they are disabled or not. Effective messaging, imagery, placement of information, etcetera will enable users to get the information they need, research and/or buy the product they are interested in…whatever it is they are coming to your site to do.

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