A Guide to Creating Accessible and Meaningful Web Content
In the world of web development, accessibility has become a crucial factor in designing and building websites. Accessibility ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and use a website without any barriers. Semantic HTML is one of the most essential tools in creating an accessible website.
For more information on why web accessibility is important in general, you can check out my previous blog post here.
Why is Semantic HTML Important?
Semantic HTML is critical for creating accessible web content. Assistive technologies like screen readers rely on the markup of a page to provide an accurate and meaningful experience for users with disabilities. If the markup is incorrect or ambiguous, it can be difficult or impossible for these technologies to properly interpret the content. This can result in frustrating and confusing experiences for users with disabilities, making it difficult for them to access the same information as their non-disabled peers.
By using semantic HTML, web developers can ensure that their content is accurately described and presented in a meaningful way. This allows assistive technologies to properly interpret and present the content, resulting in a more accessible experience for users with disabilities. Also, semantic HTML can benefit users without disabilities by making the content easier to understand and navigate.
What are Semantic HTML Tags?
Semantic HTML tags are markup tags that accurately describe the content on the page. They provide information about the structure and meaning of the content, making it easier for assistive technologies to interpret and present the information to users.
Here are some of the most commonly used semantic HTML tags:
- <header> – Used for the top section of a page, typically containing the main heading and navigation.
- <nav> – Used for a navigation menu, typically located in the header section of a page.
- <main> – Used for the main content of a page, typically containing the main article or other important content.
- <article> – Used for an article or blog post, typically containing the main content of the page.
- <section> – Used to group related content together, typically containing multiple articles or other related content.
- <aside> – Used for content that is related to the main content but not necessarily a part of it, typically containing supplementary information or links.
- <footer> – Used for the bottom section of a page, typically containing copyright information and other legal disclaimers.
Using these tags, web developers can accurately describe the content on the page, making it easier for assistive technologies to interpret and present the information to users.
Tips for Using Semantic HTML
Here are some tips for using semantic HTML effectively:
- Use the correct tag for the content – Be sure to use the correct semantic HTML tag for the content on the page. This will help ensure that the content is accurately described and presented to users.
- Use nested tags – Use nested tags to accurately describe the structure of the content. For example, use <section> tags to group related articles together, and <article> tags to describe each individual article.
- Avoid using non-semantic tags – Avoid using non-semantic tags like <div> or <span> to describe content. While these tags can be useful for styling, they don’t provide any information about the meaning of the content.
- Use ARIA attributes – Use ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes to provide additional information about the content on the page. These attributes can be used to describe the role, state, and properties of an element, making it easier for assistive technologies to interpret the content.
The Benefits of Semantic HTML
There are several benefits to using semantic HTML in web development:
- Accessibility: Semantic HTML makes your website more accessible to everyone, especially those with disabilities. Assistive technologies like screen readers rely on semantic HTML to understand and interpret the content on the page. By using semantic HTML, you can ensure that screen readers can provide an accurate and accessible experience for all users.
- SEO: Search engines also rely on semantic HTML to understand the content on your website. By using semantic HTML, you can provide clear and concise information that search engines can use to rank your website higher in search results.
- Maintenance: Semantic HTML can also make your code more maintainable and easier to update. By using descriptive tags, you can quickly identify the purpose of each section of your code, making it easier to modify or update in the future.
- Consistency: Semantic HTML helps to create a consistent structure across your website, making it easier for users to navigate and understand. By using consistent tags, you can ensure that your website is easy to use and understand, regardless of the page or section.
By using descriptive and meaningful HTML tags, you can ensure that your website is easy to understand and navigate for all users, regardless of their abilities. So, next time you’re building a website, remember to use semantic HTML and help make the web a more inclusive place for everyone.
So, What Comes Next?
For further information on how to make your product accessible to your audience, contact our experience design experts, check out our Accessibility IQ for your website, download our guide Digitally Accessible Experiences: Why It Matters and How to Create Them, read more from our UX for Accessible Design series.
Stay in touch and follow my next post: Enhancing Accessible Rich Internet Applications ( ARIA ) Using Semantic HTML : Building Accessible Websites with Native HTML Part 2 of 5.