So, you’re putting the final touches on your nonprofit’s event webpage. Perhaps you’re adding a sneak peek of your auction items, embedding a few photos from last year’s fundraising 5K, or putting the finishing touches on your sign-up form. But your work isn’t done if your event webpage is missing one crucial element: accessibility.
Accessibility means that your event webpage is readable and usable by all audience members, regardless of their age, device, or ability. Offering an accessible event page not only allows you to foster an inclusive online presence but also gain more sign-ups for your event, since your registration process will be available to a wider range of supporters.
If you’re looking to make your event webpage more accessible but don’t know where to start, these four tips will set you up for success:
- Keep the page simple.
- Follow the WCAG closely.
- Pay extra attention to the sign-up form.
- Test your page.
The best nonprofit websites offer a robust, accessible experience on every page, from their online donation forms to their event landing pages. These websites understand that accessibility and user experience go hand in hand, offering a better browsing experience for all users. Let’s break down each tip!
1. Keep the page simple.
As a nonprofit web designer or marketer, you’re likely familiar with the KISS principle: “keep it simple, stupid.” This means simplicity is key when it comes to design. Excessive complexity leads to confusion, frustration, and ultimately a lower level of accessibility.
Simplicity is especially important on your nonprofit’s website’s conversion pages. These include your online donation form, volunteer registration page, and of course, your event sign-up webpage. The simpler these forms are, the more likely your supporters will be to fill them out completely.
Improve your event webpage’s user experience by streamlining the page as much as possible, ensuring that you:
- Include a brief description of the event’s purpose.
- Ensure the event’s date, time, and location are clearly displayed.
- Organize the page in a logical, hierarchical order, with the most important information available first.
Simplicity is also the key to a better mobile experience. The smaller size of phone screens means that pages with a simple design and clear text and images are easier for mobile users to read. For instance, Getting Attention’s website design guide recommends making your text size large enough to facilitate easy reading on both desktops and smartphones. This allows visitors to avoid having to zoom in or squint to read your content.
For example, let’s say you’re designing a webpage for your annual auction event. Your supporters don’t need to know the full history of how the event evolved. Keep your descriptions concise, telling supporters the what, when, where, and a brief why (or the fundraising purpose) of your event. This allows them to quickly assess whether they can or want to attend, then easily fill out your sign-up form.
2. Follow the WCAG closely.
When it comes to designing accessible webpages, there’s one holy grail of regulations to keep in mind: the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is a set of documents developed by organizations from around the world that offer a unified resource for creating accessible web content.
The guidelines are organized around four main principles that establish the foundation for web accessibility:
- Perceivable: Everyone should be able to perceive the information available on your website.
- Operable: Visitors should be able to navigate and use each element of the website.
- Understandable: Users shouldn’t just be able to perceive your web content, but also understand it fully (meaning there’s no excessive jargon, idioms, or other hard-to-understand text).
- Robust: Your content should be robust enough to be deciphered by a variety of assistive devices.
The guidelines include specific instructions to help you meet each of the four principles. Let’s review a few relevant policies to keep in mind as you design your event webpage. The page should include:
- Alt text for images
- Captions and audio descriptions for videos
- Sufficient color contrast to make text more readable
- Resizable text up to 200 percent
- Keyboard accessibility
- The ability to pause, stop, or hide moving information, such as auto-playing videos
- Plain language that avoids the use of idioms or jargon
If you’re ever in doubt when optimizing your webpages for accessibility, you can always return to the WCAG for ongoing guidance. WCAG is categorized into three conformance levels, with AAA representing the highest level of accessibility and A representing the lowest level. Even if your event webpage isn’t at the AAA level yet, you can continue making incremental improvements to eventually reach the highest level of accessibility.
3. Pay extra attention to the sign-up form.
As you design your webpage, pay special attention to your event sign-up form’s accessibility. This form is what allows you to accurately track how many people plan to attend your event and gather relevant information about their participation.
An inaccessible form excludes certain audience members from signing up for your event and showing their support for your mission. Needless to say, that’s not an effective way to recruit long-term supporters!
Ensure your sign-up form is accessible by:
- Including descriptive text labels outside of each information field that tell users exactly what information to enter
- Offering clear instructions for filling out the page
- Avoiding the use of time limits
- Providing sufficient color contrast for buttons and form fields
Kanopi’s guide to accessible forms also points out that accessibility can apply to instances of temporary disability as well. Whether a user is attempting to navigate your form with a broken wrist or permanent color blindness, they should have an equally user-friendly experience.
Be sure to make your forms inclusive as well as accessible. Do away with character limits and other restrictions for last names; many people have last names that are just two characters, while some last names can have 20+ characters or are hyphenated. And if you need to collect pronouns or ask for gender information, offer more options than those that pertain simply to male/female. If you can, also provide an option to opt out.
Taking these extra measures ensures that filling out your event registration form is a simple, stress-free process for all audience members.
4. Test your page.
After making a few adjustments based on these tips, you might feel like your event webpage is fully accessible, but how can you know for sure? Try running some accessibility tests!
You and other team members should continually assess your page for various accessibility elements to ensure that everything is functioning properly. To run thorough tests, you should:
- Use an accessibility tool. Tools like Lighthouse allow you to run an accessibility report and identify initial issues. This is a great way to gain a broad overview of the elements that are working and those that need improvement for greater accessibility.
- Manually test your site for accessibility. Using an accessibility checker tool is a great start, but you shouldn’t stop there. Manual accessibility testing allows you to catch issues that automated tools might miss, and you can more closely replicate your users’ actual experience. Try zooming in to 200% and navigating your site that way, browsing with your keyboard (using the tab key), or testing your site using assistive technologies.
If you still feel that you could use more guidance after running these tests, consider partnering with a web design agency to conduct a technology assessment. A web design professional can assess the current state of your website to ensure you’re making the most of your technology and make recommendations to keep your pages updated and accessible.
As a nonprofit marketing professional or event planner, you know that the key to hosting a successful event is driving sufficient registrations to help meet your fundraising or engagement goals. With a fully accessible event webpage, you’ll ensure you’re doing everything in your power to make your event information available to all supporters.
Remember: accessibility is a journey, and best practices evolve consistently as new technologies and techniques arise. By adopting a continuous improvement approach, you can adapt to these innovations effectively.