There are many theories about getting the best user results for your website. Many times, user testing is centered on functionality and meeting the needs of the largest user market. This means website developers often overlook accessibility testing websites during the building stage. However, when they eventually test website accessibility, it can require an extensive overhaul to fix it. It is critical to take accessibility considerations into the site’s initial design and test it to ensure it works before going live.
For some sectors, accessibility is also the law. Section 508 compliance testing of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all federal agencies and departments to ensure all communications and technology are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also requires “places of public accommodation,” such as public-facing businesses, to have accessible websites, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
There are three different methods of conducting web accessibility testing to ensure a website is completely accessible to everyone according to the ADA and Section 508. These methods are useful guidelines to use to optimize a site for universal access..
- Manual testing – Involves human testing — normally by a group — that is repeated and documented closely.
- Automated testing – Uses software to scan a website and test for accessibility nonconformance.
- Hybrid testing – Uses both of the previous testing methods together.
Manual Website Testing
Manual website testing involves a lot more effort than automated testing. You will need to plan and execute the testing in a controlled, repeatable manner and then be able to interpret the feedback you received into actionable items. With manual testing, you will need to repeat this process regularly because new issues could arise as your website is updated.
Tips For Planning Your User Testing
Research what you need before you begin user testing. According to the UX Mastery Website’s usability testing guide, the five phases of manual website testing you should go through are:
- Preparing your web design for testing
- Finding participants
- Outlining a test plan
- Becoming a moderator in the usability testing
- Presenting your findings
You’ll need to prepare for each phase ahead of your usability test to ensure that it runs smoothly and produces the most comprehensive results.
You will want a dedicated web designer on board with this project. They can help you choose the right features for your website, and getting them involved in the ADA) compliance-testing phase will help you later when changes and updates need to be made.
These guidelines are put in place to ensure that anyone can access your site no matter what their accessibility needs are. Considerations like color contrast of the text versus the website background, text size, and keyboard navigation abilities are all important to users with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) help you identify these key features, which can be included in your website’s manual accessibility test.
Honesty is Key
It’s also important to understand that if you are looking for true and high-quality feedback, you need to be open to positive and negative responses as users interact with your site. After all, what would the point of testing your site be if it was perfect?
Everyone will find something they don’t like or understand, and even if you cannot think of a way to improve it on the spot, that information might help you down the road. After all, if one person has an accessibility concern about your site, chances are that more people will as well.
Listen to what your accessibility user testers have to say about your site – they could come up with incredible solutions and insight that you never considered!
Take Accurate Notes
Generalizations will not be helpful when you go back to make website improvements or when you tell your web designer how the testing went. You need to take specific notes on exactly what issues the user had, where they were on the site when they encountered the problem, and what they did to fix the situation.
If you are afraid you will forget something from the testing session, you should record the sessions, but be sure to get consent from the testers beforehand. They should always be allowed to say no if they would rather not be recorded during testing.
Conduct the Testing Somewhere Accessible
You wouldn’t want to hold a presentation on wheelchair accessibility in a venue that is completely inaccessible to wheelchairs, so why would you conduct accessibility testing in a similar setting? You’ll want to ensure that wherever you choose to hold the testing, a website accessibility tester can access it easily. Be sure to check with testers before they arrive to see which accommodations you will need.
Some users will need to know your system’s keyboard navigation commands as they might use keyboard navigation on another operating system. Others will need text-to-speech enabled. It’s best to try these features out on the computer they will be using to make sure they are ready to test the website the way they would interact with it at home. This also ensures you won’t waste their time setting everything up or not having what they need when they come in to participate in the testing.
The one drawback to manual testing, however, is that it needs to be repeated periodically as your website changes. This can become expensive and difficult to keep up with long-term, which is why automated testing may be a better solution.
Automated Website Testing
Automated website testing is a process where software is used to predict and evaluate the performance of a website. Automated accessibility testing can highlight any issues that may arise with the website, and suggest a modification. This process can happen quickly, if not instantly, and can deliver consistent, real-time results to site owners.
It is also more accurate than manual testing because the test is not limited to the small sample of testers involved at one time, but rather, it can test for many more accessibility needs.
Automated Accessibility Testing Tools
It may sound incredibly technical and difficult to use, but automated tools for accessibility testing are easier than you may think!
UserWay’s Accessibility Scanner creates a map of your website and scans it for areas in need of modification, and lets you know which ones should be completed first.
You’ll also enjoy the benefit of getting the details on the accessibility of your website on more than one device. UserWay’s web accessibility evaluation tool checks for issues on different screen sizes and layouts, like the horizontal format of a computer screen, or a vertical, touch-screen layout of a cell phone or tablet.
Our solution offers real-time scanning and monitoring for websites of all different sizes, to keep your website compliant with WCAG and ADA guidelines. We also offer website audits that summarize any accessibility violations on your site.
To get started, try our free first scan of a webpage of your choice, and we’ll show you why our accessibility solution is trusted by hundreds of other companies.
How will I know how to implement the changes once my website has been scanned and audited by UserWay?
UserWay’s scanner checks your website for WCAG conformance, and provides you with a report of all the issues found on your site.
Our website audit will provide you with clear, actionable checklists of every accessibility violation on your website and provide you with direct remediation instructions for you to follow. If you have difficulty implementing these changes, you can get 1-1 expert advice.
Can UserWay help my website become completely WCAG compliant?
Yes! UserWay’s accessibility solutions can help you become WCAG 2.0 compliant and stay that way with our various solutions like the Accessibility Widget, Scanner, Audit, and MS Office add-on.
What happens if I don’t comply with accessibility guidelines like WCAG and the ADA?
If your website doesn’t comply with accessibility guidelines, your site is open to receiving litigation because of it. According to Accessibility.com, 2,352 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2021, don’t let your website become one of them! Trust UserWay to keep your website compliant and safe from accessibility-related litigation.