Like any website, a WordPress-powered website needs to be accessible to your visitors. That might sound obvious, but the detail is quite complex. Most people have heard of Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, but there are loads of other web browsers too. Then we need to think about accessibility for users with disabilities – in many countries including the UK, it’s considered discrimination (and therefore illegal for businesses) to produce a website that doesn’t follow accessibility guidelines. Then we need consider smartphone users, tablet users and maybe in the future smartwatch users.

And then there’s computers. You might not think it’s important to bear machines in mind when building a website, but it is! Making sure your code is valid, optimised for search engines and can connect to other web services via feeds can make all the difference to your site’s traffic and overall performance. Let’s have a look at some key issues.

Browser testing

Browser testing no longer means attempting to make a website look the same in browsers of different capabilities or on devices with different size screens. It does mean ensuring that a person’s experience of a design should be appropriate to the capabilities of a browser or device. Making use of modern web design standards and tools often means that your website won’t work the same way on older browsers.

Desktop browser testing

We test our work in current versions of major desktop browsers including those made by Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Microsoft (Internet Explorer) and Mozilla Firefox. All versions of these browsers less than 2 years old should render the website in a largely identical fashion.

We’ll also test to ensure Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 for Windows to ensure that users get a satisfactory, although usually different, experience. If you want a different level of cross-browser compatibility, please let us know and we’ll include that specific detail in the project scope.

Mobile browser testing

Testing popular small-screen devices is essential in ensuring that a person’s experience of a design is appropriate to the capabilities of the device they’re using. We test our work in:

  • iOS: Safari and Google Chrome,
  • Android 4.1: Google Chrome and Firefox

We currently don’t test Blackberry OS or Blackberry QNX, Opera Mobile, Symbian or other mobile browsers. If you need us to test using these, please let us know and we can specify that with you.

HTML Sitemap

This is a sitemap for people. It is generally considered best-practice to include such a sitemap for easy access to all areas of the site. Depending on the navigation design, it may or may not be advisable to include an HTML sitemap – sometimes a site is too simple to warrant using an HTML sitemap.

XML Sitemap

A sitemap for computers. It tells search engines what’s in your website and how best to index it. Pragmatic will install a plugin that will automatically generate and maintain an XML sitemap for the site as part of our core SEO set up.

Valid Markup (W3C)

All XHTML and CSS mark-up that Pragmatic produces will be validated against W3C’s validator. Pragmatic can guarantee its own mark-up will be valid. Plugins can sometimes cause invalid mark-up, but that is outside of Pragmatic’s control. However, all reasonable effort will be made to ensure that there are no validation errors or warnings in the final site.

WordPress Accessibility for humans

Pragmatic will adhere to WCAG (website accessibility) best practice as closely as reasonably possible to ensure that visitors with some kind of sensory impairment can still access and make use of the site. When using an existing theme, we won’t modfiy accessibility within the theme unless that’s specified as part of a project scope.

Feeds

WordPress supports RSS and ATOM feeds straight off-the-shelf, both for all posts, category-, tag- and author-specific posts and comments. These feeds can be used to connect your website with other web services like social media or newsletters as well as being used in RSS feed readers.

Summary

At Pragmatic, we try to balance accessibility requirements with cost considerations. Unless your website’s specific requirements mean we need to pay extra attention to older browsers, we prefer to be forward-thinking and make use of modern techniques and standards to give your visitors (both humans and machines) the best possible experience.

We hope this has been a useful guide to accessibility for WordPress sites – do comment below or contact us if you think we can do better, or if you have any requirements you’d like to talk through with us.