It’s not just your website that needs to be up to accessibility standards. Your email newsletter should be accessible, as well. Here are some ways you can evaluate your current layout and design.
Keep Your Email Design Simple
This is good advice even if you’re not thinking about accessibility, particularly if anything more than a small portion of your audience consumes your content on a mobile device. (And if not, don’t forget the possibility of a chicken-and-egg problem: if there’s a gap in engagement levels between desktop and mobile, it may be the case that your design is driving your mobile audience away.
Single-column layouts are usually best, as is a general leaning toward “unfussiness.”
Accessibility guidelines for contrast can impact your design and branding, so be sure you’ve worked out ways to stay within your branding guidelines and still make your copy stand out strongly from the background on which it appears.
Make links obvious. We all hate the very old-fashioned looking blue text underlined to signify a link, but many of the more “modern” and popular approaches to identifying links don’t look any different to people with disabilities. People with color blindness can’t always tell a link is a link if the only difference is color. And screen readers don’t do well with similarly subtle link designs.
Keep Your Copywriting Simple
A simple rule of thumb: if your writing reads like it would impress your college philosophy profession, it’s probably too dense. (And as a college philosophy major, I speak with some authority …)
Shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, and less jargon or difficult to pronounce words. That can help the folks that use screen readers and other assistive technologies, but will also help your broader audience.
Consider using one of the many tools that will grade your writing for its reading ease. The Flesch Reading Ease test is perhaps the most commonly used online. It’s built into many popular CMS tools, like the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
Experience Your Email as Your Audience Does
Testing is always a good idea. Try listening to your emails – and other writing – using a screen reader or voice assistant. More and more people are using these tools, so it’s worth hearing how they’re consuming your content.
Code for Accessibility
Be sure your email coding is as well constructed as your website coding. Use markup that provides context for screen readers. This should include h1/h2/h3 tags for headlines, proper labeling of tables, and identifiers for buttons and other navigational elements.
Most importantly, make sure the main thrust of your email is presented in text, not images. Use images, but not exclusively, and not without alt tags.
Remember, making your digital marketing accessible – whether web or email – isn’t just another regulatory burden for businesses to bear. And it’s not just the right thing to do. It’s also good business.