I’m working with World IA Day 2016 – a one-day (February 20, 2016), annual celebration focused on the practice and education of Information Architecture. As accessibility coordinator, I’m helping local events be welcoming to everyone.We’re getting closer to The Day. As registration opens, there will be a lot of activity to promote the events on social media and email. Just a few tips to keep in mind to make sure that everyone can read your messages.
Let’s start with email. Although many people will allow HTML content in email, many won’t. And the problem gets worse when all of the information is embedded in an image.
I once got an invitation to a webinar that just said:
[ image ] is proud to present [ image ]
No other text at all. Not exactly great communication.
Even with readable text, make sure you don’t bury critical information in images without any other way to read it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use images. Far from it. They can make an announcement sparkle. Just make sure that any information in the image is also available in text:
- If you are sending an HTML email, use “alt text” in the image tag to repeat any information in the image.
- Include the information above or below the image.
For example, if you have a banner with your group name, the location, data, and time of the event you can just repeat it in text. That way, whether the image isn’t loaded or the person can’t read it, they still get the critical information about what, when, where, and how to register.
You can use the same trick in social media: include both the image and enough text to communicate the message (even in 140 characters).
There’s tons of choice in social media managers. Choose one you like, and then use it in an inclusive way. As I was working on this post, Molly Holzschlag* shared a tool with useful functionality and good accessibility. Buffer’s Pablo app lets you add text to an image for posting on social media. It’s quick and easy, but the best part is that it automatically inserts the text from the photo the message text.
A few last thoughts about making email messages and social media posts easy to read:
- The tips for setting color contrast and writing alt text in the post about registration forms applies here, too.
- Check the size of the image and make sure it fits well in a smaller message window. Wide images can also stop text from wrapping, making it impossible to see all of the information on a mobile device. If you are using a message app, be sure to check out a test message on different screen sizes.
- Think about what any image will look like when it’s displayed as a thumbnail–which might be scaled or cropped, depending on the platform.
- Make sure the message comes through with–and without–the images.
- Remember that social media is global, so make the location clear for in-person events.
If you have a good solution for managing social media or a question about how to make it accessible, share it here.
* If you don’t know Molly, just search for “Molly web fairy godmother” or find her on Twitter at @mholzschlag
Next in the series: Getting Set for the Big Day
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