A Guide to Making Websites Accessible in 2024 | Colour Edition 

It’s 2024! Having an accessible website is not only useful, it is necessary. Creating spaces where everyone can reach your business, including disabled people, is so important. 

As web designers, we’re going to talk through how we can make websites more widely available to people with visual impairments, such as colour blindness. The right contrast can really boost readability and just make the whole web browsing experience a lot more enjoyable. 

If you can make something easier for your consumers, why wouldn’t you?

Let’s get into it!

The Importance of Colour Contrast

Adequate contrast helps users see and understand your content clearly. Without proper contrast, text and interactive elements might merge into the background, making it difficult for users with low vision to read and navigate your site.

Employing good contrast is beneficial for all users, not just those with visual impairments. It creates clearer and more distinct visual hierarchies that enhance user experience for everyone.

Guidelines and Standards

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) specify colour contrast requirements to ensure that text stands out against its background. According to WCAG 2.1, the standard ratios are:

  • Normal Text: A minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 is required.
  • Large Text: A minimum contrast ratio of 3:1 is necessary. Large text is defined as 14 point (typically 18.66px) and bold or larger, or 18 point (typically 24px) or larger.
  • Graphical Objects and User Interface Components: Visual information required to identify user interface components and states must also have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 against adjacent colours.

Let’s also consider legal compliance. In the UK, the key legislation governing web accessibility is the Equality Act 2010, which requires that services provided by private, public, and third sector organisations, including websites, must be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. 

Best Practices in Design

Avoid Colour Reliance. Ensure that colour is not the only means of conveying information or indicating an action. This is particularly crucial for users who are colour blind.

Use Textures and Patterns. For elements that require more distinction but cannot meet contrast ratios, consider using patterns or textures to differentiate elements apart from colour.

Enhance with Shadows or Outlines. Adding text shadows or outlines can improve readability by making letters more distinct from their backgrounds.

Implementing Effective Colour Contrast

Always test colour palettes for text and interactive elements against their backgrounds to ensure they are legible under different lighting conditions and on various devices.

Pay special attention to areas with dynamic content (like dropdown menus or modals) where backgrounds and foregrounds might change based on user interaction.

Include colour contrast checks in your regular accessibility audits, using both automated tools and user feedback to identify and address issues.

Remember, the key to successful web design lies in its ability to communicate clearly and effectively, and colour contrast plays a pivotal role in this communication. So, go ahead, infuse some colour wisdom into your design process, and watch as your site becomes not just compliant, but commendable and completely enjoyable for everyone. 

Keep testing, keep adjusting, and most importantly, keep your audience in mind at every step of the design journey.

We specialise in keeping users in mind with intuitive design processes, and are always on hand to offer our services and advice. Whether you’re looking for a brand-new site or just a refresh, let us know! We can create innovative designs that can be enjoyed by everyone.