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Accessibility for E-Commerce: 3 Best Practices for Navigational Links in 2022

Accessibility for E-Commerce: 3 Best Practices for Navigational Links (73% of Sites Fail)

Research on accessibility in e-commerce sites has shown that about 73% of e-commerce websites have link compliance issues. This, in turn, affects a subgroup of users who find it hard to use or access links to navigate website data and resources.

Users find it frustrating when it’s hard to locate links to navigate a website, making them incapable of completing a purchase or locating a product. About 9% of websites have compliance issues when maintaining a sufficient contrast ratio around the surrounding text. Furthermore, it might likely lead to visual impairments for users who frequently use technology, i.e., screen readers.

This article will provide readers with three best practices for making Links Accessible to users:

  1. Identify links to screen readers by using convenient markup (9%of sites fail)
  2. Incorporate adequate contextual information to dispatch the purpose or destination of connections (67 % of sites fail)
  3. Utilize visually distinctive link styling (9 % of sites fail)

Identify links to screen readers by using convenient markup (9% of sites fail)

Accessibility for E-Commerce: 3 Best Practices for Navigational Links

Users who need screen readers to start navigating e-commerce websites should ensure that all website links are correctly identified as [link] at the website’s markup language since devices can recognize them as navigational components.

This practice can be applied using native HTML elements, i.e., <a> tag with a valid [href] attribute. Native HTML presents a more straightforward approach that is often supported by older tech. When utilizing HTML, link text needs to be placed in an <a> element, including a valid [href] value with the link destination.

Links recognized by ARIA attributes mainly designed for users who have disabilities need to be marked with a [role=” link”] attribute in situations where a webpage element acts as a link leading to a separate webpage area of the website.

If no ARIA attributes are included, screen readers will look between HTML <a> elements- where a visible text label was located initially. ARIA labels help implement links in a nontraditional manner like in an <span> element

In addition, using a shortened or much readable URL. i.e., written down in short links or plaintext) this can completely replace the requirement of link titles or act as an alternative.

Incorporate adequate contextual information to the purpose or destination of links (67% of sites fail)

Accessibility for E-Commerce: 3 Best Practices for Navigational Links

Sighted users take in a lot of visual elements of links all at once; however, people using screen readers depend on listening to the link description that is announced to make navigational decisions. The same case applies to people with impairments once they come upon lists of links. Sometimes the text may lack necessary contextual data.

It’s like when a site has numerous links labeled See More or Details back-to-back on a webpage that sighted users might be able to contextualize hinged on the surrounding visual links. 

Ensuring link labeling stays constant across the website, especially in cases where multiple links lead to one destination. Such an example is avoiding labeling links as Men’s Clothing in one area, and Men’s Apparel in another, and both links lead to the same area.

Depending on the contextual placement, similar titles can lead to radically different destinations. When this happens, context-independent labeling that doesn’t depend on nearby visual data needs to be applied.

Link titles written in all capital need to be avoided since screen readers can’t read the total words but spell them out letter by letter.

Utilize visually distinctively link styling (9% of sites fail)

Accessibility for E-Commerce: 3 Best Practices for Navigational Links

Even if visually impaired users are being assisted by assistive tech, users with poor eyesight or color blindness still need visual cues to identify or navigate links on websites.

Users with low visual acuity have a hard time identifying links on a site. This means links are implemented so that they are visually distinguishable from different site text or elements.

The most accessible means to achieve the effect is for the link text to maintain a ratio contrast of 4.5:1. So when it isn’t understood, it can still be identified as a unique character somehow, or it can also be regarded as separate from the surrounding text.

Although color blindness comes in various types, changing the color depending on whether the link destination has been previously seen can differentiate links.

Since links play an essential role in enabling users to navigate a website, ensuring that its link accessibility is seamless is crucial. The goal is always to make it easier for screen readers to indulge in the same experience as the rest.


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