It’s an email marketing best practice to put yourself in the shoes of your recipients when designing your campaigns. This allows you to ensure your messages are compelling and centered on the needs of your target market, that the calls-to-action are clear, and that everything is working properly.
The potential flaw here is that all your recipients may not be exactly like you: what if your audience has limited sight? What does your email look like for someone who is colorblind? What about those with short attention spans?
The point is, not everyone consumes email (or other media) in the same way. That’s why it’s incumbent upon email marketers to leverage inclusive designs. This is especially true for anyone whose target customer may include a higher percentage of people with disabilities or eyesight limitations. For example, according to a recent study, as baby boomers age, the number of Americans with vision problems and blindness is expected to double over the next three decades.
Here are five tips for designing your email campaigns for maximum accessibility:
- Have a clear focus: Create a clean, decluttered email layout with a clear focus, an obvious message and unambiguous call-to-action. This is especially important for younger generations who are more likely to scan your email for meaning, and who – like many of us today -- have shorter attention spans.
- Use large text: Anyone who can’t read without their glasses will thank you for this one. Increasing your font size a few points can make a big difference in legibility, comprehension and overall user experience for anyone who is at all vision impaired. A minimum font size of 14 pixels should apply for body copy, and use larger, bolded sizes for headlines and sub-headlines. Another best practice is to use bullet points in order to keep your message concise for easier consumption by your audience. In addition, don’t center your text, as this can be difficult to read for those with dyslexia.
- Include HTML and ALT text: If you’ve ever worked remotely or even if you’ve ever experienced a low reception signal on your mobile phone (and who hasn’t?), you know that email images can sometimes be especially slow to load. If you’ve sent a message with the text inside the images, the message will appear blank to a recipient who is experiencing limited cell coverage. The solution here is to use HTML (sometimes called “live”) text, which will appear in a readable size on mobile devices, even if images are slow to load or turned off. ALT text (a.k.a. alternative text) is the text that appears if an image does not load, and is also the text screen used for those listening to their emails, and for describing the image.
- Be careful with color: A couple years ago the NFL got in hot water when it showed a game with the opposing teams in their “color-rush” uniforms; unfortunately, the color blind couldn’t tell the teams apart. Email marketers should certainly use color to support their messages but be sure to incorporate high contrast so the colors don’t blend together or obscure or distort your message. Use color contrast ratio tools to guide your efforts.
- Always test: Before you launch your campaign, send your message to a few people to get their perspectives. Also, run a colorblind test and listen to the audio version of your email on a smartphone to hear what some of your audience may be experiencing.
A few small changes in your email design can enable greater accessibility. The point is, if you want to be sure to reach your entire audience effectively, take into account those with disabilities or eyesight limitations and tailor your messages accordingly.
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