My fellow interns and I were given the opportunity to apply the skills that we have learned throughout the year by collaborating on a project. After considering several topics, we were excited to land on the idea of creating a new blog that would replace the old blog we had been using to post about our work, progress throughout the year, and reflections on experiences.
What exactly was our motivation for setting out to change our blog? The previous version of the blog seemed to lack a clear organizational structure to aid the user in navigating its content. This is an obvious inconvenience for all users. But beyond that, it is especially problematic for users that rely on screen readers to navigate content on the web. Screen readers play content on the web back to the user so they can better consume the text and images that make up a webpage. Individuals who use screen readers rely heavily on section headings and tabs on web pages to allow for efficient navigation of a webpage.
The old version of the blog lacked any organization as to what term or year a particular post was made or who the author of the post was. The posts could also be arranged by their subject including categories for end of term reflections, event or experience reflections, and other general posts. Without clearly labeled sections or content organized properly in tabs, screen reader users can find themselves in a situation where they are unable to navigate through the content of a webpage efficiently.
One of the biggest goals we had for the new blog was to address each of these issues so that we could create a more accessible experience for those who are interacting with our content. It’s worth noting that only looking at this project through an accessibility lense gets us to a finished product that includes not only increased accessibility but also better overall usability by clearly defining our content. Applying a web accessibility tool called WAVE to the old version of the blog revealed some other problematic points beyond the structure of its content. There are a number of low contrast issues with text scattered throughout the site. Additionally, there are a few cases of redundant links that map to the same page and could be combined for simplicity. Avoiding these things in the new blog is critical in accomplishing our goal of a more accessible site.
The final result of our efforts is a cleaner, more organized blog. The blog was designed with a fully accessible theme which eliminates the contrast issues we had with our previous blog. Having a well-organized page structure with clear titles means that users should be able to find and navigate posts and other content on our blog more efficiently. We hope to keep the blog well organized for future cohorts and future readers of our site with a set.