Woman sitting on the floor with laptop, writing alt text for her website

Don’t forget to add alt text

One important website accessibility standard every website manager should know is that EVERY photo on your site MUST include alt text. Alt text (alternative text), or alt attributes play an essential role in making your site accessible to all visitors.

Here are three tips to ensuring your image descriptions and informative and optimized for screenreaders.

Describe the photo accurately

Computers and e-reading devices can’t analyze images. Alternative text works to inform screen readers and searchbots what’s in the picture. It’s also what will display on the screen should the image fail to load.

When writing alt text for images, make sure you’re describing the image and it’s purpose accurately and succinctly. You need to give enough information so that readers and search engines understands how the image relates to your page.

For example, if you’re writing a blog, revealing the cover of your novel, the alternative text would describe what your book cover looks like.

The surrounding content on your page can also provide the readers additional context around the image, so be sure to make sure the description is original, adding value to the reader instead of being redundant.

In our cover reveal example, including your name/byline in the alt text is like redundant because you’ve already referenced that information within the body of the post.

Screenreaders also know, thanks to the alt text line, that this is an image, so avoid unnecessary words in the description like “image,” “graphic,” etc.

Keep it under 125 characters

It’s like the original Twitter. You don’t need to fluff up the description or be verbose. The more succinct you can be, the better the description. In fact, many screen readers will only read the first 125 characters, so it’s important to keep your alt attributes under that limit.

What about images that are purely for design?

There may be times when an image is purely decorative, and does not add any context or meaning to your page. When this is the case, simply insert “” in the alt text field. This signifies that the value is null, rather than missing/inaccessible.

An email icon on a computer desktop shows three unread emails.

How to grow your email subscriber lists

Emails can be an extremely valuable asset to your brand and business. But what about those myths that email is dying? Well, I’ve been hearing that myth since I started my career in marketing more than a decade ago. And guess what, email’s still here and still going strong.

There are roughly 3.8 billion Internet users who have at least one email address. To put that into context, that’s something close to 92% of all Internet users who have access to and use email.

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, email marketing is up to forty times more successful than social media marketing–giving you more return on the time you invest in your communications. It’s an effective way to share important updates, news and events, as well as drive traffic to your blogs and content. In the wake of COVID-19, and shelter-in-place orders, the amount of time people are spending online is only increasing.

So with all that potential and equitable reach to your audience, how do you grow your email lists?

The strategy here is twofold. One, be clear on why they should subscribe and what value they’ll get from joining. Two, make it easy to sign up. People rarely go hunting for email lists to subscribe to.

Offer free downloads/resources with sign-ups

People don’t want junk mail — they need to know that they’re getting valuable content in exchange for their email address.

Get creative and think about resources, downloads, and events that are related to you and your brand or business. If you’re a picture book author, you might offer a free teacher’s or caregivers guide for your book as an incentive for subscribing to your email list. Or, if you write for adults, each month you might raffle off a virtual meet and greet for all new email subscribers.

Add a pop-up to your website

I know, it sounds so 1990. But when placed and used correctly it can be incredibly effective. You can often set parameters around when and where you’d like the banner to appear.

If the pop-up banner enhances your user’s experience, rather than distracts for it, the user will likely engage. You may consider only sharing the pop-up banner to users who’ve previously visited your site, or after the user has been on the page for a minute.

Don’t over do it or you’ll run the risk of annoying the user. You’ll also want to check settings that instruct the pop-up to reappear only after two weeks or 30 days if the user dismisses the banner.

Add an opt-in on all your forms

Never miss the opportunity for someone to subscribe to your email. Again, it’s all about making it easy. If they’re already reaching out to you via another form on your website, ask if they’d like to subscribe to your email list, too.

A single checkbox and you’ve killed two birds with one stone.

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