Wix Accessibility Wizard: Pioneering the Pursuit of Internet for All
This article was last updated on May 5, 2021.
Business owners, artists, photographers - and everyone in between - all share a single goal when they create a website: to share their ideas, services and products with the world. The way we at Wix see it, this doesn’t just depend on your website’s traffic, but by ensuring everyone who visits can interact with its content.
That’s not always the case. You might be surprised to find out that, due to disabilities, 1 billion people around the globe [PDF] - that's 15% of the world’s population - can’t access most of the internet’s information or services. A percentage like this has to change, and thanks to the evolution of website accessibility, it will.
Wix jumped onto this pioneering movement in 2016, ready to find new ways of improving social inclusion on the web, and setting out to ensure our users are able to create more accessible websites. After years of developing our accessibility features, we’re happy to present users with one of the fruits of our initiative: the Wix Accessibility Wizard.
Wix’s accessibility philosophy
Website accessibility is the practice of removing barriers that prevent certain individuals from fully using a website, and providing them with the same great user experience available to anyone else. As far as our accessibility team at Wix is concerned, an accessible website is an indicator of a professional website.
Our goal is to help each website made with Wix be more usable by the general public, including people with:
Situational or temporary disabilities
At the end of the day, we can’t control the way a Wix user designs their website, what content they include, or how accessible it is. However, we can certainly help them get there, and we think it’s our responsibility to do so.
By creating accessible templates, integrating accessibility features into our website builder, and providing users with advanced tools like the Accessibility Wizard - we're laying the groundwork for the Wix community.
The story of Wix Accessibility Wizard
Our team has spent five years advancing accessibility on Wix’s platform as a whole: fixing thousands of bugs, proactively creating accessible products, enhancing support for screen readers, and more. But we realized something crucial: it’s not enough to advance our own product - we’ve got to think about our user’s content being accessible, too.
We first attempted to solve this problem by equipping Wix users with an accessibility checklist, which provided them with guidelines for checking their website design against the most basic accessibility requirements. It also gave them direction for how to adjust their site’s content, such as enabling visual indicators, improving color contrast, adding headings, or choosing the right font.
After listening to the feedback of users and accessibility experts, most of whom found the list too heavy and time consuming, it was clear to us that the checklist was just a start. That’s why we developed the Accessibility Wizard, which helps our users find and fix accessibility issues on their sites from within the Wix Editor, providing a quick and easy solution.
How the Wix Accessibility Wizard works
Built into the Wix Editor, the Accessibility Wizard is the most out-of-the-box component in our multi-layer solution for accessibility. Wix’s accessibility features are designed in accordance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), the shared global standard of web accessibility. We are also in the process of adapting to WCAG 2.1 and 2.2.
The Accessibility Wizard is a tool that will empower you, our users, to build more accessible websites by directly involving you in the process. In three steps, the Wizard will not only identify and help you fix accessibility problems on your site, it will also show you what they are, and provide actionable solutions:
01. Automatic scanning and guidance
The first step toward making your site accessible is finding existing issues. When first opening the Accessibility Wizard, you’ll be prompted to allow it to scan your site.
After scanning, the Wizard will highlight issues on your site that cause accessibility problems, such as: missing alt text, insufficient color contrast of text and icons, or use of the wrong heading structure. It will then show you exactly where these issues are, and guide you step-by-step to fix them within the Wix Editor.
02. Actionable solutions
Once you’ve completed the stage above, you’ll be presented with a checklist of items to help you further adjust your website. At this point, the Wizard highlights issues it may not detect itself, giving you detailed instructions on what to look out for, and how to improve these elements for accessibility.
We recommend going through this section step-by-step, as it's a great opportunity to manually examine your site for complications. After making these fixes, the tool will rescan your site, checking for new problems. Et voila! Once the Wizard sees that your site has no more detectable issues, you’ll be taken to the success screen.
At this point, you’ll need to publish your site, so all the fixes will update on your live site. It’s important to note that accessibility laws vary from place-to-place. You can make sure your site complies with local accessibility clients by verifying it with an accessibility expert.
Pro tip: We recommend running the Wizard anytime you edit your site. The reality is that each new change might lead to a new accessibility issue. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
03. Advanced accessibility settings
To further improve your site's accessibility, the Wix platform is equipped with advanced accessibility features, most of which are automatically activated on your site. You can view and modify these settings directly from the Wizard:
Smart focus ring: Visual indicators support keyboard users as they navigate through your website. Smart focus rings automatically appear when keyboards are used. These rings are dual-colored and always visible, regardless of a website’s background color.
Skip to Main Content: This setting lets keyboard users skip directly to the main content of each page when enabled.
Automatic DOM Order: You can design your website in any order you like with drag and drop elements. Activating the automatic DOM (document object model) feature of your site will arrange these elements to reflect the visual order you defined, ensuring that visitors who rely on keyboard or screen readers can navigate your website with ease.
Advanced Dev Tools: For advanced users, adding aria attributes to different site elements, can enhance the user experience for people who use assistive technology such as screen readers. You can also add custom attributes to apps and components you build on your own using Velo by Wix.
To use the Accessibility Wizard:
Go to the Wix Editor on desktop
From the top bar, click Settings
Select Accessibility Wizard
From the Accessibility Wizard, click Scan My Site to get started
Here's a full step-by-step guide on how to use the Wix Accessibility Wizard.
Why is making an accessible Wix website important?
It’s in our power to design a website that’s all embracing, and making the internet a place of inclusion is a responsibility that benefits website visitors and owners alike. Whether you’re running an online store, business website, or managing your online portfolio - an accessible site will strengthen your brand, improve performance, and minimize legitimate legal risks.
Extend your market reach
Contrary to what many marketers have believed in the past, the efforts to improve your site’s accessibility and those used for SEO (search engine optimization) are not mutually exclusive. Many of the web accessibility features implemented into our web designs - such as alt text and heading tags - will boost your site’s performance in Google search results.
Being inclusive means that your audience and customer base will grow, too. At a time when the world of commerce is rapidly changing, many shoppers with disabilities have moved online, creating a market with a spending power of over $6 trillion. This means it’s critical that businesses with an online presence provide equal access to all potential customers. You can understand the needs of your specific users by creating user personas that provide informative insights.
Cultivate positive brand perception
Acuteness toward accessibility will shed a positive light on your brand’s image, and improve user experience and satisfaction.
A website and brand that make diversity a part of its mission is key to fostering positive customer relationships and brand loyalty. Plus, it will prove to visitors that you value social change and inclusivity.
Be a part of the drive for innovation
Accessibility tools, features and products often solve unanticipated problems that benefit all site visitors. This includes full keyboard functionality, smart focus rings, formatting content for screen readers and more.
At Wix we aim to set the industry standard for web accessibility, inspiring web creators, designers, developers and even our competitors, to push forward with innovative solutions so everyone can fully experience and interact with the web.
It’s the law (in many places)
In our case for accessibility, we’ve also got the law to think about. Numerous countries have laws mandating digital accessibility and enact fines for websites that fail to comply. These regulations are constantly evolving and vary from region to region.
One notable example is Domino's Pizza, who was sued in 2016 by Guillermo Robles, a blind man who was unable to order pizza using his screen-reading software(violating the Americans with Disabilities Act). After a petition by the company,who claimed there were no set rules for applying the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) to the digital world, the U.S. Supreme Court pushed the case forward to district court - in a significant move for disability advocates.
The future of website accessibility at Wix
Wix is committed to making the web a better place for everyone. These are just some of the ways our dedicated accessibility team has worked to improve our products for our users, and visitors to their sites.
We are enthusiastic about this global initiative, and hope our community of users are, too. If you know ways to improve our accessibility tools, or have a feature that you’d like to see, we encourage you to reach out at: email@example.com.
By Nir Horesh
Head of Accessiblity