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Alt Text


What is alt text? 

When building a website, every element plays a crucial role in delivering your message to your audience. Alt text, short for alternative text, is a type of HTML attribute that provides a textual alternative to images on a web page. Alt text provides a description to users in case an image fails to load, making sure they understand the content even without the visual element. This is especially crucial for website accessibility, ensuring that individuals with visual impairments who rely on screen readers are accommodated. Alt text is also useful for situations where images cannot be loaded due to slow internet connection or technical errors that affect website performance.

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History of alt text

Initially, alt text served as a simple description for images when internet speeds were slow, and images took a long time to load. This allowed users to understand the content without waiting for all visual elements to appear. Over time, its importance grew as a tool for web accessibility.

As the internet evolved, so did the functionality and significance of alt text. With advancements in web standards and increased awareness about inclusivity, alt text became a critical website infrastructure feature that ensures all users have equal access to information. It has transformed from being just an alternative for slow-loading images to an essential component of web design that supports screen readers and assists search engines.

Evolution of alt text in web design

Web design has come a long way from its text-heavy origins to today's dynamic pages and image-rich sites. It's now recognized not only as a technical requirement but also as an ethical practice in creating equitable digital spaces. 

Why is alt text important?

The role of alt text in website creation

Including alt text is a crucial step in creating a professional website, since this is an integral component of web accessibility. Including alt text on your images helps improve user experience by making your web content more inclusive for all users. Additionally, properly written alt text can also improve search engine optimization (SEO) by improving the indexing of images, enhancing the overall visibility and relevance of your website on search results.

Alt text and its relevance for SEO

Search engines like Google can't 'see' images the way humans do. Instead, they rely on alt text to understand what an image is about when their crawl bots crawl and index a web page. A well-crafted alt text can improve your website's SEO by providing context and improving the chances of your images appearing higher in search engine results. It's also an opportunity to include relevant keywords without stuffing them, making your site more discoverable.

The role of alt text in enhancing website accessibility

By describing images, alt text helps users with visual impairments access information conveyed through visuals. This not only broadens your audience but also aligns with web accessibility standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Key components of alt text

The key components of alt text include:

  • Conciseness: Keep the text short and to the point.

  • Descriptiveness: Clearly describe the image and its context.

  • Relevance: Ensure the alt text is relevant to the content of the page.

  • Keywords: Include pertinent keywords naturally, without overstuffing.


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Benefits of using alt text in web design

The advantages of incorporating alt text include:

  • Improves accessibility: Alt text makes your website more navigable for users with visual impairments.

  • Enhances SEO: Search engines use alt text to understand and rank images, which can drive more traffic to your site.

  • Provides context: When images don't load due to slow connection or errors, alt text ensures that the message isn't lost.

  • Reducing bounce rate: Users are less likely to leave a site when they can understand all content, including images.

  • Improving load times: In cases where images are suppressed (like for users with low bandwidth), pages may load faster, providing a better user experience.

  • Facilitating navigation: For image-based navigation elements, alt text guides users through your site effectively.

Challenges of alt text

Some common issues of implementing alt text include:

  • Overly generic descriptions: Alt text that is too vague doesn't provide value to users or search engines.

  • Technical jargon: Using complex language can make alt text inaccessible to the average user.

  • Neglecting to update alt text: As website content changes, alt text must be updated to stay relevant.

Examples of effective alt text usage

  • Ecommerce sites: Online stores often use alt text to describe products, which helps visually impaired users shop with ease and also boosts SEO for product images.

  • News outlets: Media sites provide alt text for their news images, ensuring that all readers can follow current events, regardless of visual ability.

  • Educational institutions: Universities and online learning platforms use alt text to make graphs, charts, and other educational materials accessible to all students.

Best practices for using alt text in web design

To effectively implement alt text in your web design, consider the following tips:

  • Describe function and context: Be accurate in explaining what the image is, what it does (if it's a button or link) and how the intent of the image within the content of the surrounding web content.

  • Avoid redundancy: Don't repeat information that's already present in the text near the image or stuff keywords excessively.

  • Use proper length: Aim for conciseness while being descriptive enough—usually no more than 125 characters.

  • Avoid words like “image of” or “graphic of”: Screen readers already know that the alt text is describing an image.

Alt text FAQ

When should I use alt text?

Alt text should be used for all images that convey meaning or content on your website.

Can I use the same alt text for similar images? 

How do I handle decorative images?

How do I add or edit alt text in Wix? 

Does Wix automatically generate alt text for my images?


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