Frontend developer Jess Budd shares five things they’ve learned from user testing with screen reader users.
- “None” of the users interviewed used the tab key as their primary means of navigation – perhaps unlike the way many of us do manual testing! They’d typically bring up a list of all links or headings instead, and jump straight to the interesting bit.
- When asked to navigate to the homepage, none of the interviewees used the company logo in the top left corner, as most sighted users would. Instead, they searched for a link announced as “Home”. Side note: the alt text for the company logo should describe the functionality of the link, rather than the image itself, i.e. “Home” instead of “YourCompany”.
- Many of the users, upon bringing up a list of links, would type a letter to narrow the list down, e.g. “c”, looking for the contact page. So if your company has gone for more informal language, e.g. “Get in Touch!”, it will make it harder for screen reader users to find what they’re looking for.
- None of the interviewees made their browser window full screen. By default, the browser window only took up a portion of monitor space, giving the mobile styling and behaviour. We can’t assume people are experiencing our desktop layouts just because they’re not on a mobile.
- None of the interviewees use skip links. They have other, more efficient means at their disposal, and they say that skip links often don’t work well because it doesn’t always change the keyboard focus. This is one of those cases where skip links are often more useful for sighted users, even if we might be tempted to think otherwise.
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