One reason Michele and I wrote Content for Everyone is to educate more people about creating accessible content and why it’s important. We also hope people who read the book will pass the information on so that over time the web becomes more inclusive for everyone.

I had an opportunity recently to pass on some knowledge and it seemed a perfect thing to share here as an example.

A few weeks ago interviewed author Onley James for Big Gay Fiction Podcast. As part of preparing for the interview, I came across her link tree. For those who don’t know, creators often use a link tree in their social media bio to present links to multiple destinations.

Onley’s link tree featured a pastel colored background that constantly changed colors. The font used is Blenda Script, and the color was white. The combination of the pastel colors, white font and the fancy font created several issues, including:

  • For those with low vision, the words would be nearly impossible to read (and actually it was difficult to read regardless).
  • For those with dyslexia or other text processing issues, the fancy font could pose difficulties as would the lack of color contrast.
  • For those with ADHD or other cognitive disabilities, the constantly moving color background (which had no stop control) could be a major distraction.

You can check out this link tree for yourself to observe the accessibility issues (this link opens a new window).

After the interview, I asked Onley if I could offer some unsolicited advice regarding the challenges the link tree presented to some of her audience. She said “yes” and the conversation was great.

As Michele and I find so often, Onley simply did not know the negative impacts the page’s design caused. She designed a page that looked nice to her. That’s what so often happens. We each design for what appeals to us (this can be true even inside large organizations). As you learn to create accessible content, you understand how to design elements that not only look nice, but are also inclusive of everyone who may want to engage with the content.

Onley took action faster than I could’ve every imagined. Within a couple of hours, she messaged me with a new link tree. The page features bold colors, but the colors didn’t change. The font is easy to read (though we would recommend not to use all caps, as that can also cause some readability issues. The color contrast is correct. Check out the new link tree to see the improvements (this link opens a new window).

As you learn more, please have discussions about accessibility with others. In the book, we mention approaching the topic gently. You want to be kind and helpful, and not shame or accuse. Each time I’ve talked to a creative about something like this, the experience has always been positive. It’s through these conversations that we all continue to improve the accessibility and usability of the web for everyone.

And thanks to Onley for allowing me to share this story and the two versions of the link tree.