Diving Further Into WordPress Website Accessibility

So you know a bit about WordPress accessibility, but still, you want to learn. Great!

The WordPress community is dedicated to Core Accessibility.

Accessibility Coding Standards Promise: Any new or revised code released in WordPress will conform with WCAG 2.0 guidelines at Level AA.

The accessibility of a WordPress website depends on 3 factors:

  • Theme
  • Plugins
  • Content

 

Designers, creators, and site owners also influence if the end product is accessible.

Developers play a significant part in the accessibility mix. The issues can not be found until someone reports they can’t see or do anything on the website.

What Can WordPress Developers Do To Make The Sites They Build More Accessible?

The right method is improving accessibility from the start. Rectifying accessibility problems with a site is often more time-consuming and difficult to do (though it might happen often).

So, this is what you should do:

  • 1. Choose An Accessibility Ready Theme
  • 2. Use Plugins to produce Accessible Content
  • 3. Teach Customers to Add Accessible Content

 

Tota11y, a Khan Academy developed usability visualisation toolkit, is an awesome developer tool. Simply attach their JS file to your site to allow the accessibility feature, which appears in the shape of a tiny glasses icon tab.

1. Choosing an Accessible Theme for WordPress

The first step on a fully accessible website is to select an accessible theme. Many theme developers take the time to implement the instructions in the WordPress theme accessibility guide, so it is best to ask the author whether a particular topic is accessible or not.

WordPress also includes free themes. Find the submenu under the “Function Filter” heading and click on the cog icon.

There are many options you can choose to filter your search. In the Features section, click the feature above that is reliable readiness.

You can then select any number of filters. On the left, you will see a Filter button that shows the number of filters applied. Click Apply filters. Then, select a topic.

It is important to note that the fact that a theme is labelled Accessibility Ready does not mean that it is “fully” accessible. However, if a theme developer marks their theme as accessible, they probably made some effort into making it accessible. If you encounter any issues, let them know so they can update it for other users.

2. WordPress Free Plugin Solutions For Accessibility

You may be creating your own WordPress theme, or you using any theme you want. One of the amazing things in WordPress is the availability of tens of thousands of add-ons. Whenever you need something, there is usually an add-on that can fit into your website.

My personal choice is WP Publishing, which comes with a variety of tools to help you find and fix the most common problems you find when using WordPress. It requires very little expertise and minimal setup.

WP Accessibility Helper (WHA) is another option in a range of options that include several useful features for skipping links, changing font size, scanning domains, contrast mode, and more. The features you want to include can meet more specific accessibility requirements.

Fonts: Create a font size widget for your sidebars. This makes it easy for readers on your site to resize text according to their needs.

Another easy-to-read option is the Zeno Font Resizer. The plugin allows webmasters to set the font size as well as the font size options. So when users return to your site, they’ll see the font size as they specified before.

Text-to-speech: For readers with visual impairment, text-to-speech features offer audio options for the blind. 190 WordPress add-ons offer a voice of human quality, support over 30 languages, and work with most topics.

G-speech text-to-speech solution is a free alternative for accessible audio. It works with any text on your site and adds an audio block to your site. You can then use these options to change the colour, speaker sound, and more.

Forms: You can easily access your contact forms through the Contact Form 7 plugin. This allows you to set default values for forms and formations, such as WCAG form fields, or readily available forms, such as add-ons.

3. Testing Your Website Accessibility

Once you’ve created your website, it’s a good idea to review your changes. There are many methods and software that you can use to make the experience enjoyable, but there are a few that make testing easier.

One that we mentioned earlier in this article is the Tota11y. Along with this, you can use WAVE Web Accessibility Diagnostic Chrome extension. This auxiliary device displays all errors, warnings, features, structural features, ARIA labels so that you can edit them accordingly.

Once you’ve created your website, it’s a good idea to review your changes. There are many methods and software that you can use to make the experience enjoyable, but there are a few that make testing easier.

Apart from Tota11y, the WAVE Web Accessibility Diagnostic Chrome Extension helps auxiliary device displays all errors, warnings, features, structural features and ARIA labels so that you can edit them accordingly.

Conclusion

Website accessibility is just as important, if not more essential than directing traffic to your website. You should make sure anyone who lands at your website will completely understand and navigate through all the information available there.

That’s why we recommend these accessibility features and the right plug-ins to make them work. If you want to make your website fully accessible, these tips should give you a head start.

If you want us to look at your website and suggest/implement ways in which we can improve your accessibility, feel free to drop us an email at [email protected] and we’d love to help you! Alternatively, you can get in touch with MangoMatter Media and they would be very happy to assist you.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development and web site design. His expertise is WordPress & Magento as well as many other frameworks. Would you like to work with Nathan? Send him an email on [email protected]

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9 Reasons Why You MUST Avoid Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins

What are Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins?

Nulled WordPress themes and plugins are basically pirated copies a paid version which is available unethically on the world wide web.

Not only does it cause great WordPress companies that invested a lot of time creating great plugins/themes, but most importantly it compromised the security of websites that are using these nulled WordPress themes and Plugins.

Quite often, the reason your web site get’s hacked is because of using nulled themes and plugins. As web site owners, you may not even be aware that your site is using these nulled plugins/themes, which is why it’s always important to use good/trusted developers or reputable agencies.

Here are some of the top reasons why you MUST avoid using nulled WordPress plugins and themes on your website.

1. Security

In terms of website security, nulled plugins and themes are extremely dangerous to your website as they are known to carry malware.

This malicious code can spread across different files and even other websites on your server. These malicious codes may not be noticeable on the frontend as more often than not, they disguise itself which makes it harder for programmers to detect and clean up when your website is hacked.

If you’re not taking regular backups, you could even potentially lose all your websites data if your website is hacked. In addition to this, you risk your website being de-indexed from search engines for distributing malware.

2. Privacy

The types of malicious code in which nulled themes and plugins can vary quite significantly. This can include code that steals information from your WordPress site and makes it available to hackers on the dark web.

This information could include your username, email address, and passwords. If you run an e-commerce website or a membership website, you also risk having personal information of your customers being leaked. Now, this can become quite costly to your business if this was to happen. Quite often, people get nulled themes and plugins because they can’t afford the cost. The price isn’t in fact that much when you compare against the number of risks that can occur and how it could actually end up costing you a lot more in the end run.

These kind of hacks are hard to detect and may go unnoticed as your WordPress site keeps functioning normally.

3. It’s Bad for SEO

Pirated WordPress themes and plugins can destroy your WordPress SEO. Nulled WordPress themes and plugins can add spam links to your website or hijack your users and redirect them to bad websites.

These things may not be noticeable visually as they are working in the background, hidden inside your code. Trust us though, search engines will be very quick to penalise your website by dropping your search ranking or even de-indexing your website completely!

What’s even worse is that it could take months to recover your websites SEO rankings…

4. Legal Issues

Many WordPress themes and plugins are open source, but some of them are sold with mixed types of licenses. This means that some parts of the code are protected by copyright laws and if you are using a nulled WordPress theme or plugin, then you don’t have the legal permission to do so.

What this means is that Pirated WordPress themes can result in data theft, data loss, or distribution of illegal material. All of these can lead to legal proceedings where you may end up paying huge sums to lawyers.

5. No Access to Updates

Most WordPress themes and plugins regularly release updates to fix bugs, add new features, and close security issues. Nulled WordPress themes and plugins cannot receive those updates because they don’t have a valid license key.

This leaves your WordPress site with an outdated version which will be less secure and possibly even ends up not working. WordPress itself regularly releases new versions and sometimes themes and plugins need to be updated to remain compatible with the latest changes. Since nulled theme or plugin can’t be updated, your website may start misbehaving or become inaccessible. In some cases, you won’t even know that there is an update available or even know if it’s compatible with the latest WordPress version.

Even the most experienced WordPress users need support and documentation to properly use some of the premium WordPress themes and plugins.

Developers of these products spend a lot of their time on providing support and creating documentation for their users. They even hire support specialists to answer questions and regularly add new tutorials.

If you are using a nulled WordPress theme or plugin, then you are on your own. You cannot ask the developers to help you out when you need help. You also don’t get access to documentation and tutorials because those are only available to users who purchase the plugins/themes.

7. Access to New Features

As we have already mentioned, WordPress themes and plugins are updated regularly and often these updates include new features. If you are using a nulled WordPress products, then you won’t be getting automatic updates, and you wouldn’t even know that there are new features available.

These new features can significantly improve your website and help you earn more money online. However, you will be totally unaware of any changes and will be stuck with an outdated version.

8. Unethical use Discourages Innovation

Some people may argue that some plugins and themes are just tiny bits of software, and quite simply, they will use nulled plugins and themes because they can’t afford the costs. However, this tiny piece of code is the result of someone’s skill, talent, and hard work. By using nulled software, you are taking away money from the creators.

Developers not only spend their own time writing code, but they also have to provide support, create documentation, make a website, hire support staff, and spend a lot of money to run their business. Using nulled software hurts their business and they end up losing money.

These unethical practices may discourage developers from creating new innovative products that can benefit millions of users!

9. The Abundance of Free Alternatives

There is no reason for anyone to use nulled WordPress themes and plugins. No matter which WordPress theme or plugin you choose, there is more than likely one or suitable free alternatives available for them.

For great WordPress themes, we tend to use ThemeForest, they offer a massively library of themes to choose from and more often than not, you will find a great theme which will require very little customisation to get a great website for your business up and running.

If you are looking for some great WordPress plugins you can use CodeCanyon, again, they have a massive stock of great premium plugins you can purchase if you can’t source a suitable free plugin from WordPress.org.

WordPress.org has thousands of free plugins and themes. Some of them are even better than the paid/premium products. Most importantly, you can use them legally with no burden on your conscience and without affecting WordPress community negatively.

Well, we hope you have found this article useful and can agree with the fact that nulled plugins and themes should not be used.

Do you have a website that has been affected by malware? Get in touch with us at [email protected] and we will put our full efforts to fix and recover your website!

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development and web site design. His expertise is WordPress & Magento as well as many other frameworks. Would you like to work with Nathan? Send him an email on [email protected]

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Advantages of developing bespoke WordPress Themes over Templates

Here are some advantages of building a custom WordPress website as opposed to using an off the shelf WordPress Template.

1.Theme Consistency

Pre-built templates are developed by several different developers so there will be very low consistency with how themes are structured and coded. Everything from HTML, CSS, and naming conventions to functions will vary massively which can often make even simple tasks such as tweaking a column width an overly timing process. This alone is a reason to develop a bespoke theme as it will save you plenty of time in the long run.

2. Creating something unique

With a template you could end up with a great looking website, however, if it looks like a clone of thousands of other websites out there, it will most certainly get lost amongst the noise. WordPress drives nearly 20% of the web, and if you have a website that looks no different to several others; people will be less impressed and also less likely to come back to you. Creating a bespoke theme gives you the opportunity to create something different that looks exactly how you want it.

3. Faster Development

Building a bespoke website will allow you to develop a website with SEO in mind. The website will be developed in a very consistent way, in terms of HTML, CSS, naming conventions. It will definitely save you time in the long run as any updates or additions to your WordPress theme would be much easier as we would already know which CSS styles to modify or function that needs to be modified before making the change.

4. Only using features your project needs

With the majority of the theme templates on the market, they come packed with options to customise your WordPress site. Most of them will not be used, adding unnecessary files, styles and bloat potential processing. Developing a theme from scratch means that you will only have functions, styles, files and structure the website needs. This will keep the website clearer and cleaner.

5. Increased speed

Website speed is incredibly important. Search engines are beginning to penalise slow websites. An off the shelf theme is packed with unnecessary code and functions. A lot of themes have several different theme templates built into one Theme so you can only imagine how this is going to affect the performance.

6. Less reliance on plugins

A great feature of WordPress is the availability of plugins, however this makes it too easy for users to use a plugin for even the most basic of tasks. Theme templates come overloaded with plugins and overtime you will end up spending a lot of time wondering why plugin A is not working with plugin B. In a custom built theme, very few WordPress plugins are used as these are hand coded and built for your website. So not only is maintaining the code a lot easier, but the website will only be using functions that are needed for the website.

7. Updating the website

With a bespoke website, the backend of the website will be a lot clearer and easier to update. Each page of the website will have custom editing tools for specific pages. A template would have a very generic editing tools where the user would still need to know some HTML and CSS to be able to change a page or even more importantly, update a page without breaking the themes structure.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development and web site design. His expertise is WordPress & Magento as well as many other frameworks. Would you like to work with Nathan? Send him an email on [email protected]

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Our top 3 favourite WordPress Starter Themes

What is a Blank WordPress Theme?

A ‘Blank WordPress’ theme is a boilerplate that serve as a starting point for developing your own custom theme, hence the name; ‘starter themes’.

Blank WordPress themes come with basic WordPress PHP, CSS, and HTML code and theme files already filled out for you saving hours of coding time!

Unlike theme frameworks, most of the files in a blank WordPress theme are meant to be modified based on your needs.

Why Use Blank WordPress Themes?

A blank WordPress theme speeds up your workflow by reducing the amount of code you need to write. Having a skeletal foundation means you don’t have to do the same initiation process over and over every time you need to start creating a new theme.

In addition, using a blank WordPress theme lowers the chances of you forgetting critical files or code required for a theme to function properly.

Some blank WordPress themes will also have useful integrated features like responsive layouts and sample data to help you test your theme.

Do not mistake these with Premium themes with ones you will find on ThemeForest, these are designed to be a ‘blank canvas’ to create your own WordPress Theme. I also use a starter theme like one of the ones below when creating bespoke websites for my clients.

Here are our favourite three:-

1. Underscores

Underscores, or _s, is a free blank WordPress theme developed by Automattic, the creators of WordPress.

The tutorial series by ThemeShaper (a major WordPress theme development company) will help you learn how to create WP themes using Underscores.

I use Underscores for every new theme I develop. It saves me hundreds of hours of coding! The great thing about it is that you can set the Theme name, Author & Theme Slug when you download which means you don’t have to do a find and replace when setting your theme name (which, coming from experience, can break things sometimes).

2. Roots

Roots is an excellent open-source WordPress starter theme. It’s built with HTML5 Boilerplate and Bootstrap (if you don’t need it, you can replace or remove it). It also has Grunt files for quickly compiling LESS code and combining your CSS and JS files.

A nifty feature of Roots is its Theme Wrapper, which helps you avoid having to write the same code in multiple files.

Check out themes built using Roots at the Roots Gallery. Get started with Roots by heading over to the project’s official docs.

3. Bones

Bones is a free blank theme built on top of HTML5 Boilerplate. It’s responsive and developed under the Mobile First philosophy.

WPtuts+ has an excellent Bones tutorial to help you get started with this awesome starter theme.

 

Nathan da Silva - Profile

Posted by: Nathan da Silva

Nathan is the Founder of Silva Web Designs. He is passionate about web development and web site design. His expertise is WordPress & Magento as well as many other frameworks. Would you like to work with Nathan? Send him an email on [email protected]

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