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Making Your Emails Accessible to All Readers

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Subject Lines Matter:

The subject line of your email should accurately reflect the content and be concise, so subscribers know whether or not the email is worth reading.

Logical Reading Order:

Screen reader users rely on the reading order of your email to navigate the content effectively. Ensure that the reading order of your email is logical and as intended.

Summarize Information Upfront:

Provide a short summary of the important information upfront, reducing cognitive load for your subscribers. You can then provide expanded details later.

Use Headers:

Screen reader users rely on page elements like headers to determine the informational hierarchy of a page or email. Use HTML headings, such as <h1> and <h2>, to identify important sections of your content.

Keyboard Accessibility:

Not everyone uses a mouse, so ensure that your content is fully keyboard accessible and demonstrates visual focus at all times.

Effective Color Contrast:

It’s crucial to have effective color contrast and avoid using color alone to differentiate things. A 4.5:1 contrast ratio for normal text and 3:1 for large text is recommended.

Avoid using tables:

Tables are not supported by most email clients, so headings and lists should be used instead to communicate structure in emails. Important to also note when using tables in emails, it’s best to rely on headings and lists to communicate structure.

Ofer transcript for subscribers:

If you include links to videos in your emails, offer a transcript such as “Click here to view our PRD”. It’s also recommended to include a plain-text version of the email and provide an option to view the email in an HTML format.

Provide alt text:

Alt text is an important aspect of email accessibility for images. Alt text should be short and descriptive and highlight the relevance of the image to the message.

Avoid directional language:

Directional language should be avoided in emails, as it requires the reader to see the layout or design of the page. This can be a challenge for mobile users who might experience layout changes. Hashtags should also be written in camel case, which not only enables accessibility but also improves understanding and readability for all users, for example use #PM101IsAwesome instead of #pm101isawesome.

In Conclusion:

These best practices for email accessibility can make your emails more user-friendly for all users, including those who use screen readers or have other accessibility needs. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your emails are inclusive and accessible to everyone.

  • Ensure the subject line is clear and relevant.
  • Use logical reading order and summarize important information upfront.
  • Use HTML headers for informational hierarchy and not just styling.
  • Ensure full keyboard accessibility and visual focus.
  • Avoid using tables and rely on headers and lists.
  • Use effective color contrast (4.5:1 for normal text, 3:1 for large text).
  • Avoid using color alone to convey meaning.
  • Use meaningful link text and proper alt text for images.
  • Don’t hide information in images.
  • Offer transcript for videos.
  • Provide plain-text version and option to view email in HTML format.
  • Avoid directional language.
  • Use camel case for hashtags.

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Thaisa Fernandes

Product Management & Global Partnerships | Host @ Latinx in Power Podcast | Book Co-Author @ Mulheres de Produto