Optimizing your Shopify store for accessibility is crucial for success in eCommerce. It's not just a moral and legal necessity but also boosts your Google ranking. This guide focuses on best practices for writing ALT-Text, essential for both accessibility and SEO. We'll show you how to enhance user experience and improve your store's visibility online. Let's get started on maximizing your eCommerce potential.
When creating alt text descriptions, it is essential to not only accurately and vividly describe the content of the image but also to contextualize its relevance to the specific webpage or product it accompanies. Consider the image below of a snowboarder: On a mountain resort's website, this image would emphasize the quality and appeal of the resort's slopes and terrain. However, on a retail page selling snowboards, the focus would shift to the snowboard itself, detailing its features and design.
Envision the accompanying image on the 'Custom Pro Snowboard' product page, featuring a fictional professional snowboarder in action. Below, you'll find several examples of suitable alt text descriptions:
Basic ALT Text Example
A woman snowboarding performing a turn in the snow
This alt text is descriptive and straightforward, but it could benefit from mentioning the product name or brand for context.
Improved ALT Text Example
A female snowboarder performing an exhilarating turn in the snow on our Custom Pro Snowboard.
This alt text is informative and provides context by mentioning the product name ("Custom Pro Snowboard") and the rider's gender. It adds a touch of excitement with the word "exhilarating."
Optimal ALT Text Example
Leading snowboarder Jenny Jones performing an epic carve showing the strength and durability of our Custom Pro Snowboard.
This alt text excels by including the athlete's name, Jenny Jones, creating a more vivid and engaging narrative. It successfully highlights key attributes of the snowboard, like 'strength and durability,' linking the image directly to the product's unique selling points.
While accessibility experts suggest a range between 100 and 160 characters, in our examination of WCAG and ADA Compliance guidelines, we've found that there is no explicit character count specified for accessibility descriptions.
The emphasis in WCAG guidelines is on conciseness, advocating for alt text that is as brief as possible while still being descriptive. They understand that certain scenarios, particularly with complex images, might necessitate longer descriptions to adequately convey the necessary information.
Bad example (309 characters.)
A man, donned in Viking Jacket, is showcasing their remarkable durability and advanced waterproof features by navigating through a dense, misty forest. His journey, amidst the challenging underbrush and intermittent drizzles, highlights the pants' ability to withstand diverse and demanding natural conditions.
At 230 words per minute, a speech reader would take about 11 seconds.
Good example (118 characters)
A man showcasing the durability and waterproof features of the Viking Jacket in rough terrain whilst hiking in the rain.
At 230 words per minute, a speech reader would take about 5.2 seconds.
It's crucial to consider that screen readers like JAWS often truncate ALT Text at 300 characters. This fact emphasizes the importance of brevity in alt text to prevent the loss of essential information.
Yes, AI ALT text generators vary in effectiveness. At Caseo.ai, our testing of various other A.I powered image reading tools has shown mixed results. Effective A.I scanning tools must not only recognize elements in an image but also understand their relevance to the page's context. Currently, Caseo.ai stands out as the only app that integrates product data with AI-generated descriptions.
What we've observed with Caseo.ai users is intriguing. Rather than using the tool as a complete replacement, they are employing it more as an assistant. Users typically begin their descriptions with the AI-generated text and then make necessary refinements. This approach underscores the tool's role in streamlining the process while still allowing for human input and customization.
Basic alt-text automated apps that merely concatenate product title, vendor name, and product variant fall short in serving users with vision impairments. Such simplistic tools fail to deliver a comparable experience to sighted users, as they do not adequately describe the images, missing out on crucial visual details that are essential for a comprehensive understanding of the product.
Also, these simple bulk Alt Text Shopify apps create repetitive descriptions that can lead search engines like Google to view the content as duplicate or irrelevant, potentially harming search rankings. Therefore, it's important to write unique, descriptive alt texts for each image to enhance accessibility and improve SEO.
As mentioned above, It's important to avoid repeating the same phrases or keywords in alt texts for different images on the same page. Redundancy can lead to a monotonous experience for users relying on screen readers and may also negatively impact your website's SEO. Ensure that each alt text is unique, providing a distinct and relevant description that contributes to the overall context of the page.
Including relevant keywords in your alt text can improve SEO, making your website more visible and accessible to a broader audience. However, keyword stuffing, or the overuse of keywords, can negatively impact SEO performance and the user experience. Keywords should be integrated naturally into the description, enhancing the information provided rather than detracting from it.
To truly understand how your alt text performs, test it with actual screen reading software. This practice will give you insights into how your descriptions are interpreted and read aloud, allowing you to make necessary adjustments. Testing with screen readers helps ensure that your alt text provides the intended context and enhances the user's experience effectively. This step is crucial in making your Shopify store not only legally compliant but also genuinely accessible and user-friendly. A popular text reader you can use is Jaws.
Automate your alt-text generations using our leading our A.I powered tool, Caseo.ai, loved by Shopify merchants. Download today and receive 15 complimentary smart descriptions on install.