What is ALT text & why it should be added to website images?
ALT text is short for "alternative text" and is the description of images on your website. Here is an example of how ALT text should read:
"A clear cylinder vase sitting on a wood table filled with water, one white hydrangea and one blue hydrangea with green leaf accents. The background is a gray wall."
If you do not have a text description next to an image, it is important to take the time to complete the ALT text field. This field can usually be found in the section of your website editor where you add an image.
ALT text should be added to all images on your website for 3 main reasons:
The description added to your images in the ALT text field is what is read by screen readers. A screen reader is technology or software that helps people who have difficulties seeing to access and interact with digital content, like websites or applications via audio or touch.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs everything to do with website accessibility and outlines that any person or organization must make their website accessible and usable if it is for use by the public.
Take the time to complete this and welcome all site visitors to have an enjoyable experience when visiting your website.
Did you know that there is an ALT text field you should complete when you post images to Instagram?
Take the extra few seconds to add the ALT text to your posts to enable all to enjoy your content.
2. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search engines crawl the web in order to index pages. Search engine optimization is the science of increasing the likelihood that website is found by search engines when a person is searching for products and services.
Search engines will also index images. However, the images are indexed based on the ALT text. If there is no ALT text, the images are very unlikely to rank on search engines like Google Images. While the fundamental reason for adding ALT text is Accessibility, there is good reason to include it for SEO purposes as well. The point of creating a website for your business is to be found online-why not increase your chances?
3. Loading Issue
If your website doesn't load for some reason, ALT text will be displayed in place of the image. Images on your website help tell the story of your content and are quite important as people tend to skim. If the website does not load properly, the viewer will have no idea what is meant to be in those image blocks.
As you can see, adding ALT text is a best practice that everyone should be following on their website and anywhere they publish public content. As a website designer, I do this for all client websites and encourage my clients to continue this practice if they update any imagery on their website. It's a simple step that has profound impact.