illustration of image icons with question marks

For a moment, let’s imagine that you are trying to navigate your company website blindfolded. That might seem impossible, right? Luckily, you have your best friend right at your side. In this scenario, your friend can’t actually move your mouse or type keys on the keyboard. But, they can tell you where you are on the page, what you are seeing, and what actions you can take. What information might you want your best friend to tell you so that you can comprehend the information on each page?

A scenario: the new trust fall

If your company’s website is like most out there, it will consist of images that help to illustrate the purpose of its pages. And rightfully so. It takes many forms of media to ground users in the problem you are solving for them with your service. Images of homes, condos, and apartments evince that you will help users find a place to live. Photos of a gym, exercise equipment, or group workouts indicate that you might help users find a healthy lifestyle. So, when your friend is helping you navigate your website blindfolded, wouldn’t you expect them to describe the images that you have carefully crafted on your website?

Alt text definition

Alt text, or alternative text, is a short description of an image on your website. It is just one of many properties that we can use to make our websites accessible. It’s a way of informing assistive technologies, such as screen readers, that there’s an image on the page and what the image depicts. When we insert alt text into our websites, magic spells are cast to help people with disabilities, people with slow internet, and search engines.

Spell 1: Assist the assistor 

Assistive technologies are just like your best friend in the scenario described above. Just as your friend may say, “I now see an image of a woman in a dress at the beach near sunset,” assistive technologies would scan your alt text and translate it to the user. It helps to paint the picture of your website – the purpose of each page – to people that may not be able to see it. Most commonly, people with disabilities rely on alt text to navigate your website. Without it, many people wouldn’t be able to understand your website, navigate through it, or conduct business with you. 

Spell 2: Combat slow network speed

There are other cases where alt text might be required, aside from serving people with disabilities. If a user is experiencing slow network speeds, images might not load before users get to them on your website. Instead, alt text, a short description of the image, will appear until the image fully loads. If users are experiencing significant lag time, the images on your website might not load at all. Alt text ensures that all users can understand what you intended those images to mean, even when they might not be able to see them on the screen.

Spell 3: Talk to search engines

And if providing an accessible service isn’t inspiring alone, search engines also rely on alt text in order to parse your website. More and more, search engines are providing results back to users that contain images. How do search engines know which images are relevant to the user’s search term? Alt text! It’s a compass for website crawlers to understand the visual content on each page. So, if you want to appear in the top results of any search engine, using alt text can give you a massive boost.

If you’re ready to make all the images on your website accessible for people with disabilities, users with slow internet, and for website crawlers, Alt Text Magic can catch you up with the click of a button. 

Brought to you with love and magic,
Rowena and the Alt Text Magic Team

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