How accessible is your CMS? Two sides of the accessibility coin

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Monday, 10 January 2011

In November, Webdragon posed the question "how accessible is your website's CMS?"

There are two key aspects to reaching an answer to that question: the front-end of the website, and the back-end.

Front-end accessibility

The front-end of the website is what's typically available to visitors: publicly browsable information and pictures. It can also include private sign-in areas and e-commerce functionality.

It is vitally important for this to be accessible to the public to meet the disability discrimination legislation in the region where your customers are located, and this is now something on which many CMS providers place at least some focus.

Back-end accessibility

Just as important however is the back-end of the CMS: the area that website administrators use to make changes to the website.

In many situations, this section of CMSs is completely inaccessible on a number of fronts:

  • Basic usability for all users
  • Usability for people with a disability

Users often require a large amount of training (several days) before being able to manage any information within the back-end of a CMS.

Even worse, often the back-end requires the use of restrictive systems that simply aren't usable by people using assistive technologies.

While it may be that, at launch, only people who are technically able and physically able to use the CMS are asked to do so, it is important that the future needs of people be taken into account to ensure that an organisation's CMS is usable by as broad a base of users as possible.

When selecting your organisation's website (and CMS) strategy, it is crucial to remember to address both sides of the accessibility coin.

For more information about accessibility, and the accessible WebdragonCMS, contact Webdragon.

2 Comments

    • Michael Spellacy
    • Tuesday, 18 Jan 2011
    • 02:27pm
    • Reply
    Great post. I'll add on to this and say that most of the time (at least in my experience) the training people receive is only focused on using the tool itself and not on how to properly format content to be more accessible. Some clients I work with will drop a nested table into their content without thinking twice about it. While things are better than they used to be on the accessibility front I think we still have a bit more to do when it comes to educating the people who use these tools to publish content to the web. Maybe this comment will help a little. :-)
    • Richard
    • Wednesday, 26 Jan 2011
    • 04:38am
    • Reply
    I would seriously worry about a CMS that required several days of training for end users. I think a few hours should be enough to train someone, particularly if they have some general IT experience.
    It is important that CMS's are made accessible but as with Intranet's there is more scope for being quite specific to the target audience. No-one can be really sure who the front-end users will be, but it is often the case that you know exactly who will be operating the back-end so their particular needs can be taken into account.
    The other difficulty with making a CMS accessible is that unless you are able and willing (and it is cost-effective) to build your own CMS, you are reliant on the CMS developers and in most cases will have to compromise between accessibility, ease of use and cost.
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