Read time: 2 minute 15 seconds

Describe and present content in a way that all users can interpret and understand.

  • Briana has low technical literacy. Briana needs a site’s layout to be clear.
  • Sebastián has low vision. Sebastián uses a screen reader to navigate the web.
  • Merindah has a newborn and attention is often divided. Merindah needs to understand a site’s contents at a glance.
  • Darren is in a crisis. Darren needs to quickly find the right advice.

Steps to take

  1. Read the Australian Government Style Guide on content structure.
  2. Write descriptive page titles. You can’t rely only on visual cues. Someone who uses an assistive technology like a screen reader might not be able to use visual cues to understand a page’s purpose. Make sure your page title explains what the page is for.
  3. Make sure you have good heading structure. Some people use headings to navigate.
  4. Headings must clearly describe the topic or the following section. Use section headings to organise the content.
  5. Use clear row and column headings for tables. This makes it easier to understand tabular information. It helps someone who uses a screen reader to navigate tables.
  6. Use lists as they help users skim content.
  7. If you need to show changes in language, for example, when you use a foreign word in a text that’s mostly English - follow the declaring language in HTML guide from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This will help people understand your content. It helps people who use screen readers and people with cognitive disability. It also helps people using braille translation software.
  8. Check that the HTML document has a language attribute. This is so people who use a  screen reader can read it with the correct accent and pronunciation. For example: <html lang="en">. If you’re not comfortable doing this, ask a developer on your project team to help.
  9. Keep users within the same menu layout when navigating from page to page. Avoid the use of "microsites" which have a different or alternate menu layout.
  10. Use clear labels and instructions on forms. Labels describe what each part of the form does. Provide extra instructions even for form fields that may seem obvious to you. Ensure that questions or labels cannot be confused to mean something else. This can especially help people with autism, or people with lower literacy skills/English as a second language. Start with the most meaningful words and try to limit labels to a maximum of 4 or 5 words. Use action verbs for buttons such as "Add" and "Send".
  11. Use a screen reader (or screen reader simulator) to check your work. Make sure you can still navigate. Check that what you’re hearing matches what’s on the screen.

Supporting resources

Page last updated: 22 June 2021