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Three Roles of Website Maintainers: Designers, Coders, Editors

By David Katten, Web Accessibility Specialist

Building and maintaining a website is never a solo project. In a website’s lifecycle, at least 3 people will have input: the designer, the coder, and the editor. Sometimes the roles are combined and a person will have multiple roles. 

Designers are responsible for the look and feel of a site, how it is visually structured to convey information.

Coders typically help realize the designer’s vision using HTML. Editors create and update the copy that we recognize as “content”. It’s a pretty simple process, but where does accessibility fall? Whose job is that?  The correct answer is that it’s everyone’s responsibility, but in different ways. Designers have to design using colors that have sufficient contrast (i.e. to ensure access for low-vision users) and practice good typography.

Coders are obliged to know and use HTML to its fullest, using the right tags in the right places. One of the most challenging aspects of web page building is that there’s always a million ways to get the page to look the same, but only a few ways to structure it correctly for users who have disabilities.

Editors have an important role as well, as they are the ones most frequently making changes. If you are a content editor, you can improve accessibility by following these 4 tips:

  • If you post an image, give it appropriate ALTernate text
  • Structure the page; give it a title, use headings to break up sections, and use lists where appropriate
  • Tables must have header cells and a caption
  • Avoid “click here” - link text should describe where the link goes

Sacramento State offers web accessibility training for all faculty and staff. The training is specific for roles, and there is a course targeted at designers/developers, and another less technical course for content editors. Accessibility is all of our responsibility, so come learn how easy it is to create and maintain a website for everybody.  For more information about web accessibility requirements contact the Web Accessibility Specialist at ati@csus.edu.

Do you have feedback regarding the ATI? Email us at ati@csus.edu