An accessible Web site is easily approached, easily understood, and useable for all. There are accessibility standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium, which all sites should adhere to as much as possible.
Web site owners should be aware of accessibility standards, because most designers and developers often ignore them. It is a waste of your investment to develop a great site that many Web surfers may not even be able to use.
While personal sites can get away with more innovative technologies, most commercial sites should not go overboard. If you do business internationally, or with customers who are located anywhere but in a city, the userís bandwidth is a big issue. If it takes longer than a few seconds to open a document from your site, users are likely to move on, to another site that will work faster. Sites that receive a large amount of traffic will also save on hosting fees by keeping downloads to a minimum.
Search engine spiders will have an easier time indexing your pages when the links are standard HTML text. Text links also improve your positioning on search engines. If the text in your site is within a graphic or a Flash movie, most search engines won't even be able to pick it up, and you may never show up for the phrases you wish to be found for.
If your site takes away the ability for a visitor to utilize certain browser functions, you will lose more than you will gain. Removing tool bars, not allowing text resize, and functions that automatically redirect a user to another page and then do not allow for the "back" function, are all tactics to avoid.
These are but a few examples of accessibility issues. Ultimately, a Web site can never be accessible enough. Awareness is step one.
Del Maxwell is owner of The Web Agent, a web design firm with over 200 sites experience. For more information please visit http://www.the-web-agent.com.