Last reviewed: 24 June 2021


Write accessible content

An important but often overlooked aspect of accessibility is clear, structured content.

There is a lot to consider when making making content accessible. Here are some common issues.

You can also find guidance in our digital accessibility standards.

Common issues

Plain English

Use plain English to make your content as easy to understand as possible.

According to the National Literacy Trust, 16.4% of adults in England have very low literacy skills. Lots of people have English as a second language. Lots of people are tired or distracted when using one of our products or services.

Use simple words and sentence structures. Do not use specialist terms and unusual words or phrases. If you have to use them, explain them.

Go to the accessibility standard on literacy.

Go to the accessibility standard on unusual words and phrases.


Use clear descriptive headings to give structure and hierarchy to your content. This helps people find the information they are looking for.

Front load your headings and sub-headings – that is, put the most important information at the start – so that people scanning the page can find important information more easily.

Go to the accessibility standard on page titles and section headings.

Go to the SEO guidelines on headings.

Logical order

For people to understand content, it needs to follow a logical order and have a clear relationship with other content.

Keep pages as simple as possible and make sure they make sense when read top to bottom. Following a proper heading structure will help with this.

Include the most important information at the start – what the purpose of the page is, and who it’s for – to help people know whether they’re in the right place.

Go to the accessibility standard on structure.

Alternative text

If you’re using images that add meaning and context to the content, provide alternative text. This means that assistive technology users do not miss out on any context or information.

You should:

  • describe the image
  • be as clear and brief as possible

If an image is only decorative, such as page dividers or shape graphics then you do not need to provide alternative text.

Go to the accessibility standard on text alternatives.

Link and button text

Links allow users to navigate to a new page when they select them.

Button text should be actionable. For example, ‘Sign up’.

Do not use text such as ‘click here’, or anything that does not make sense when read out of context — screen readers can read link text in isolation without the surrounding content.

Make link and button text, clear, concise and based around actions. For example, ‘Book tickets'. This will help make it clear to people where a link is taking them or what a button will do.

Go to the accessibility standard on links.

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