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Monday, December 2, 2013

A - Z : ALT Text

Categories: Glossary

What is ALT text and why is it important?

In HTML (one of the code elements we use to create a website), the ALT text is a text field that is associated with an image. Under normal circumstances, a website user cannot see the contents of this field on the webpage and will only see the image. However, its benefits are three-fold:

  1. If the image does not load for some reason, the ALT text will be displayed instead. This way, the user has an idea of what image should be in that location of the web page. This could be due to the user having switched off image loading, is using a text-only browser, has a slow Internet connection or the image link is broken for some reason.
  2. If a user is visually impaired and uses a screen reader when accessing a web page, the screen reader software will read out the ALT text wherever it comes across an image on a page, offering the user a better understanding of the content of that page.
  3. Search engines can obviously not "see" what images on a webpage are all about. The ALT texts allows them to index images as part of the content of a web page. However, please note that in recent times, all of the major search engines have stopped using ALT text as part of their ranking algorithms due to the increase in "keyword stuffing". So stick to providing a meaningful description of the image and if one or two of your keywords are logically part of this then so be it. If you have images of products of a similar type on the same page, make sure to give each images its own individual ALT text to differentiate them without overdoing it with repetitive keywords throughout the page.

As a client, you should therefore take good care when uploading new images into your website and ensure that you always complete the ATL text for each one. In MODX Revolution sites using Redactor text editor, this is called the Title field. In TinyMCE editor used on MODX Evolution and older Revolution sites, it's actually the Image Description field!

screenshot ALT text on MODX Redactor

screenshot ALT text on MODX Tiny MCE

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