January 7, 2020

Alt Text (Alternative Text) is used to describe an image on a webpage. It's there for three really good reasons:

  1. Search Engines. How does a search engine know what an image is? By adding Alt Text you are giving the search bots something to find and index to improve your search ratings.
  2. Low bandwidth, or dodgy connections. If someone is using a low spec mobile phone, has low connectivity to the internet or just chooses to browse without images to save money then the Alt Text gives some context to the image.
  3. Blind or partially sighted users, or those who are using Alexa or Google Home, can be given some context for the image on the page.

So, unless your image is purely decorative, make sure you have given an Alt Text.

But wait, I thought this was about Twitter?

It is. On Twitter it's possible to add Alt Text to your images. On Desktop go to More > Settings > General > Accessibility > Vision and tick Compose image descriptions. Next time you add an image on Twitter you'll be prompted to add Alt Text.

Unfortunately it's not yet possible to add Alt Text to Gifs.

Good practice is to add Alt Text in [square brackets].

But what if you can't find the perfect image? No problem. Just use #AltTextNoGif and write your description.

You want to celebrate your friend Sally's birthday, a huge basketball fan? Just #AltTextNoGif Sally and Kobe Bryant battling on the basketball field. Sally dribbles past Kobe and SLAM DUNK IT'S HER BIRTHDAY.

No time consuming video editing, no copyright issues, and everyone's a winner.

Want to thank your latest client with a personal hi five? No problem. #AltTextNoGif Jonny thanks Rashid for signing up with a hi five, fist pump and a mighty big hug. No unsightly loss of personal space, no matter where in the world your clients are.

The biggest winner of course is that your real #AltText will start to improve. You'll think more carefully about what images on your website are for. What's the user need for that photo? If you can't write a clear, concise and focussed #AltText, maybe it's time to take that image down.