Intro to the Audit panel

Find and fix accessibility issues with Webflow’s Audit panel.

This video features an old UI. Updated version coming soon!
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Note: This feature is currently in beta as we collect feedback and work on improvements.

The Audit panel flags common accessibility-related issues so you can address them before going live with your site. Critical errors (Audit panel flags with a red square) represent issues where your users may miss out on critical site content, or where search performance may be degraded. Moderate errors (Audit panel flags with a yellow triangle) represent important issues, but are not critical to fix.

In this lesson, you’ll learn all about the Audit panel with the following:

  1. Identify accessibility issues
  2. Fix accessibility issues
  3. Ignore accessibility issues
  4. Unignore accessibility issues
  5. Read about planned improvements

Enroll in the entire accessibility course

Identify accessibility issues

The Audit panel currently includes 3 high-impact accessibility checks so you can identify and fix common issues during the design process. It addresses: 

  • Missing alt text
  • Non-descriptive link content
  • Skipped heading level

As an added bonus, by using the Audit panel and learning from the issues it flags, you can become more practiced and aware of these considerations so they’re part of your design and development workflow instead of an afterthought.

You can access the Audit panel by clicking the Audit panel icon in the bottom left of the Designer.

Pro tip: Press Alt/Option + U on your keyboard to quickly expand or collapse all items in the Audit panel.
The Audit panel button is highlighted in the bottom left of the Webflow Designer.
A close up of the Audit panel and some of its flagged issues, including missing alt text, non-descriptive link content, and skipped heading levels. 
Quick tip: The Audit panel doesn’t include checks for text color contrast ratios, but Webflow has a built-in color contrast checker in the color picker for text elements to help you check your text’s accessibility as you design.
Webflow’s color contrast checker in the color picker for text elements is highlighted. 

Missing alt text

Alt text describes the appearance or function of an image on the page for visitors who rely on screen readers. (It’s also great for SEO.) 

Good to know: A screen reader is assistive technology that renders text and image content as speech, and is used by visually impaired people. It’s also useful for people who are illiterate or have a learning disability.

Why the Audit panel flags missing alt text

Missing alt text means you’ve included images without descriptive alt text or failed to mark that image as decorative. If an image conveys essential information not available anywhere else on the page, a person who can’t see the image will miss out on that information, and search engines are left guessing as to what your image content contains.

The Audit panel shows a series of image assets flagged as having missing alt text.

Non-descriptive link content

Link text should be unique, make sense without the surrounding text, and tell readers what the 

purpose of the link is and where it will take them.

Why the Audit panel flags links without descriptive content

Empty links are links with no meaningful text or image alt text and will confuse people using screen readers.

The Audit panel shows a Link block flagged for having non-descriptive link content.

Keep in mind that rasterized text on an image (meaning the text is literally part of the image and not a standalone text element) is not interpretable by screen readers or search engines. Best practice is to ensure that any descriptive text used with an image is an actual text element.

Learn more about accessible typography

Skipped heading level

Headings give people a sense of a page’s organization and structure, like a table of contents. They let people quickly navigate the structure of your page and break up content to be easily scanned with screen readers or visually. Absent or poor heading structure forces visitors to work extra hard to find what they’re looking for.

Why the Audit panel flags skipped heading levels

Skipped heading levels mean your heading elements (H1, H2, etc.) don’t use proper heading hierarchy. H1 is considered the most important heading, H2 headings would group content underneath H1, H3 headings would land underneath H2 headings, and so on. 

Headings H1, H2, and H3 are shown in their hierarchy with H1 on top, H2 in the middle, and H3 on the bottom. 

The heading hierarchy breaks if you skip a heading level (e.g., you have H1 and H3 headings, but no H2 headings). This can be confusing for people with cognitive disabilities and people using screen readers.

The Audit panel shows an H4 Heading flagged for being a skipped heading level.

Fix accessibility issues

In many cases, fixing accessibility issues involves adding the missing identification. We’ll cover: 

  1. How to fix missing alt text
  2. How to fix non-descriptive link content
  3. How to fix skipped heading levels

How to fix missing alt text

You can assign alt text to images from the Asset panel

An image in the Asset panel has its Asset details modal open so missing alt text can be added.

Or, if an image isn’t meant to communicate semantic information and is only used decoratively, you can explicitly set the image as decorative so that screen readers skip it. 

The Asset details modal allows you to choose from adding descriptive alt text, or setting the asset as “decorative,” which doesn’t require alt text.
Note: To decide if an image is decorative or informative, remove it from the page. If information is missing without the image, it’s informative and needs alt text. Images that are links, buttons, logos, or that contain important information always need alt text.

If the image is under the Asset grouping, it means the canvas image is referencing the asset and the asset does not have alt text. 

The Audit panel shows a series of image assets flagged as having missing alt text.

To fix this:

  1. Click on the target action arrow (this will take you to the asset’s settings in the Asset panel)
  2. Add descriptive alt text or mark the image as decorative
A mouse hovers over an issue in the Audit panel to reveal the target action arrow (highlighted), which takes you to the issue that needs to be resolved. 
An image’s Asset details modal appears after clicking on the target action arrow in the Audit panel. 

If the image is under the Collection list grouping, it means the CMS image is not referencing specific alt text.

To fix this:

  1. Click the target action arrow
  2. Set the Collection images to all have the same alt text, descriptive or decorative 
  3. Specify alt text for each image if you want to bind it to a CMS text field that contains descriptive content for the images. The audit will then trigger for specific CMS collection items if the bound CMS text field is empty. 

If the image is under a grouping with the name of a Collection, it means the image’s alt text is bound to a field in that Collection.

To fix this:

  1. Click the target action arrow (you’ll be taken to the empty field in that CMS Collection item)
  2. Add alt text to the empty field

Tips for writing effective alt text

  1. Describe the intent, purpose, and meaning of the image
  2. Don’t repeat surrounding text (e.g., alt text isn’t needed if a caption fully describes a picture, alt text is redundant, or it repeats names of people in alt text for their bios. That is repetitive text and doesn't describe the picture or how they look.) 
  3. Use punctuation (to help screen readers describe the image with a more human-sounding approach)
  4. Write so blind and visually impaired visitors receive meaningful information about the image from alt text, and keep your description to 1 to 2 sentences of key information (don’t go overboard with your description)
  5. Avoid non-specific words like "chart," "image," or "diagram" — instead describe the meaning or trends shown in the charts, diagrams, or images

Good to know: The following elements’ alt text is not checked, or has limited audit settings:

  • Images in Multi-image fields
  • Rich text images (the target action arrow does not open the image's settings inside the rich text element)
  • Lightbox media

Resources

To learn more about image alt text and screen readers, check out our Alt text lesson, How to Design Great Alt Text: An Introduction and Images must have alternate text from Deque University.

How to fix non-descriptive link content

To fix this, make sure all the link elements on your page have meaningful, descriptive text inside. 

Avoid generic terms like “read more,” “link,” or “click here.” Though the Audit panel doesn’t provide guidance on generic terms, use clear, specific language about the action the link performs to make your link that much easier to use (e.g., “Download assets here”).

A button is highlighted with descriptive link content reading, “Download assets here.” 

You can also use assets that don’t have text rasterized with the image. Instead, place text elements over your image assets. 

A text element is added to a Link block in order to add descriptive link text. 

Remember, if you have image links (like icon buttons), be sure to include alt text for those as well.  

Click the target action arrow (the arrow in the Audit panel next to your link), and then update the link by adding alt text for the image/icon (if the link contains an image).

The Audit panel shows a Link block flagged for having non-descriptive link content.

You can make any alt text changes in your element settings (the settings for your image element) so that your alt text is more descriptive.

An Image element’s settings is shown in the Settings panel, where you can also add alt text. 

Resources

To learn more about how to set links and what options are available, check out our links article on Webflow University and the WCAG Link purpose criterion.

How to fix skipped heading levels

Headings should follow a logical, numerical order that reflects the structure of your content and clearly describes the contents of the section.

For example, the title of this lesson (Intro to the Audit panel) is the only level 1 heading (H1) on this page, the subheadings of this lesson are level 2 headings (H2), and any headings within those subheadings are further levels down (H3, H4, etc). The heading for this paragraph is a level 3 heading and clearly describes the content of this section. 

For example, using an <H2> element for a section title and then using <H4> elements for the section's subheadings will cause the audit to fail because the <H3> level is skipped. 

In the Navigator, an H2 Heading and an H4 Heading appear next to each other, indicating that the H3 level heading was skipped.

If the skipped heading was an accidental omission, you can set it to the correct heading type: 

  1. Select the Heading you want to change
  2. Open the Settings panel (D)
  3. Press the Heading type that was skipped (e.g., “H3”) 
In the Settings panel, an H4 Heading is changed to and H3 Heading to maintain heading hierarchy. 

Resources

To learn more about proper heading order and markup structure, check out the documentation on WebAIM’s site.

Ignore accessibility issues

In some instances, you might want to ignore a flagged issue in the Audit panel. For example, maybe your content requires a skip in the heading hierarchy. Or maybe you’re building on the fly and you choose to build your content out of order. 

To ignore the issue and temporarily (or permanently) dismiss the notification in the Audit panel:

  1. Open the Audit panel
  2. Hover over the issue you want to ignore and press the “silenced bell” icon 
The “silenced bell” icon is highlighted alongside an issue in the Audit panel to show how you can ignore a flagged issue. 

Unignore accessibility issues

Most of the time ignoring an issue is a temporary solution while you build out your design. You can unignore the issue you temporarily dismissed, and re-flag it to be solved as you continue designing and developing. 

To unignore an issue:

  1. Open the Audit panel
  2. Press the disclosure arrow to the left of the issue you dismissed
  3. Hover over the ignored issue and press the “bell” icon
The bell icon is highlighted alongside an issue in the Audit panel to show how you can unignore a flagged issue. 

Planned improvements

While the audit panel is in beta, there are a handful of planned improvements on the way:

  • Better in-product guidance. We’ll be adding a modal per audit type that provides additional context on each and provides guidance on how to resolve them.
  • Support for more audits. We’re planning to add more audits to the future like text contrast, site language settings, and more.

If you have feedback, issues to report, or questions about the Audit panel, let us know in the feedback thread on our forum.

Related reading: Make your site more accessible

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This video features an old UI. Updated version coming soon!