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What the heck is an alt tag and why do I need it?

Don’t overlook this small but mighty detail

Every time you upload an image to your Dirigible website, you should enter alternative text, or alt text, into the block settings field. It’s an important step to make sure that your site is accessible for all users.

What is alt text?

Alt text is a short bit of text that gets paired with a contextual image and describes the contents of the picture. It’s what gets displayed if an image fails to load or gets read to someone accessing a page through a screen reader. While this small detail can be easily overlooked, it’s quite important!

Who benefits from alt text?

To put it simply–everyone! Including Alt text gives users with visual impairments or a less than stellar internet connection the same experience as everyone else. Depending on your industry and location, providing can also be mandated by law. {jump link to cite #1}

Alt text is also great for SEO purposes. When someone searches the internet, search engines use alt text to determine the content of an image on your page.{jump link to cite #2} Having good, relevant alt text makes your images and pages more likely to be boosted in search results, and can lead to more traffic being directed to your website. Talk about a good deal!

How do I write good alt text?

Good alt text is concise and strikes a balance between being descriptive yet short and sweet. It gives detail and context to the contents of an image, so include specifics on what is happening in the image and any relevant people, places, or objects.

  • Be specific in your descriptions; if your image is of a particular place, event, or object, make sure to call it by its name in your alt tag.
  • Don’t get too bogged down in the details, though, and keep your alt text short.
    • Search engines will not read any alt text past 125 characters, although try and stay well below that threshold–alt text any longer than a short sentence can become distracting to those reading it. Be meaningful with those characters you use, don’t waste them by including phrases like “image of’ or “picture of” — this information is already implied by being part of an alt tag.
    • Don’t repeat any information or phrases said in photo captions in your alt text, instead provide a new description to keep things fresh and away from redundancy.

When should I use alt text?

Use alt text on any non-decorative image on your website. Images such as menu icons or decorative banners don’t need any alt text, as they are not necessary for understanding the content of your page. If you include alt text on these kinds of images, it could cause confusion for those accessing the site through a screen reader.

How to add alt text on your site

{kindra video}

Interested in learning more about alt text? 

We recommend these articles for further reading.

How to Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions for the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind

Write good Alt Text to Describe Images, Harvard University

 Alt Text: What Is It & Why It Matters for Accessibility & SEO, Semrush


  1.  “California Acupuncturists Stuck with Digital Accessibility Lawsuits.” WCAG Audits, ADA Accessibility Audits & Section 508 Audits, 18 May 2023, 
  2. “Should I use alt-text for images with text?” English Google SEO office-hours from March 18, 2022”,