Picto thématique

Rule n° 184 - Typographic symbols have an appropriate alternative.

The use of web fonts (downloadable fonts) has considerably facilitated the use of a technical trick that is highly appreciated from a performance point of view: replacing the images of various icons with a graphic UTF-8 character obtained using a specific font. However, this entails significant risks, particularly in terms of accessibility, if you do not take care to provide a textual alternative to this character, which is diverted from its default meaning.

#Accessibility #SEO #Presentation #Development


  • Enable users in environments where the CSS fonts used to display symbols are not reproduced (text browsers, screen readers or browsers with the images disabled) to understand the meanings of those symbols.
  • Enable bots to exploit the information carried by those symbols (to reference, index and perform machine translation on the alternatives).
  • Improve the accessibility of content for people with disabilities.
  • Improve the way content is taken into account by search engines and indexing tools.


Provide hidden content for display via CSS for all information conveyed by the use of a specific font.


Examine the code directly to check that each icon displayed through a font has an alternative in the HTML content.

By Opquast - Read the license

Overview and background

The 240 Opquast rules are defined and agreed upon by an extensive community of web professionals and academics. These web quality assurance guidance rules started as a list of best practices 20 years ago. They have since been revised every five years and have been tried and tested via millions of web interactions by Opquast community’s customers, including the leading CMS communities which have developed plugins for WordPress, Drupal and Prestashop. The most recent version, v4, was established in 2020.

Each rule has individual technical sheets and the rules can be searched by project phase or various topics: e-commerce, data-privacy, internationalization, security, code, etc, or by themes: accessibility, SEO, mobile, privacy, and ecodesign. The complete checklist is available on a creative commons license BY-SA.

To learn more about the Opquast approach, read this article published at Smashing Magazine

Broad application and benefits

The rules should be applied to your projects from the design phase through to post-implementation , and they should be understood by all professionals with web and customer experience (CX) responsibilities: from strategy to operations, marketers to project managers, and editorial to technical staff. The benefits of using this ruleset are numerous, including improving customer satisfaction, web performance, and e-commerce, and expanding your client base, while also decreasing your errors and costs.

Multidisciplinary verticles - accessiiblity, SEO, e-commerce, ecodesign etc..- starting from the foundational Opquast base.

Discover Opquast training and certification

The objective of these rules and the Opquast community mission is ‘making the web better’ for your customers and for everyone! Opquast rules cover the key major areas of risk that can negatively affect website users such as privacy, ecodesign, accessibility and security.

Opquast training has already allowed over 17,000 web professionals to have their skills certified. Train your teams, contact us

We offer a 1 hour free discovery module.