Why Website Accessibility Matters For Business Growth
It is crucial for a business to have an exceptional digital presence nowadays. Most prospective clients will search online for services they need, and enhancing the level of website accessibility ensures all visitors can use your website.
However, creating and maintaining a website will only get you so far. To structure your website in a way that sparks the most business growth, enhancing the accessibility of your website ensures all your online offerings are inclusive for all users.
Regardless of how you tackle web accessibility, the best thing you can do is to consider how your web page looks to your customers. To reach as many people as possible, your website should not only look appealing but also be accessible for people with varying disabilities.
Why Website Accessibility Matters
While all businesses should understand the importance of being online nowadays, not all understand that website accessibility is a vital element of your website.
Web accessibility refers to how user-friendly your website is. While it is great to have a stunning website that is full of important information, you will not see the kind of success you have been expecting if it does not have a good user experience. As the user experience of a website improves, it propels business growth as more people can then become engaged in your offerings.
As you increase the volume of users that can successfully access your website from a range of devices and see them spend more time on it, you will see increased success. Creating a website that is suitable for only some of your customers will only get you so far. Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate web accessibility standards to accommodate people from all walks of life, including people that have disabilities, such as hearing loss and epilepsy. Ensuring that your website content is optimized for accessibility so that people of all abilities can access it with ease is the key to business growth that many brands neglect.
Legal Implications of Website Accessibility
Website accessibility is required by law in many cases. The European Accessibility Act of 2019 requires websites, computers, smartphones, and e-commerce platforms to be compatible with assistive technologies. The American Disabilities Act (ADA), which was introduced in 1990, covers website accessibility in the United States as it was composed to prevent discrimination against disabled individuals. In turn, inaccessible elements are deemed discriminatory and are in violation of Title III of this law. The UK Equality Act of 2010 protects individuals from unfair treatment and covers website accessibility.
Some high-profile website accessibility cases include Domino’s Pizza where an individual filed a lawsuit against them for their app and website being incompatible with screen reading software. The individual claimed that it was impossible to order customized pizzas, and take advantage of online-only offers. Nike was sued in 2018 for having empty links and alt text within their images.
What Is Website Accessibility?
Website accessibility is an umbrella term referring to how easy it is for people to interact with specific websites. These guidelines have been created to help disabled users easily access websites, so they can get the information they need and want.
Website accessibility standards are starting to be regulated around the world by governing bodies to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity and the same freedom to use each website. While it is now becoming a part of government guidelines for businesses to make their websites accessible for people with disabilities, a lot of businesses are still unsure of what they need to do to follow these accessibility guidelines.
The whole purpose behind website accessibility is to allow for and ensure that anyone using the internet, regardless of any disability they may have, can contribute, engage, navigate, and perceive the information they require with ease.
Accessible websites are made to suit a range of people with disabilities and feature web content that can be accessed by people with varying disabilities, including:
While assistive technologies may assist some disabled users, it is important to note that as a business owner, your site needs to adapt to the needs of them as much as possible. As well as reaching disabled people with issues such as being hard of hearing or sight, your website should also be optimized for accessibility when it comes to other issues too. This can include visitors with slow internet speeds, low bandwidth, specific limitations such as temporary disabilities, and those who use smaller screens such as a smartphone.
By ensuring that your website checks all the boxes when it comes to accessibility, you are providing a great experience for all of your customers and clients, which in turn will impact your business growth. People who are harder to reach, such as those in rural locations with a limited internet connection or aging customers with poor technology information, should be able to find your business online to explore your services. When it happens, you are guaranteed to build a strong customer base that will continue to grow.
What Are The Most Important Website Accessibility Features?
While there are many forms of accessibility guidelines that web developers use when creating websites, businesses should familiarize themselves with key areas of website accessibility.
Here are three major categories of web content accessibility, based on the standards of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) that, as a business owner, you need to be aware of:
· Disabled people who require adjustments in UI and site design, for example, minor visual impairments, color blindness, and similar conditions
· Blind people who use screen readers to get information online
· People with motor skill impairments who use a mouse and keyboard when online
Website Accessibility Guidelines
This ensures all text transcripts, images, images description, image information, audio files, and all other web content is presentable to all people. Within these website accessibility requirements, you must have the website tools necessary to give people an alternative web design based on their abilities to ensure that they can see content and media files in a way that is accessible to them.
· Providing text alternatives for non-text based content, such as images and video elements. This will allow people to change it into other forms that they can understand, such as larger font size, braille, or symbols
· Ensuring the process of seeing and hearing content on the web is simplified, such as separating foreground web elements from the background, so they are clearer
· Have a simple layout and develop content that can be presented in many ways to tailor to all needs and disabilities
· Offer captions and other alternatives, like audio information and subtitles, for people with specific needs
Your web page has to be visible and operable to people with all types of disabilities. This means that no matter the type of disability, they shouldn’t have any accessibility problems when trying to access information on your page.
There are several tools and web standards that you can use here for guidance, both in the development process of your web applications and beyond. It is important that an accessible web page does not require any action or motor control that people may be incapable of doing.
To ensure that your web page is operable, there are some things you can do, such as:
· Avoid content that can cause seizures and other physical reactions, such as bright, flashing colors.
· Make it easy for people to navigate the web page by offering help and assistance when they are trying to find content
· Ensure that people can use other inputs as well as a keyboard, making it accessible to those who use a mouse or screen reader
· Ensure that there are no time limits when it comes to consuming content, so people can absorb things at their own pace
· Make all functions accessible through a keyboard as well as other means
The whole purpose of having a web page for your business is to give clients the information they need about your services. This means that people of all abilities should have the ability to successfully understand and use features on every web page.
Being understandable is one of the key aspects of web accessibility as it impacts everyone who clicks on your site or finds your brand through a search engine. When it comes to making your web page understandable, the accessibility guidelines are:
· Ensure that content appears in predictable ways, such as large columns of steady text
· Choose a font for the text that is clear and understandable, avoiding alt text and movement on the page
· Use error identification to help people see their mistakes and change them as needed, such as in a transcript or when filling out forms for a newsletter, contact page, and similar
To optimize website accessibility, all content on the page, including alt text and captions, needs to be robust so all users can interpret it. Even those with disabilities have the human right to have access to information online, which means that your web page needs to be robust and easily interpreted even when reading through a screen reader or similar evaluation tools.
The web accessibility initiative for this guideline is to maximize the compatibility of site navigation with the use of current and future assistive technologies. This is a great way to avoid future accessibility barriers and ensure that your sites can be accessed on all kinds of web browsers and through devices such as a screen reader, speech input, and similar resources.
How Do You Achieve Web Accessibility?
While the above accessibility guidelines are useful for most kinds of software and can help you pass an accessibility audit, the next steps are all down to your effort.
To improve the accessibility of your site to ensure business growth, there are some steps that your team should follow. Usability is not something that you work on once to pass accessibility testing and never interact with again, but rather it is something that requires constant adjustments.
The best practices for web accessibility are those that allow for constant interaction by people of all ability types, which can mean that you should budget increased maintenance costs to perform future adjustments to your website.
If your goal is to have total web accessibility, then the following steps are ones to add to your immediate to-do list.
1) Use Descriptive Alt Text for Images
Most business owners will already be aware that alt text on a website is very useful when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), but not many understand how vital it is for website accessibility. Adding descriptive alt text to all images on your site provides details that a screen reader can pick up to provide people with visual disabilities a full and varied experience of your site. When adding alt text to images, make sure that it is descriptive and that the images can also be used as links for easy navigation.
2) Make Sure the CMS Supports Accessibility
There is no point in making a lot of adjustments to your web page if the actual foundation doesn’t support accessible tools. Before you select a theme or template for your site, do your research to ensure that your CMS supports any website accessibility enhancements.
The documentation that comes with each web theme should provide the necessary information regarding accessibility and how you can improve it. This documentation can also provide you with information regarding other aspects of the CMS, such as widgets and add-ons, that can also improve users’ experience.
3) Organize Content Logically
This means ensuring that all text is organized predictably and rely on headers to separate sections of your website. The more your content flows, the more that people of all abilities can get out of it and easily find the information they need. For this step, you can rely on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to show a clear distinction between presentation and structure, as well as maintaining the same heading style in all articles.
4) Be Selective with Color Schemes
Many people who visit your web page will have some form of color deficiency, which is why sticking to simple and monochromatic colors for your web page is the best option for accessibility. If you do want to add some color to your web pages, use it along with other visual clues that people with visual disabilities can recognize to ensure that nothing is lost in translation.
5) Make All Content Accessible Via Keyboard Navigation
Some people struggle to use a mouse or touchpad, so ensuring that all content on your website can be accessed using keyboard shortcuts ensures that all visitors have access to the information you provide. Ensure that keyboard shortcuts help users move around your web page.
Website accessibility is very important for business growth because it allows everyone to enjoy your website while your website adapts to the unique needs of users.
Therefore, the average user stays on your website longer, which influences a higher search engine ranking as this is a sign for search engines like Google and Bing that your website is of better quality. Business owners have a set of obligations that they must meet to provide the best experience for their customers. After all, the more customers you reach online, the higher the growth rate in other aspects of your business.
Make sure that your audience can access your site and find exactly what you need with ease to see great success by contacting a well-qualified marketing agency, such as Prime Marketing Experts, that has a high level of expertise in website accessibility.