Why You Must Take Your Website’s Accessibility Seriously in 2020
Read on to know why it’s worth investing in web accessibility if you haven’t yet.
A website that fails to meet the web accessibility guidelines laid down by WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is preventing people with permanent or temporary disabilities from accessing their business. So, a website with poor accessibility is shutting out 2 billion disabled people or 37.5 percent of the world’s population. That’s not only a huge opportunity lost but also an open invitation to expensive ADA lawsuits.
Yet, very few businesses are prioritising website accessibility. A recent study conducted by WebAIM including one million home pages revealed that 97.8 percent of them had detectable WCAG 2 failures. Poor website accessibility can adversely affect your business profits, the customer base, and reputation.
Read on the know why it’s worth investing in web accessibility if you haven’t yet.
1. Build a Positive Reputation and Public Relations
If your business website is not accessible to all, you are clearly responsible for creating a digital divide or discriminating against people with disabilities. Even if the exclusion wasn’t intended, not having an accessible website can make you look like a firm that doesn’t care about its customers, hampering your brand reputation.
So, take some social responsibility and stand out from your competition by investing in web accessibility this year. This simple inclusive step will help all your customers access your site with ease and strengthen your brand image.
2. Boost SEO
In a way, search engine bots are visually impaired too. They cannot make sense of visual content unless you add context to it. So, when accessible features like an alt image text, meta tagging, or video transcripts are used, the usability of websites and the user experience improves, thereby boosting your SEO efforts.
Accessible websites offer better user experience as their content is well-organized and well-coded. The design and development team takes extra precautions to make the design clear and understandable, encouraging people to stick around for more time. Hence, accessible sites experience low bounce rates, a factor that significantly affects a site’s online ranking.
3. Increase Customer Reach
Globally, people with disabilities represent a large untapped chunk of the consumer market with a sound disposable and discretionary income. A report from Return on Disability compares the value of the disability consumer market to the size of China. In the United Kingdom alone, the Purple Pound – the purchasing power of disabled people and their families – is worth £249 billion a year. Massive, isn’t it?
You definitely don’t want to miss out on the huge opportunity this customer segment holds. Focus on creating an accessible website to expand your customer reach and fuel business growth.
4. Improve Customer Experience
Customers tend to stay loyal to brands that offer awesome experiences. According to a Walker study, by the end of 2020, CX will soon overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. No wonder, customer experience has become a top priority for businesses today.
Incorporating digital accessibility features on your website not only improves the CX for people with disabilities but also allows customers at large to smoothly interact with your business, regardless of the environment.
For instance, design elements and features like keyboard compatibility and voice recognition can boost a site’s CX for all. Similarly, using a high color contrast can benefit a visually-impaired and a person accessing your site in bright light alike. Also, a simple navigational design not just helps the disabled but also an individual who had recently switched from iPhone to Android.
Notice how Choice Hotels offers a high contrast option to make it easy for their visitors to access their site.
Simply put, an accessible website delivers exceptional CX, allowing firms to delight and convert more customers. If delivering ace CX is your business priority this year, focus on creating an accessibility-first design that’s essential for some and useful for all.
5. Avoid Accessibility Litigation Issues
Inaccessibility is illegal. This is probably one of the biggest reasons to focus on web accessibility this year. Though your business may not intentionally discriminate against people with disabilities, ignoring the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can prove to be costly to your business bottom line and reputation.
Look at the website accessibility lawsuits trend. It has been increasing at an alarming rate year on year.
Several businesses, big and small, have seen the bitter consequences of poor web accessibility. Big brands like Amazon, Domino’s Pizza, Burger King, Nike, and Netflix among others were also sued for ADA non-compliance, exposing them to costly fines and lawsuits.
You definitely don’t want to land up in a legal soup this year. So, avoid these common web-accessibility slip-ups that can leave you vulnerable to ADA non-compliance lawsuits.
Individuals with visual and motor challenges and those using screen magnification rely on the keyboard to access the web. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that every action on your website can be controlled using the keyboard. The ADA compliance lays special emphasis on this accessibility feature.
Also, make sure you provide a visual focus indicator for the keyboard focus when the visitor uses the tab key.
Refer to the Macmillan Thesaurus website’s screenshot. Such focus indicators, usually a blue or dotted line, inform the user of their location on the page, allowing them to navigate through the content with ease.
Absence of ALT Descriptions
ADA compliance standards require websites to post visuals with adequate descriptions. This can be easily done using the ALT attribute.
ALT description is the meta tag assigned to the visual content on a website. It simply describes the image, adding context to it. That way, assistive technologies like the screen reader can easily describe the image to people who are blind or suffer from visual problems.
However, remember to keep your ALT text short and relevant to the image. Decorative images can be set to null, like alt="" so that screen readers can ignore them.
Lack of Color Contrast
Color contrast is how dark or bright colors appear on a screen. People who are visually impaired, colorblind, and suffer from cognitive disabilities find it tough to perceive background and font color on webpages. This makes it challenging for them to read the text at a certain contrast level.
WCAG recommends a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 between text (and images of text) and background behind the text. Make sure the color combinations you use for your webpages don’t fall outside these recommended contrast ratios.
Ambiguous Link Text
Several links on a website fail to offer enough details for the visitor to understand its context or purpose. For instance, a link like ‘Click Here’ or ‘Read more’ are rampantly used by websites. However, such links are ambiguous, specifically for people accessing the web using screen readers.
Make sure the link text stands out within the page and clearly shares details about the destination page. Check out DZone’s pages have links that clearly offer context, making it easy for users to skim through the content.
Failing to Test for Web Accessibility
Since digital accessibility is not on their list of priorities, most businesses fail to test their websites for its features. However, considering the ensuing bitter consequences and abundant benefits it offers, it is wise to check your website for accessibility issues on a regular basis.
You can use manual and automatic website accessibility testing tools for this purpose. Technologically-advanced tools like accessiBe use the power of artificial intelligence to scan and analyse a website’s accessibility with respect to ADA, WCAG 2.1, and Section 508. Investing in such tools to make it easy for you to point out and fix the accessibility issues in your site.
Finally, don’t forget to test the accessibility features on your website using a screen reader.
Compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is becoming increasingly important for businesses. Improving the accessibility not only boosts a site’s functionality and business reputation but also protects it from facing costly ADA lawsuits.
Adopt an accessible website design this year to widen your reach, boost your reputation, and avoid unnecessary legal hassles.
(Image Credit: Freepik)