What is an Accessible Website, and Why Should My Business Have One?

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Does your business have an accessible website? A guiding principle of great web design is that every website should be accessible to anyone who visits them, but what does that mean? Accessibility refers to the idea that the site works perfectly for all types of users, regardless of their physical or technical abilities to navigate, view, or interact with the site’s features.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of intentional website accessibility, including how Calman Design and other accessibility professionals can make it easier.

Why is it Important to Have an Accessible Website?

An accessible site does not exclude people with disabilities like visual impairments. Can all people use the website, including older people, residents of rural areas, and people with limited technology or Wi-Fi in developing countries? If not, there is an entire market segment your business is missing.

Expand The Brand’s Reach

A penny jar knocked over with pennies scattered across the floor.

Making a website accessible ensures that all potential visitors can buy products or services, including individuals with barriers to entry. The online spending power of the UK population with access needs was £24.8 billion in 2019 – no small consideration for a business that wants to expand its reach. In one survey, retailers lost over $15 billion in one year because consumers with disabilities could not shop on their websites, a great reason to acknowledge the potential commercial benefits at stake.

Improve User Experience

If user experiences on a website differ widely, there is a web design problem. Not all users have the same abilities. For example, about 8% of all men struggle with colour blindness or deficiency.

Even if a website is fully accessible to the blind, it might still be confusing for colourblind individuals. A website design that is truly accessible will offer equally enjoyable user experiences for all visitors, including those with colour blindness.

Prioritise Compliance

The law expects a business or service provider to treat customers fairly, including those with disabilities. For example, the UK’s Equality Act of 2010 requires all service providers to consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ for physically impaired people online and in-person. The United States mirrors these ideas with various federal laws that cover website accessibility regulations, including the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

For example, the ADA requires companies to accommodate disabled users and provide web-based accessibility. In 2019, parties filed around 2,200 civil ADA lawsuits involving web accessibility. Of course, that tally does not include the companies who received demand letters and opted to settle.

The European Accessibility Act requires all e-commerce operators to meet its minimum accessibility requirements, which should be an excellent incentive to avoid future lawsuits surrounding your brand’s accessibility.

Overhaul Search Engine Optimisation

Laptop displaying search engine Google

Another benefit of designing or redesigning an accessible website is that improved search engine optimisation or SEO is part of the package. Optimisation has many advantages for a business that wants visibility online, including driving web traffic by ranking the site on search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engine crawlers read and rank website content in the same way that screen readers help visually impaired people read content online, and optimisation makes this process simpler.

Other accessibility features also improve SEO, including alternative text for images and video transcripts that widen your target audience.

Why Could Your Company be Missing Out?

A company can have the best content and products, but without an accessible website design, it cannot reach the expected target audience. Below are a few common web accessibility issues that we recommend reviewing:

Low Colour Contrast

Poor text and background colour contrast are among the most overlooked website accessibility issues. They mostly affect individuals with poor vision and colour deficiencies, so it is important to ensure that all the text on the website is as easy to read as possible.

No Alt-Text on Images and Links

Alternative text (alt-text) allows visually-impaired users to rely on screen readers that read aloud the web content. Without alt-text, they miss crucial information relating to the website’s images, including all-important product catalogues. Complex graphics with embedded text also need descriptive text and captions to ensure that these users can understand what is on offer (this category extends to all website linking and buttons).

Illegible Resized Text

Visually impaired individuals usually increase the size of the text to be able to read and understand it properly without assistive technologies. However, many websites are extremely difficult to read when a user resizes the text to 200%. They may lose critical website information or see the content overlap, problems that an accessible website design would remedy.

At Calman Design we focus on these details, including how the text and font sizes reflow to fit the available viewing area with the proper use of HTML and CSS.

Inaccessible Interactive Features

Does the site rely on fancy widgets, online forms, and other interactive elements? It is crucial that these features are accessible or provide alternatives. Check that your users can complete forms without fancy widgets and label the fields, button text, and other features properly.

How Might it Increase Your Sales as a Business?

Can website accessibility potentially boost sales? Yes.

Access to a Larger Audience

Close up of a man's eyes

A 2020 study by WebAIM revealed that over 98% of the world’s top one million sites did not offer a fully accessible experience as per web content accessibility guidelines. So, only 2% of websites were capitalising on the $1.2 trillion spending power of the disabled population! The numbers are astounding, including that around 71% of disabled people will immediately leave an inaccessible website for a competitor.

Ignoring accessibility is not an option, especially where potential revenue is the price of complacency.

Brand Value

Socially responsible brands draw loyal customers. For example, a 2018 study revealed that 87% of customers would purchase a product from a business that advocated for issues that were important to them. Another 2019 survey mirrored these findings, showing that over 55% of global consumers would pay more where a brand makes a positive impact on the world.

Accessibility is an excellent way to create positive changes in company culture, enhancing its potential brand loyalty in this newly aware market.

Competitive Customer Service

A fully accessible website is a user-friendly one, which ensures convenient communication with all potential customers. People can easily access critical information about the business and remain loyal to the brand if they ever develop a disability in the future. If a customer loses their ability to see, they will still be able to enjoy a great experience on an accessible site to support a brand they love.

Simplified Online Shopping

Why optimise an online store for easy accessibility? One reason is that search engines favour reliable website structures. When you label information properly and pair images with clear descriptions, the site is more visible online, and sales can flourish.

How Difficult is it to Add to Your Website?

A woman thinking with her laptop

Is it difficult to make a website more accessible? When one considers that accessible websites deliver information through various sensory channels, the concept seems less intimidating. For example, accessible sites might incorporate additional navigation features, such as keyboard-based control and voice-based navigation to enhance the standard point-and-click interface.

Combining a multisensory and multi-interactivity approach ensures that, regardless of their disabilities, users can access the same information as the nondisabled population.

Best practices to keep in mind when designing an accessible website include:

  • Downplay colour. Colour should be secondary to the navigational features and not the primary method of differentiating items.
  • Remember alt-text for images. Complex graphics should include more comprehensive descriptions near the image.
  • Vary functionality. Can users easily access the site through keyboard and mouse and voice-control systems?
  • Upload transcripts. Include transcripts in the site’s podcasts and provide in-sync captioning for videos to ensure visual access to the audio information.
  • Provide shortcuts. Ensure the website has a “Skip Navigation” feature to make it simpler for disabled users.

Implementing these best practices sends a welcome message to all potential users. Everyone can access the information they want about products or services, and the setup complements countless other web design best practices. For example, mobile web design, multi-modal interaction, and SEO function better when a website is accessible.

When professionals like us at Calman Design curate key features, one of the most important tasks is to test for accessibility. A professional can also provide a comprehensive evaluation of the site while it is still in the developmental stages and easy to fix.

Does your website comply with all accessibility guidelines? At Calman Design we can help you through various evaluation tools online and years of experience.

How can Calman Design help your business going forward?

Is your business ready to design a website that affords all potential visitors full accessibility? A website that is readily accessible with responsive designs and easy navigation can work on all devices and reach any potential clients. Whether you are creating a new site or optimising an old one, accessibility is crucial to showcasing your brand as forward-thinking, socially responsible, and fully engaged in the real world.

Feel free to talk to us for more about how your company can participate in the benefits of an accessible site. Our team helps with all stages of building or redesigning a website, including finding the best hosting package to meet your business needs.

Get in touch with Calman Design today, and let’s see how a more accessible website can help you achieve your business goals.

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