The internet is a great equalizer, bringing people from all walks of life together to create an invaluable resource. However, not everyone can use it in the same way due to physical limitations or other differences. This is where web accessibility comes into play.
Web accessibility is the practice of removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from using websites or apps. The guidelines provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are believed to govern what truly makes an accessible website.
Although organizations may not specifically design their sites for people with disabilities, creating an accessible site can also improve usability for everyone. This can ultimately lead to higher traffic and increased revenue.
Web accessibility is a principle that should be used not only by organizations with a disability services department but also by small businesses that see it as an opportunity to improve. Its guidelines are specific but may apply in the delivery of the following:
If you’re a new business owner, the application of the guidelines given by the W3 can help you build a robust online presence. You may also try other marketing hacks recommended by experts.
There are many ways to make a website accessible. There are also many disabilities to consider, and no two sites will require the same steps to be web-accessible. However, there are some quick tips for implementing measures when making websites more accessible. They include:
Although it may seem too much, creating a web accessibility strategy isn’t difficult, but it does require some planning. Here are six reasons brands need a web accessibility strategy:
There are many ways that web accessibility can improve your brand reputation. Three of these are making your brand more legally compliant, inclusive, and trustworthy.
For some countries, specific laws prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in public accommodations and employment. The application of these laws can extend even when the business is in a digital world. Depending on your location, websites and apps fall under the law, requiring employers to provide accommodations for people with disabilities. Thus, a website that’s inaccessible to people with disabilities can be considered to be unlawful. However, complying with web accessibility standards can help support your case if you’re ever charged with discrimination.
Although internet accessibility may not be required by all countries, keeping your site usable by everyone enhances customer experience, which finally works to improve brand reputation. Having a web accessibility strategy to include all people—not just those without disabilities—creates an inclusive experience for everyone. Not only does it offer an advantage, but it’s also an intelligent business decision many large companies and business organizations have adopted. Today, the effect of taking this step is evident in the strong community and good reputation they’ve built.
Lastly, when companies can provide a more inclusive strategy, they earn the trust of their disabled customers. They show others how dedicated they are to providing equal access for everyone. This can be seen by other brands, which may feel inclined to adopt web accessibility strategies themselves. Therefore, not only does an accessibility policy help your company’s bottom line, but it can also inspire other brands to do the same.
With a website operating under the principle of inclusivity, organizations can expect to see higher traffic and increased revenue. It’s because when people can more easily use a site, they’re more likely to visit and spend money. Also, it makes it possible for anyone to access your products or services regardless of physical limitations or other needs.
A good example is that people who are blind or have low vision can benefit from screen readers that read text aloud. This isn’t just useful for purchase transactions but also for learning about your product and services. If you’re a car salesman, they can hear the car’s description and learn more about its features, even if they can’t see them. Also, people who are deaf or hard of hearing benefit from captions on the video.
Thus, including features such as transcripts, alternative text for images, and options to customize the site makes it more likely that people with disabilities will want to use your website or store. This strategy can lead to a boost in revenue.
Companies that adopted web accessibility strategies as early as possible into the design process are also believed to save millions of the annual costs of working with disabled employees. This effect is possible as transportation benefits for disabled employees may be waived if they can access the same work features from their homes.
Assistive technology can also help companies find that there isn’t a large gap between the capabilities of their disabled employees and those without disabilities. This can make it possible for disabled employees to be part of their company’s long-term goals, especially when it comes to recruitment. By doing so, brands can also enjoy the added benefit of seeing an increase in morale.
With the internet growing every day and more businesses looking at their websites for future development, SEO should be high on many businesses’ lists. One way to make sure your site is ready to go is to be sure that it’s web-accessible. A web-accessible site will help blind and low vision users and those with motor or cognitive disabilities navigate and enjoy your business’s online presence.
Search engines also take note of these sites when they crawl the internet and add them to their ranking list. In the current marketplace, companies with excellent accessibility ratings have a competitive advantage over those without. It’s because websites that are more accessible tend to rank higher in search engine results. This means your website will be seen and used more.
By designing a web accessibility strategy, not only do you build a usable website, but you also make it better for search engine optimization. You can include in your plan things like the site’s HTML title tags, alt-text for images, and descriptive links. These features can make it easier for search engines to understand your page content.
Content is more than just text—it’s images, videos, audio files, interactive elements, and more. If any of these aren’t accessible for people with disabilities, the whole site is inaccessible.
This inaccessibility may likely result in dissatisfaction. However, this area can’t be neglected as brand satisfaction is essential to drive repeat business and loyalty. Thus, some people may opt to purchase your product or subscribe to your service if they’re easier to find somewhere else. When a user doesn’t have an optimum experience with your site, you can also be sure they’ll share their frustration with others.
Remember, companies can make it more likely to keep their clients if their services are accessible. Otherwise, you may lose valuable customers.
6. Supports Assistive Technology
The internet itself is an ever-changing environment. With mobile phones and other devices becoming more powerful each day, the demand to have websites that work across platforms is growing.
Assistive technology use is rising, with people using devices to do more than just surf the internet. Assistive technology means more than just screen readers, and maybe a braille display or a pen-based computer, too. This technology means many are using them even for work purposes. There are more options every day, and the demand for websites that work with these technologies will continue to grow also.
Also, designing accessible websites will distinguish your site from competitors, demonstrating that you’re innovative and aware of the latest technology trends.
Companies are beginning to realize that websites are becoming more than just a marketing tool as they’re often the company’s face. Therefore, they can determine whether potential customers will do business with you.
Fortunately, attracting customers to do business with you is possible through a web accessibility strategy. Although a web accessibility strategy requires some effort on the part of web developers, it’s worth it when considering all the benefits they bring to companies in terms of brand reputation and user satisfaction. Its other benefits include increased morale among employees, improved search engine optimization, retention of customers, and compatibility with assistive technology tools.
With the benefits companies gain from having an accessible website, there’s no more reason to put it off. So, if you’re a business owner, it’s time to start thinking about an accessibility strategy today.