Why should you make your website accessible? People take using websites for granted. They use social media daily, manage their finances online, buy products from eCommerce sites, and more, all without a second thought. However, for people with disabilities, using websites can be tricky. And the challenges they face are most significant when a site has not been designed to be accessible. Indeed, for most people, a poorly designed site is merely annoying. For someone with a disability, though, the site can be unusable.
Despite all the talk about inclusivity, many websites do not meet accessibility requirements. Perhaps so many organizations have been slow to make their sites accessible because they believe the costs outweigh the benefits for a minority audience. However, there are more advantages to designing accessible websites than some realize. Here are ten reasons why it would be to your advantage to make your website accessible.
1. Broadens Your Audience
The first reason to build accessible websites is purely commercial. According to the World Bank, 15% of the population lives with a disability. Consequently, if your site is challenging for visually impaired people, those with motor impairment or other disabilities, you block out up to 15% of your potential audience. Consequently, you have a cost justification right here. Making your website more accessible could increase your sales by 15%
2. Making your website accessible creates a Better User Experience
Designing a site for accessibility does not degrade the user experience at all. The features of an accessible site benefit all users. Straightforward navigation, for example, would be welcomed by all your users. Color combinations with good contrast will make reading content easier for everyone. And allowing keyboard-only navigation will help those with temporary injuries as well as those with permanent disabilities. Indeed, many of the requirements for an accessible site tick a box on the list for excellent UX (user experience) design, too.
3. It Has SEO Benefits
Many best practices for SEO (search engine optimization) coincide with those for an accessible website. The correct use of ALT tags to describe images, for example, benefits visually impaired users. It also helps search engine bots interpret the image. Similarly, readable URLs (uniform resource locators), descriptive hyperlinks, and well-organized headings make a site more accessible and have SEO benefits.
4. Provides a Competitive Advantage
Making a site accessible can give you an advantage over your competitors. Your site could be the first in your sector to meet accessibility standards. That would make your site easier to use for more people than your competitors’ sites. That would broaden your audience, and being the first to have an accessible website would also be a PR (public relations) coup.
5. Improves the Mobile Experience
There are many overlaps between mobile-friendly design and accessible design. For example, surrounding clickable elements with whitespace to make them easier to click on a mobile device will also benefit people with physical challenges. Furthermore, improving the user experience on a mobile device benefits users of desktop computers, too. Consequently, regardless of their device, all users win when you adopt accessible web design principles.
6. Encourages Innovation
Prioritizing accessibility in web design encourages innovative solutions that make a website easier to use for everyone. And it can be the beginning of creating a more inclusive brand. The thought process required to develop an accessible website can also be applied to customer portals, product information, manuals, and other aspects of customer service.
7. Comply with The Law
There is legislation regarding accessibility in some countries, including the European Union Web and Mobile Accessibility Directive and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There has been some debate about whether the ADA applies to websites or only physical premises. However, the courts upheld a case brought by a blind consumer against Domino’s Pizza regarding the accessibility of their website. Laws requiring sites to be accessible are likely to become more prevalent. Consequently, making a website accessible now will ensure that you comply with current and future legislation.
8. Avoid Negative PR
A website that is difficult to use for a sector of society can be regarded as discriminatory. For example, in the case mentioned above, the Dominos website denied blind people the ability to order a pizza online. However, it’s not only the law that brands need to be concerned about if their site is not accessible. There is also the damage that the negative PR (public relations) could cause. The public will likely call out an inaccessible website, and news of that nature can travel fast.
9. It’s the Right Thing to Do
Most people would come to the aid of a disabled person if needed. At the least, you would hold a door open for a person in a wheelchair. So, it is only an extension of that behavior to do the right thing and make it less challenging for people living with disabilities to use your website. What’s more, there is no significant additional cost to design an accessible website. All it takes is a bit of research and thought.
10. Everyone Will Appreciate Your Efforts
Everyone wins when you make your website accessible. People living with disabilities will be able to use your site. And those without disabilities will benefit from an excellent user experience, too. And the fact that you are providing an inclusive service will help your brand image. So, designing an accessible website is both commercially and morally the right thing to do.
As you can see from the above, website accessibility brings many benefits. There may be a cost involved in redesigning an existing site to make it accessible. But, in the future, accessible websites will become the norm. And there are commercial benefits that will more than offset any cost. So, if you want to maintain a credible presence on the web, investing in accessibility today is the way forward.