Did you know that accessible web design is often overlooked or put on the backburner?
With the world moving their businesses online, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been so important to incorporate accessible components into your website. Web design is constantly transforming to create much faster, more agile and user-friendly experiences. However, web designers often neglect to ensure that their designs are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant, which presents a serious problem to those with disabilities.
People living with disabilities are often placed at a disadvantage, unable to take part in online shopping, read blogs or utilize online services due to lack of accessible features. When you don’t make accessible design a priority, site visitors aren’t the only ones who suffer. Businesses can face hefty lawsuits for a lack of inclusivity and lose out on a significant amount of people who make up their target audience. Don’t let this happen to you! There are several benefits and competitive advantages that come with making your website user-friendly for all.
What is Accessibility and Why is it Important?
When a web designer makes a website “accessible”, it means that the site is laid out in a simple, readable format that is usable to all, inclusive of those with physical and learning disabilities. All users should be able to perceive, understand, navigate and interact with your website. Web designers must consider all disabilities including auditory, cognitive, physical, neurological and visual. This will also benefit users with temporary impairments such as a broken arm or those recovering from surgery.
Here’s why accessible design is so important:
- Allows all visitors to efficiently navigate the site
- Easy access to important information
- Improves visitor experience
- Encourages customer loyalty and satisfaction
- Increases likelihood of return business
- Typically increases gross revenue
4 Principles of Accessibility
To create an accessible website, these 4 principles should be considered:
- Make sure to remove any barriers users may have when accessing your content. Develop a website that’s accessible to Screen Readers by offering text alternatives and a logical structure.
- Consider the user interface and navigation to ensure that your website is operable and usable for all users, regardless of the device they’re browsing on.
- All information on your site should be easy to understand, including the text, user interface and navigation. It’s crucial that your site integrates predictable and consistent navigation that’s compatible with multiple browsers.
- It’s crucial that your website can be accessed and interpreted by different technologies and platforms including screen readers. Your website must remain this way, even throughout platform updates.
Avoid Potential Discrimination Lawsuits
Several businesses aren’t aware of the trouble they could face if they don’t take the time to ensure website accessibility. The number of discrimination lawsuits being filed are continually rising and equally impacting small businesses and global corporations like Domino’s Pizza. Losing this type of lawsuit could devastate your budget and your business as a whole!
A not so fun fact – in 2018, the number of federally filed website accessibility lawsuits skyrocketed to 2,285, up from just 815 in 2017. Then, in the first half of 2019, the lawsuits increased by a whole 51.7% in comparison to 2018, making the total number of filings grow to 3200 in just 6 months!
The ADA and WCAG require businesses to accommodate those with disabilities to ensure they’re treated equally. Take a look at the guidelines before you begin developing your new site!
Larger Market Reach
Persons with disability make up a significant chunk of the population. If you haven’t made your website accessible yet, you’re choosing to lose out on a large percentage of your target audience who isn’t engaging simply because they can’t.
A survey taken in the UK found that the nation’s retailers lost more than $15 billion in one year since people with disabilities couldn’t shop on their site. Remember that accessible design opens up your target audience! Purchasing power of persons with disability is estimated to be over $220 billion annually. With that said, remember – accessible design is the right thing to do, not only from a consumer perspective, but also an ethical business standpoint!
Greater Publicity for Your Brand
Prioritizing accessible design will help build a positive brand image by showing how much you value all your customers, inclusive of those with disabilities. Nowadays, consumers are more likely to support brands that align with their own values. Research shows that purpose-driven brands are more attractive than those who don’t support a purpose or cause. Nearly half of all consumers (42%) will stray away from a brand that lacks purpose and 21% of them won’t come back.
Accessible design is one of the most significant social causes that will attract your target customers, especially millennials and young adults. Plus – the more you target these customers, the more likely it is that you will gain ample positive word of mouth. Refusing to recognize accessibility could lead to a PR disaster where you could possibly spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting lawsuits. Avoid this and make your website user-friendly from the start! Build a brand that people recognize as being dedicated to serving all audiences.
Increases Site Usability
When you implement the WCAG accessibility guidelines in your web design, designers and developers can quickly identify and remedy a variety of usability problems. Even those who don’t fall under the definition of “disabled” will benefit from all of these essential features! For example, it has become increasingly popular for people to use the keyboard for navigation or use a text reader to hear emails instead of just reading it themselves.
Always try to empower your target audience and don’t overlook those with disabilities or age-related issues. Even consumers without disabilities who are able to browse with ease, especially on their smartphones, will benefit from these features. This way, you will surely generate more leads!
Improves Site SEO
Did you know that web accessibility encourages better Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? The main goal of SEO is to drive more traffic to your website and make it rank in the top 10 searches, preferably on Google.
When considering SEO, web creators have to remember that search engines are typically text-based and rely on crawlers to read the content on your site in order for it to rank. When you integrate accessible features like alt text for images and video transcripts as per WCAG guidelines, you’re improving SEO. For example, people who are blind often use Screen Readers, which work just like search engines, as a tool to help them read online content. This is a whole new market you’re reaching out to, just by adding some web features that encourage inclusivity.
Make Your Web Design Inclusive!
Businesses need to recognize that web accessibility is no longer optional. Accessible web design helps you experience far more growth potential and will allow you to avoid disastrous legal fees. This may seem like a complex process, but it’s worth it to ensure everyone feels included and to convert customers. Embrace accessible design as a core part of the process! All web design agencies should encourage clients to keep up with this trend, as it is an essential part of a business’s success.