Why is website accessibility important to the continued success of your website? Because it not only gives you a competitive edge and makes it easier for your current users to access your website, it also opens the door to a lucrative, often untapped audience.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the top three reasons website accessibility is important to the health and success of your business.
But first, what is website accessibility?
Website accessibility refers to the implementation of standards, practices, technologies, and design that improves the digital experience on websites, online tools, and devices for people with disabilities. In short, website accessibility ensures people who visit your website can read and interact with its content.
3 Reasons Why You Need to Implement Website Accessibility Best Practices
#1 Minimize Legal Risk
Building websites with accessibility in mind is a trend that is here to stay. Companies of all sizes are beginning to understand the importance of accessibility and the impact that inaccessibility has on their business. In recent years, we have seen a substantial increase in accessibility-related litigation for violation of the American Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Globally, countries are adopting disability standards to ensure people with disabilities have access to online products and services. In the U.S., the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) Level AA guidelines are the current industry standard for creating accessible websites. While maintaining your website’s ADA compliance is a legitimate reason for adopting accessibility standards, there are additional benefits for incorporating accessibility into your website.
Not sure how can you ensure ADA compliance for your website and minimize legal risk? Red Door can help. Learn more about our website development and accessibility services.
#2 Increased Market Share
Did you know that approximately 26% of the U.S. population has a disability? Designing for accessibility on your website means reaching many more customers and increasing your market share. According to W3C’s Web Accessibility initiative, “annual discretionary spending of people with disabilities in the US is over $200 billion,” and for the most part remains an untapped market. For companies in the global market, discretionary spending is in the trillions. These numbers are projected to grow as the U.S. population ages. When websites are not accessible to users with disabilities, companies miss out on revenue opportunity as users will completely abandon their website and never return if they are inaccessible, most often ending up at competitor sites.
#3 Better User Experience for all Customers
Incorporating inclusive web design means reaching the most diverse group of customers possible. Often, it results in innovative design and better user experience and usability for all users, not just users with disabilities. For example, ensuring there is enough contrast between text and the background, makes it easier for users who have low vision or color blindness to see text. Likewise, ensuring there is enough text contrast makes it easier for sighted users to read content on a wide range of devices and in many kinds of environments (low light environments, for example). While ensuring text contrast may not be a complete accessibility barrier for a sighted person, they certainly benefit from this design inclusion. This is true for many design features and functionality outlined in WCAG 2.1.
Another example is including text alternatives for video content, such as captions or subtitles, that allow users who are hard of hearing to follow along by reading. This also benefits users who are not deaf or hard of hearing as they consume content in noisy environments; in fact, this accessibility feature is primarily used by users without disabilities.
“In physical environments, everyone takes advantage of lower curbs, automatic door openers, ramps, and other features provided for disability access. On the web, accessibility features become options that are also often used more widely.” - W3C’s Web Accessibility initiative
Ultimately, designing for accessibility means meeting people where they are by removing barriers and designing a flexible experience. The result is higher conversions, higher customer satisfaction and engagement, expanded overall reach, and an increase in return customers.
New to WCAG? Our user experience and accessibility experts have created a guide to help our audience understand what’s included in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Color Contrast Example courtesy of eLaHub
When to Incorporate Accessibility into your Website
If you are planning to redesign your website, now is the time to include accessibility as a requirement for your redesign. Including accessibility into the early stages of your website redesign is much more cost efficient and reduces the chances of expensive rework later. It also reduces your legal risk, which can be costly.
If you are not ready for a redesign but want to take steps to become WCAG compliant, it is important to understand the current state of accessibility on your website and to make a plan to proactively bring your website up to the latest industry standards. For help with your redesign or an accessibility audit and roadmap, contact us today.