In the UK alone, some 11 million people have a disability. This can make it difficult to perform trivial tasks that most of us don’t think twice about, like surfing the web.
Of course, not all disabilities make it difficult to use the web, but when designing a website, businesses should consider how inclusive it is for all potential users in order for it to be truly effective. This includes the design, content on the page, and functionality.
So, to make a business website accessible to everyone, here are some tips:
Why is website accessibility important?
It’s a common misconception that accessibility is only for people with limited vision, but there is a wide range of disabilities and situations that can make it difficult to use websites, among other technologies and services.
Although web accessibility laws have recently been changed, many websites are still difficult for people with disabilities to navigate. For example, a recent study found 9 out of 10 UK council homepages that failed basic inclusive design tests.
The web has become essential in modern life – anyone who wants to participate fully in society must be able to connect. It is therefore essential that websites are designed and developed in a way that allows everyone to benefit from them.
From a business standpoint, it also pays to make your website accessible to as many people as possible. Not only can you communicate and potentially do business with a wider range of customers, but meeting accessibility standards will also lead you to best practices associated with web design, usability and simplicity, and SEO. A winner winner!
The Business Benefits of Inclusive Web Design
From a business perspective, when it comes to inclusive website design, there are three remarkable advantages.
First, you can create more opportunities for your business. By designing a widely accessible interface, businesses have the potential to reach a whole new section of customers, who may well have been completely ignored by your competition, giving you an edge. You will reach a larger market, but more importantly, your customers will feel valued and considered.
By making your website accessible, you also minimize the risk of legal action. Ultimately, business exclusion can be frowned upon and costly.
Finally, it is excellent for the reputation of the brand. Making sure a site is truly accessible to everyone reflects the business well to consumers and competitors.
The difference between accessibility and user-friendliness
Simply put, usability is about making sure things are generally ‘user friendly’, while accessibility is about making sure the product in question is available and usable by everyone.
Looking through a usability lens, it can be easy for designers to dismiss accessibility. For example, if you have a well-produced corporate video on your website as a sales tool, but without captions or text information, you will instantly alienate hearing or visually impaired customers.
This common oversight also misses the key consideration: accessibility benefits everyone who uses your website.
When a website is streamlined for simplicity, you create a page that’s easy to use for everyone and will load quickly, even on slower computers. You cannot call a usable site if it is not accessible.
Remember that usability and accessibility are similar but different. A site that scores high for usability is probably quite accessible, but an accessible site can be difficult to use if “accessibility” is only from a technical standpoint, so the two should ideally go hand in hand. .
How to make your business website more inclusive
There are a number of things that are crucial to ensuring a website’s inclusiveness – from titles to language to keyboard navigation and more. much more.
For the visually impaired, the titles, images and tables taken into account are not negotiable. Without the “alt tags” option, a blind person will not be able to use your website.
Remember to use helpful descriptions – just saying “Screen reader” like “alt text” won’t help much. Try something more specific, like “How a screen reader helps people with visual impairments”.
For the hearing impaired, closed captions / closed captions are a must have for all video demonstrations and commercials. Even for those who don’t care about accessibility, you should use subtitles for videos as they will help users when they are in a place where they need to keep the sound off or low.
The best way to check if your site is accessible is to use some of the many free tools available on the web today. But, be aware that while these “automatic” testing tools are useful, a level of manual verification and testing should always be performed.
Some of our favorites include:
Accessibility information for the web – This performs full site checks and provides you with a human assessment to follow in order to manually test / review items that cannot be automated.
Web.dev – This is an update to the old information about the speed of Google pages. It uses Lighthouse which is found in the Audit tab of Chrome Developer Tools.