Unlocking the power of website accessibility
Discover how website accessibility enhances the user experience, benefiting every customer – not only a minority of people with disabilities.
Website accessibility is essential, as it benefits not only minority users but also ensures a seamless experience for all individuals.
Accessibility. That’s been the word coming out of many of our clients’ mouths this year.
While most businesses understand the importance of having an accessible website, they tend to overlook the immense benefits that a proper website accessibility strategy can bring to their customers and their bottom line.
In this piece, we’ll explain why every business should strive for an accessible website – not just to comply with the law – but also to enhance their customer experience, gain a reputation as an inclusive brand and expand their brand’s market reach.
Why accessibility is good for business
We’re noticing two big misconceptions around accessibility that a lot of businesses hold:
First, that being accessible is just a compliance issue that has no broader business benefit – we’re here to tell you that couldn’t be more wrong. Being accessible is good for business.
Consider this: in the EU, approximately 87 million people are living with disabilities and in Denmark alone, 21% of the population faces challenges in navigating the online world.
If you neglect your website accessibility you risk alienating users with disabilities and miss out on a huge market – and the numbers backs it up! A 2019 Nucleus Research study estimated that US e-commerce retailers were losing up to $6.9 billion of revenue opportunity to more accessible competitor websites. Ouch.
Subtitles and good contrast are some of the features that enhance the user experience for everyone, regardless of disability.
Not only for the minority
The second misconception is that accessibility is just about making your website usable to a small minority. In fact, accessibility and better usability go hand in hand, benefiting both people with permanent disabilities and those with situational or temporary limitations.
Consider the example of accessibility features for visually impaired individuals.
By implementing accessible design principles like screen reader compatibility, alternative text for images, and keyboard navigation, websites become easily navigable and engaging for people with permanent visual disabilities.
But these accessibility features also caters to situational or temporary challenges. Whether someone is experiencing eye strain after an operation or struggling to read in bright sunlight, features like adjustable font sizes, high contrast options, and responsive design enhance the user experience for everyone.
And we all know that superior user experiences lead to happier customers, increased conversions, and repeat purchases!
3 BENEFITS OF WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY
1. Improved CRO to boost sales
With better user experience (for everyone) comes higher conversion rates and basket sizes, which leads to higher sales. Research has shown that websites with better accessibility can experience a 20% to 30% increase in conversion rates. Moreover, a recent study found that e-commerce retailers reportedly lost out on $828 million during the 2021 season due to inaccessible design. In short: neglecting website accessibility can have major negative impacts on the bottom line.
2. Better SEO to increase traffic
Accessible design can also boost your organic traffic (search engines favour accessible content), and in turn, your conversions. In fact, a study revealed that better website accessibility can potentially increase traffic by 18%. Moreover, there’s a lot to indicate that your customers will also favour a more inclusive website. In fact, 75% of 18–34-year-olds believe that digital accessibility is a civil right, not a privilege.
3. Broader reach and enhanced loyalty
More than 1 billion people worldwide live with disabilities. Yet, a study by WebAIM revealed that 96.3% of home pages had detected WCAG 2 failures! This highlights the potential market share businesses can tap into by prioritising accessibility. But you’re not only reaching a larger customer group with accessible design – you also increase the chances of your customers returning when you offer excellent and frictionless user experiences.
Enhancing User Experience for All
If you’ve ever watched a Netflix show with captions on, increased the font size on your phonor asked Alexa a question with your voice, you’re using accessible technology. Many inclusive principles have now shifted into being mainstream examples of good user experience.
For example, 70% of Gen Z use subtitles ‘most of the time’ when watching video content. They listed better understandability and avoiding disturbing people around them with noise as key reasons behind this. Accessibility innovations are finding broader applications every day.
Being mindful of the continuum from permanent or temporary disabilities to situational impairments can help you rethink how your design can scale to more people in new ways. Let’s dive into the three categories of disability that businesses who follow inclusive design principles will better cater to:
In the United States, 26,000 people a year suffer from loss of upper extremities. But when we include people with temporary and situational impairments, the number is greater than 20M. Find the full report here.
What you need to consider from a legal perspective
If your website isn’t accessible, you’re excluding millions of potential customers. And by 2025 you’ll also potentially be breaking the law.
The key piece of legislation you need to know about is the European Accessibility Act. The wide-ranging accessibility legislation is already a legal requirement for the public sector, and by 2025, most private sector businesses will also need to comply with its terms.
If you’re a business that sells products or services online within the EU, the Act will affect you. In fact, it specifically states that ‘e-commerce’ is covered.
But web accessibility isn’t a one-off project. Or just a matter of compliance. It’s about continuous improvement. That means that your web pages, product descriptions and even PDFs should be accessible. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. it doesn’t mean your website needs to be accessible to every single person in the world, immediately. By getting the right accessibility roadmap in place this year, your website can soon be accessible to the vast majority of people.
There’s a further business case here: the EU Commission estimates that eliminating accessibility barriers can reduce business costs by up to 50%!
In summer 2022, the new accessibility law was passed, and by 2025, the law will become binding. This leaves you with a two-year window to ensure your website’s accessibility compliance before it becomes a legal requirement.
How do I get started?
At IMPACT, we’re all about changing commerce for the better. So, guiding our clients on how to incorporate accessible design principles into their e-commerce platforms is a natural fit for us.
That’s why we set up the IMPACT Accessibility Taskforce. We don’t think of accessibility as a ‘one-off’ project, or as an add-on service. Instead, we treat it holistically. We strive to make our clients’ platforms inclusive at every touchpoint, from design, to backend to QA.
Most recently, we’ve performed an Accessibility Review for our client Indeks Retail A/S.
In collaboration with IMPACT, we reviewed our site for accessibility and identified several areas that fell short. We've now mapped out the necessary changes to achieve our goal of universal accessibility and will incorporate them gradually during ongoing site development.
Did you know that the average website has 50 accessibility issues? Solving that problem requires a four-step plan:
Want us to boost your website accessibility?
Get in touch with Yasmin. She’ll help you get started on your accessibility roadmap!
Why choose an accessibility partner?
Seen a software company offering a ‘one-click-compliance solution that guarantees accessibility? We get the appeal, but we recommend you look away. These companies are increasingly coming under fire from accessibility organisations and courts for breaking accessibility laws and even making websites less accessible!
And don’t count on them to protect you from legal trouble either. The online glasses company, Eyebobs, was sued for having an e-commerce site that was incompatible with screen readers by a blind plaintiff: despite using an accessibility overlay solution. Eyebobs was court-mandated to fix the issues.
When it comes to accessibility, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
By making digital inclusivity part of your business strategy and thinking about it holistically, rather than as an afterthought, you can set your business up for long-term success, expand your customer base and build loyalty towards your inclusive brand.