Can web accessibility really help you reach 20% more people?
Companies and marketing agencies spend months designing, planning and testing new websites to ensure they include precisely the right elements. They look at their branding, answering the customer’s needs, SEO, product details and more. But there’s one crucial element which a lot of brands are missing – web accessibility.
At ThinkOTB we believe that websites and apps should be designed with 100% of people in mind, not just 80%. In the UK, around 20% (14.1 million) of people live with a disability, of which over 25% of people have dexterity issues and over 10% have sight problems.
This means that websites and apps which are not designed for web accessibility could potentially be ignored by up to 14.1 million people. Without an accessible site, people with disabilities cannot navigate through your website to find the products or information they need.
So what is web accessibility?
The Government set out requirements for public sector bodies which define designing for accessibility as “making your content and design clear and simple enough so that most people can use it without needing to adapt it, while supporting those who do need to adapt things.” Many websites and apps become difficult for disabled people to use for a number of reasons, including:
- not being easily used on a mobile or navigated using a keyboard
- PDF forms which cannot be read by screen readers (software which speaks the on-screen text)
- poor colour contrast which makes text on a coloured background difficult to read
Designing for everyone
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) are an international set of recommendations for improving web accessibility. WCAG 2.1 is based on four design principles: ‘perceivable’, ‘operable’, ‘understandable’ and ‘robust’, which gives web designers and developers the freedom to think differently about how web and app visitors of all abilities will interact with the content.
The full WCAG 2.1 guidelines details each of the four design principles and their specific requirements. In essence, designers and developers need to:
- Ensure all content (text, video, audio and images) is easily legible for human eyes and screen readers. That means using things like alt text on images, video and audio transcripts, larger font sizes, wider line spacing, and ensuring content reflows logically when text size is increased
- Make sure all content is accessible for keyboard-only users, that voice commands can stop or pause moving content, use descriptive links, and label content logically so that screen readers can easily navigate it
- Make content easy to understand by using short sentences, commonly-used words, and features that work in a predictable way
- Create content that can be accessed by older technology and future technology
Accessibility is great for profitability
Many of the WCAG 2.1 design recommendations are easily achieved by designers and web developers and, because they make content more accessible for everyone, designing to these principles has the added benefits of:
- improving the shopping experience for all customers
- reducing bounce rates
- and improving SEO for higher search rankings.
In fact Tesco.com built its online shopping website in partnership with RNIB to ensure the grocery service was accessible to everyone. This decision helped online sales to skyrocket from £52m to £234m in one year! There is now a Google product called Lighthouse which scores sites for accessibility and in 2021 fashion retailer H&M took the top spot for the most accessible website for people with visual impairments.
Designing for accessibility is not only easy to achieve at the design stage of all websites, creating accessible websites and apps are a great way for companies to welcome another 20% of the population to their brand.
While we’re talking web accessibility, we’re always available for a chat about web design, accessible content and all things marketing-related… just email or pick up the phone.