What does Web accessibility mean? Just read this blog post, which uncovers Why is accessibility important for a website and helpful tips to make your website more accessible.
Browsing a website seems like an easy, everyday action for most people. But for those with some type of disability, it can be a challenge. People dealing with visual impairments, hearing loss, or learning disabilities interact with websites (and the Internet, as a whole) differently than the rest of the world.
It’s normal to see Braille used on public signs or in buildings. It’s also normal to see wheelchair ramps or automatic doors. So why isn’t it more normal to see features that promote accessibility on websites?
With 81% of Americans using the Internet each day and 26% of adults in the U.S. having some type of disability, it’s impossible to ignore the overlap. Websites that have accessibility features provide an equal opportunity to all Internet users, and they will reach a wider audience. From a business standpoint, having a website with a focus on accessibility can help you to stay ahead of your competitors who haven’t yet invested in accessibility features.
These features can help you to reach a new audience, but it’s more than just a marketing technique. With so many Americans living with some type of disability, accessibility in all aspects of your business should become a staple of your brand, in order to improve user experience.
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Why is Web Accessibility So Important?
You want as many people as possible to be able to browse your website, right? That’s the simple answer as to why web accessibility is so important. The more detailed answer has to do with knowing your audience.
While it’s next to impossible to design a site that can cater to all disabilities, focusing on making it easy to use for those with sight, hearing, and mobility impairments can cover quite a few people who want to know more about your business. Think about how you target an audience when you’re running a campaign. Any member of that audience wants to feel understood. Those with impairments want to feel understood whenever they go to your website, too. They are a constant underlying target audience.
When those with disabilities do feel heard and understood by your site (and your business), they are more likely to be loyal. Loyalty is built on deepening your relationship with your customers. They will know that you care about all audiences, not just those without any impairments. As of 2018, less than 10% of all websites had accessibility features to improve upon user experience.
So imagine how much more appreciative a user will be when they can easily browse your site thanks to the changes you have made.
If your business’ site can’t be viewed or navigated by everyone, not only are you missing out on a large audience, but you’re making a statement about what’s important. Because so many people gain their first impression of a business online, your website sets the tone for who you are and what customers can expect.
Why Some Accessibility Options Need Improvement
Even though such a small number of websites have accessibility features, there are a few resources that have potential. But most web designers and programmers are still creating these features without the lens of web accessibility in mind.
For example, chatbots have become increasingly popular on websites over the last few years. They are a great resource for asking questions, navigating a site, and getting information quickly. But making them user-friendly hasn’t always been easy. As AI continues to advance, that will undoubtedly change. Chatbots in the future may be able to handle voice recognition when answering questions. If you want to add a chatbox to your website now, try to avoid some of these common mistakes:
- Creating a bot without character
- Letting the user completely control the conversation
- Over-complicating your bot’s language
- Instant replies
Having a chatbot on your website can be useful, and it’s a great tool to have now. But, keep looking forward if you implement this, or any other feature onto your site. Consider how it could be made better by adding accessibility features that everyone can use and enjoy.
Most web designers know the importance of layout and how easy it is for a user to navigate a website. But this is another area that could use improvement for users with impairments. Not only does a site need to be easy to navigate, everything needs to be easy to see. Don’t sacrifice web accessibility for style, even if you think that smaller, more compact content looks better. In doing so, you’re pushing aside those with vision impairment or mobility problems that might have a hard time clicking on small buttons or menus.
How to Make Your Website Inclusive for Everyone
Now that you understand the importance of website accessibility, what can you do to make improvements?
In addition to looking into all of the current options listed above, there are additional measures you can take to make viewing your website easier and more of a positive experience for everyone. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be difficult to make your site more inclusive. Some simple changes you can make right away include:
- Using alt tags with every image for the vision impaired.
- Creating subtitles/transcripts for videos.
- Putting periods in abbreviations for those who use screen readers.
- Learning about color control, and how colorblind individuals see.
- Make clickable buttons and links larger for those with vision or mobility issues.
If you really want to go the extra mile, you can include an accessibility guide on your website. This is a specific section of your site that will show users all the ways you have made things easier to access for everyone. A single page can serve as an accessibility site map, and show the visitors of your site that everyone is a priority when it comes to your business and brand.
As you can see, most of the changes required to make your website inclusive for those with disabilities or handicaps are “quick fixes” and things that can be implemented right away. By making these changes and improving upon accessibility options that are already available, you can reform your brand as inclusive to everyone, and gain a larger loyal audience, as a result.