The internet is such a powerful tool that it’s nearly impossible to imagine life without it. It has the potential of increasing the quality of life for just about everyone on the planet. However, years ago, the opportunities provided by the internet might not be available to everyone, especially those who live with disabilities such as visual, physical, and linguistic challenges.
These disabilities create barriers that lead experts to find solutions for these challenges. The answer? Web Accessibility.
What Is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility is the term used to describe the idea of making websites more readable and understandable for people who have disabilities. But it doesn’t mean that it only benefits people with such conditions. Web accessibility also means making websites more usable for all types of users such as older adults, younger people, those with slower internet connections, people who speak other languages, and those who prefer to use mobile devices when surfing the net. To discover how well your website or mobile app provides access to everyone, including those with disabilities, a website accessibility audit is necessary.
But what does it mean for businesses or website owners?
Advantages Of Web Accessibility
Website owners or developers prioritizing web accessibility can enjoy several benefits. These include:
1. Reach Wider Audience
By prioritizing web accessibility, you’re making your website user-friendly to all users. Having a user-friendly website means allowing more people to access your site and use it, which is beneficial for business owners or marketers who want their sites to be visible to as many people as possible.
- People Without Disabilities
Even though web accessibility can be more beneficial for those who have disabilities, it can also reach the widest audience—people without disabilities.
Having an accessible website for all allows people to view your site on whatever device they’re using. Even if mobile phones are the primary device people use to access the internet nowadays, some prefer using desktops and laptops to search for information. Having an accessible website for any device may widen your audience a little bit more.
- People With Disabilities
Web accessibility allows website owners to reach a broader audience, especially those with disabilities such as visual, physical, and linguistic difficulties.
Older adults and people with visual disabilities experience difficulty when viewing small font sizes and high contrast colors. This problem can be a primary reason for them to leave your site and look for information elsewhere. By making your site accessible, you’re allowing users to enlarge their text size and choose the background color that’ll make it easier for them.
Some disabilities affect the movement of hands and fingers. It can prevent some people from using a mouse or clicking the links on your site that are often used to navigate to other pages. If you’re using an image map to provide navigation, you’re not providing a valuable experience for these users. By making your site accessible and linking each area of your site with a text-based link, you’re also making sure all users can easily use your website.
People with a linguistic disability may find it challenging to understand the text. Some may misinterpret words or the use of long compound words may create a challenge for them. Making your site accessible with speech-to-text and text-to-speech features may help those who want to listen to the content rather than read it. You may also allow users to choose the language so they can understand it better.
Websites accessible to these people will allow them to understand certain words, phrases, and concepts better. These people can be part of your audience since they also use the internet one way or another. Thus, prioritizing web accessibility can help your business or website reach a wider audience.
2. Build A Good Brand Reputation
Prioritizing web accessibility shows people that your business or website is concerned about their needs and concerns. It shows them you value inclusivity and equal opportunities for everyone, including those with disabilities.
Thus, web accessibility can help build a good brand reputation for your company, especially when attracting more customers. It can also increase loyalty from existing clients and users. People nowadays tend to patronize brands that sell good products and services and provide a certain level of equality and inclusivity. So, if you’re also providing that for your customers, they’ll be more likely to patronize your business.
3. Improve Search Engine Ranking
There are multiple advantages of SEO. Search engines consider web accessibility when ranking sites. A website with highly accessible content ranks higher than sites with inaccessible content.
- Title Tags
An accessible website has page title tags that are appropriate and clearly describes the page’s content, which helps users understand the page’s purpose without even looking at the content. Thus, these tags will improve your site’s SEO ranking.
Accessible websites use lists created with bulleted or numbered items to convey the page’s content quickly. If your website requires bulleted or numbered lists for its content, it’ll be easier for users to scan the page and quickly understand what each sub-topic contains. Using lists will improve your website’s ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs) and the user experience for people who rely on scanning instead of reading everything from beginning to end.
Headings help web accessibility by allowing users to understand the page’s structure. It also helps search engine bots better determine what each section contains to improve your site’s SEO ranking.
Descriptive links promote a website’s accessibility by using text that clearly describes the page your hyperlink will direct users to. For example, instead of ‘Click here,’ you can use ‘Learn more about our services’ as the link text. This text allows search engines to understand your site’s content better and improve its SEO ranking.
Thus, prioritizing web accessibility will help your website rank higher in search engine results and improve the user experience.
4. Future-Proof Your Site Against Non-Compliance
Although there’s no particular regulation that penalizes private website owners for not prioritizing web accessibility, you might still need to future-proof your site against possible lawsuits or complaints. Some countries have or are in the process of implementing laws that require websites to comply with specific accessibility standards.
5. Increased Customer Satisfaction
When people can access your site regardless of their disabilities or device, they’re more likely to be satisfied with the overall experience. A website that’s accessible gives them high chances of feeling valued as customers and encouraged to buy from you again. Repeat customers are what most businesses aim for as customer retention is as necessary as acquiring new ones.
6. Accessible Websites Use Less Bandwidth
Web accessibility helps save up on bandwidth, which can help you cut costs and acquire more customers with limited resources. Accessible websites require less bandwidth because they use fewer images and extraneous media files to communicate their message. It also helps websites to load fast, which is a great way to improve the user experience.
7. Better Search Rankings For Mobile Searches
The search engines’ shift in ranking web pages for mobile users is one of the most prominent trends in website development today. This trend places more weight on a site’s mobile friendliness than its responsiveness or ability to be viewed from a mobile device. When prioritizing web accessibility, you enhance your site’s mobile friendliness, which helps improve its search ranking status on search engines.
8. Improve Online Customer Support
Customer support is one of the most important aspects of running a business that uses the web to sell its products and services. Having accessible website pages for different customer support queries allows people to easily view FAQs, product descriptions, or any other type of information that helps them answer their concerns immediately.
Having an accessible website makes it easier for you to support your customers by providing accessible answers to their most common concerns without requiring them to visit your physical location, which will also save you money. For instance, online contact forms allow visitors to contact you through their preferred communication mode directly (e.g., email or chat) and provide an accurate description of their concerns. Customers are also more likely to provide positive feedback or recommend your products or services to others if they have a good customer service experience.
9. Increase Sales Conversions
No matter how good your product or service is, your business will not make any money if website visitors don’t finish the buying process. Attracting and converting buyers is extremely important to running a successful online business. An accessible website increases the chances of users completing their purchases. Because it allows them to conveniently find what they’re looking for, they can check out and pay without too much effort or confusion.
In the competitive market of online businesses, having a good product or service alone isn’t enough to attract potential customers or increase sales. Online businesses need to have an accessible website to give their users the best web experience.
Prioritizing web accessibility is a good investment for any business that aims to increase their sales conversions, improve their SEO rankings, and customer satisfaction. It also helps companies save money in the long run because they can use less bandwidth and reduce the cost of online customer support.