Accessibility helps individuals with motor, cognitive, visual or speech impairments to improve their digital experience. Building a website with content that can be navigated, accessed and enjoyed by the 1 in 5 people in the UK who require accessibility features improves revenue, customer retention, and brand loyalty, as users feel acknowledged and catered for.
But even with legal guidelines and hundreds of tools to help businesses build accessible websites, the myth that condones accessible features for being difficult and time-consuming still reigns supreme.
The core problem is accessible features aren't viewed as website pillars, instead, they are perceived as add-ons. If your platform does the same then you are missing out on the £11.5 billion up for grabs by users requiring accessible features.
Here are 3 ways in which you can update your site to cater to an accessible audience.
1) Use icons to show mistakes - Forms and calls to action are two of the main lead generating functions on your website. Ensuring that all users can click, edit and complete forms and CTA's should be a top priority but more often than not, websites fail to add on accessible features that aid users with specifically visual impairments
Focusing on forms alone, using only colour to highlight any issues means users with colour deficiency cannot identify any errors, and the form will most likely be abandoned.
If your forms look something like this then consider adding in alert icons to highlight any issues. The last thing you want is users turning away from your site on the last stages of purchase just because of a lack of icons.
2) Alt text - Alt text has many uses. It improves SEO and helps identify links that have been added to pictures. But what many people forget is the base-line functional use of alt-text for those visitors with screen readers. Alt-text aids a customer's journey as they travel through your site using a screen reader. Ensuring you don't have redundant alt-text, and instead including descriptive or instructional text will be more compatible with screen readers. Boohoo have unfortunately fallen short here as all their pictures on their drop-down menus have the alt-text of banner 3.
3) Keyboard navigation - One of the most underrated accessibility features is keyboard navigation. Users with sight and motor disabilities are the biggest users of this feature and they should be catered for. A good way to test your site's navigation is by only using your keyboard to travel through each section and complete conversions.
According to webaim: "Complex menus, sliders, dialogues, tab panels, etc. must all be built to support keyboard accessibility. This means the following must occur:
- The interaction is presented in an intuitive and predictable way
- The interaction uses standardized keystrokes."
Website accessibility shouldn't be backlogged and added onto your site once it has been constructed. Instead, introducing accessible features in your development process will heighten conversion rates and retention, as users easily navigate through your site.
Not only that but SEO improves, and costly lawsuits are avoided as your site doesn't breach the WCAG 2.0 legal guidelines. Whether you're in e-commerce, finance or travel, users with accessibility needs will always be on your site and failing to cater to their needs will result in a poor UX experience, and lower conversion rates.