Implementing web accessibility practices on your website ensures that people with disabilities can use it optimally and have a good experience. Let’s look at how accessibility for websites impacts marketing and how you can make your website more accessible.
Accessibility for websites ensures that no barriers are preventing visitors from accessing your site and its content regardless of their disabilities. The disabilities could be permanent, temporary, or situational and include visual, auditory, motor, sensory, and cognitive impairments that could prevent people with disabilities from using your site. Let’s understand more about web accessibility and what you can do about it.
Impact of Web Accessibility on Marketing
In many countries, web accessibility, to make information equally accessible to everyone, is a legal requirement. So, following web accessibility standards not only keeps you out of legal hot waters, it also gives all users a fair chance of navigating your site. This can impact your marketing activities in the following ways:
1. Connect With a Wider Audience Base
57 million people in the US alone have a disabilityOpens a new window , i.e., you may not be able to reach out to 20% of the US population properly if your website has accessibility issues.
A 2016 report by Click-Away PoundOpens a new window that surveyed people in the UK found out that 71% of impaired customers will leave a website if it is difficult to access. The same customers had the spending power of 11.75 billion GBP, which constituted 10% of the online spend in the UK.
Therefore, it is apparent that making your website accessible for everyone will allow you to tap into the market, you’ve probably been missing out on.
2. Reap SEO Benefits
Designing your website according to the web accessibility standards require you to organize content in a hierarchy using heading tags. You also need to design clear navigation, provide alt text for images, add transcripts/closed captions for video and audio content, and write descriptive anchor texts for hyperlinks.
You’ll notice that major search engines have also recommended these guidelines to improve the on-page aspect of SEO. Therefore, implementing these practices on your website will help you gain SEO benefits as well.
3. Improve User Experience (UX)
The purpose of UX design is to improve product usability. It requires you to understand user behavior, their motivations, and abilities to design the product accordingly.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG)Opens a new window has proposed four principles, viz., perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust to make websites more accessible. These principles, along with their respective guidelines, coincide with UX best practices for sites such as:
- Designing responsive websites
- Allowing users to access all websites features from the keyboard
- Making website content easily readable
- Choosing appropriate color combinations considering color blindness
- Making web forms easily accessible
4. Improve PR Value
People want to associate with brands that share common values and belief systems as theirs. Making the website accessible for everyone sends out an empathetic message to users. The Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BoIA) recommends organizations to publish an accessibility statement on their websites to communicate their accessibility policies.
- Promote inclusivity
- Specify the accessibility standards used
- Let users know if certain parts of the website are not accessible and offer workarounds
- Define accessibility accomplishments
5 Tips to Design Your Website for Accessibility
Web accessibility is primarily a design and programming undertaking. However, as a marketer, you can implement the following five accessibility practices in your content:
1. Use Headings to Define Hierarchy
Heading tags provide a structure for your content and succinctly describe what the content is about. According to the accessibility guidelines by WordPressOpens a new window , the H1 (heading 1) tag should be reserved for the page/post title, followed by H2, H3, H4, and so on for subsequent sections. WordPress also recommends you choose heading levels sequentially and not skip any levels, as this helps search engines and screen readers (software that enables visually impaired people to use a computer) understand the content structure.
2. Provide Alternative Text for Images
Alt text helps screen readers understand the image. While adding images, make sure to provide a descriptive alt text for images that explains what the image is about. This practice is particularly helpful if the image is an infographic or contains stats or similar important information.
If an image is used as an embellishment, keep the alt text blank, whereas if the image redirects to a link, provide the URL for the alt text.
3. Write Descriptive Anchor Texts
One of the biggest SEO faux pas is to use vague anchor texts such as click here, know more, download, or learn more. Screen readers can’t decipher the context behind such anchor texts. And since some applications present the anchor texts as a list, users won’t be able to understand the context behind them.
When your anchor text explains what the link is about, it not only helps assistive software applications but also makes the text more scannable.
4. Make Web Forms Accessible
Here are three tips you can implement to make your web forms accessible while designing them:
- Write clear field labels and an example for each placeholder. A placeholder is a temporary text in the form field. For instance, for the full name field, a placeholder such as John Doe can help users know the format to be followed
- Group similar form fields under a category such as personal information, work information, card details, and so on
- Validate your forms for correct data and provide clear success and error messages for valid or invalid inputs respectively
5. Use Tables to Display Data
When you use tables for layout purposes, screen readers may present data in a format that can be easily misinterpreted. Therefore, use tables only to show tabular information such as expenses, bank statements, etc.
You can also break down heavy content into tables for easier understanding and visual appeal. For example, when explaining and comparing two or more principles, applications, or ideologies, using a table to demonstrate pros and cons can make a significant difference on readability.
Prioritizing Accessibility for Websites
Web accessibility can be expensive and time-consuming considering the changes you may have to introduce on your site. Still, it’s well worth the investment considering its far-reaching impact.
To learn more about web accessibility, we recommend you to read the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)Opens a new window and a Search Engine Journal resourceOpens a new window that contains a list of accessibility testing tools, accessibility guides, courses, and other resources.