A Holistic Accessibility Strategy to Boost Marketing Performance
When people think about how to transform their marketing performance, they typically jump to “boost my SEO,” “invest in PPC,” or other common buzzword phrases thrown around the digital marketing industry.
In these discussions, people rarely think about the accessibility of their website. Sure, they may consider whether their website is navigable and if their link is easily found on the internet, but they don’t think about what their website looks like through the eyes of a user with a disability. We tend to assume that everyone else sees the world the same way we do, but that is a poor assumption to make that can cost your business money – both in lost revenue and in potential legal costs.
To help those trying to build their online brand, we are going to break down why a holistic accessibility strategy is necessary for the current marketplace and how you can increase the accessibility of your website.
Why Do I Need a Holistic Accessibility Strategy?
There are a few common feelings toward accessibility strategies that can actually put your business at a disadvantage. For example, many assume that accessibility measures do not impact them because they do not suffer from a disability. However, many accessibility measures make things easier for everyone, such as elevators and escalators. Using consistent color schemes with contrasting neutrals and having clear header structures can act as your website’s version of providing an elevator for users: they help everyone, even when designed for a few.
Additionally, designing your website with accessibility in mind can lead to an overall smoother user experience and help improve customer conversions. Making sure a user’s experience is accessible from the beginning to end of their customer journey. Let’s use the example of a florist that has an online shop. If the florist has descriptions on their website of what colors their bouquets are for users who are color blind, their site would be much more accessible for users trying to buy flowers for a loved one, but if a colorblind customer can’t see the fields of the payment processing form, that florist might lose the sale and the consumer might go purchase flowers elsewhere.
Another common misconception is that people with disabilities aren’t their target market, so they don’t need to be accommodated. However, $645 billion worth of disposable income is spent by users with disabilities. Additionally, companies with accessible websites buy products and services from all over the web. To serve as many customers as possible, you need to serve all potential customers including those with disabilities.
While these points may be obvious to some, many that recognize the benefits of accessibility still don’t want to invest in an accessible website. Having an accessible website does take some effort, but the earlier you make the adjustment, the more time and money you are going to save. Additionally, like most investments in infrastructure, the potential benefits of making an accessible website tend to outweigh the costs over time.
How to Increase Accessibility
There are several measures you can take to increase the accessibility of your website. Text alternatives such as video, audio, alt text, and anchor text can help diversify the options for users with and without disabilities. Anchor text is the text that appears highlighted in hypertext that can be clicked to open a related web page, such as citations or contact pages. By contrast, alt text acts as the “why” of an image and is read aloud to those using screen reader software.
Speaking of alt text, you can implement unique element IDs when people are looking at the names on images. Alt text for a photo of a lawyer that reads “lawyer1” can be confusing for people downloading images or using screen reader software. Instead, a more direct approach can help people understand what the image is depicting. A great example of this would be “headshot-andy” so people know which lawyer is in the photo.
You can also make sure the colors and letters you use are presented in a way that is still understandable by people with colorblindness or dyslexia. There are tools you can use to make sure your color scheme doesn’t blend together when viewed by users with different kinds of visual impairments such as colorblindness. These are usually minor tweaks for text sizes with a 4.5:1 ratio.
Additionally, including proper heading hierarchies can help users follow along with the structure of your website. While this may not appear to be an accessibility measure, using proper heading structure can help those with low attention spans or reading-related disabilities follow along with the content of your website in a much more efficient manner.
The Importance of an Accessible Website
All these accessibility adjustments toggle different needs, but just because you have all the above does not mean that your website is fully accessible. In fact, having a website that is not accessible to those with disabilities may get you into legal trouble. We strongly suggest you maintain compliance as any site that does not follow these guidelines could be vulnerable to legal action. You may need to make important fixes to your website to ensure that it is truly accessible to people across the ability spectrum. One great tool to help with this is the WAVE analyzer which helps send warnings and alerts identifying issues regarding the accessibility of your website.