Why Accessibility Should Be a Top Priority for All Web Designers
We will break down the core components of web accessibility and a few reasons why it should be a top priority for all web designers
Know why accessibility should be a top priority for all web designers. According to recent studies, over 57 million Americans, almost one in five people in the US, live with some form of disability. This is a huge market that website designers cannot afford to ignore. There are many ways how you can fine-tune your website’s accessibility, for example by using UX research tools. In this article, we will break down the core components of web accessibility and a few reasons why it should be a top priority when designing and maintaining your website.
Understanding web accessibility
Web accessibility refers to comprehensive practices for making websites accessible to people with disabilities. And this includes those who are blind or have low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, and limited mobility. It also encompasses those with learning difficulties and cognitive impairments. Some of the main areas that web designers need to focus on when it comes to accessibility include:
- Content – The text, images, videos, and other forms of media on your website must be accessible to those with disabilities. This means all content must be tagged appropriately and labeled and provide alternative text for images.
- Navigation – The users must be able to navigate your website easily. Even if they use assistive technologies such as screen readers. This means having a well-organized structure with clear and consistent links.
- Functionality – All website features must be accessible to those with disabilities, including forms, search functions, and maps. This means ensuring that we can use these features with assistive technologies such as screen readers and keyboard-only navigation.
WCAG 2.1 is a set of guidelines that help website designers create accessible websites. These guidelines were created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international organization that sets standards for the web. WCAG 2.1 provides specific recommendations for making your website more accessible for those with disabilities. While it is not a law, it widely accept as the gold standard for web accessibility.
Many governments and organizations have adopted it as their official accessibility standard. You can check how your website performs against these standards for free by using the trusted accessScan accessibility scanner. This online diagnostic tool runs a full audit of your website in a matter of minutes.
Simply enter your domain, and you will receive a detailed. And downloadable audit that includes elaborate explanations and a score for each test.
With that said, let’s take a look at some reasons why you need to make web accessibility a top priority in the first place.
It improves the overall user experience
Accessibility is not just about making websites usable for people with disabilities. Instead, it makes websites more user-friendly for all users. For example, a more accessible website can help those using a mobile phone or tablet, people using different browsers or operating systems, and people who may be in noisy environments.
Accessibility a top priority for all web designers: Mitigate the chance of costly lawsuits
So, if your website is not accessible to those with disabilities, you could open yourself up to a lawsuit. And in the United States, there have been a number of high-profile lawsuits against companies with inaccessible websites, and many of these cases have resulted in large settlements.
For example, in 2017, online grocery store Peapod agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit that claimed their website was not accessible to people with visual disabilities. In the same year, the online food delivery company Domino’s was sued for allegedly violating block access to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) websites and apps. The lawsuit, filed by the advocacy group Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), alleged that Domino’s had not taken steps to ensure that its website and app were usable by blind and visually impaired customers. And there have also been a number of lawsuits in Canada over the past few years. And some companies order to pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
That being said, anyone can bring a lawsuit upon any company at any time. But if your website is up-to-date with accessibility guidelines, you stand a much better chance on defense.
Increased audience reach
Another reason that accessibility should be a top priority for all web designers is that making your website accessible can also help you reach a larger audience. As mentioned, around one in five adults in the United States has a disability, meaning that millions of potential customers or clients may struggle to interact with your online brand if your website is not accessible. And also, this could lead you to miss out on a large portion of your target audience.
And if you sell products or services through your website, opening up your website to those with disabilities could increase revenue-generating opportunities. Especially since the collective spending power of people with disabilities in the US is estimated to be around $490 billion.
Accessibility a top priority for all web designers: Improved SEO performance
One of the benefits of making your website accessible is that it can help improve your SEO performance. Moreover, this is because accessibility is one of the factors that Google takes into account when ranking websites. Therefore, if your website meets WCAG 2.1 standards, and will reward you with a higher ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). This means that you will get more traffic to your website from people looking for information online. A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that making your website accessible could result in a 20% increase in organic traffic.