Although most people have access to the web, not all websites are accessible to people with disabilities. According to the CDC, almost one-in-five American adults have trouble with their hearing, and one-in-ten adults have vision problems. If you are not creating an accessible website for this demographic, then you are losing out on millions of customers.
1 in 4 Americans Have a Disability
Over 58 million Americans live with some form of disability. If you are not creating an accessible website for them, then you are robbing them of the experience you offer. Blind customers will usually have special technology built into their computers, that helps them access web content. To be compatible with this technology, your website has to be created with the right settings in mind. These aren't complicated to implement, so why wouldn’t you create an accessible website for these millions of potential customers?
Grow Your SEO
One of the greatest benefits of having an accessible website is your SEO. Search engines reward websites for being ADA compliant. One of the ways search engines identify your website as ADA friendly is through your image descriptions. If your descriptions and alt tags are accurate, search engines will increase your SEO, and people with visual disabilities will be able to “hear” your pictures.
Grow Your Base
There are hundreds of thousands of eCommerce websites around the world. If you don’t provide an accessible website, your competitor will. By offering a design that is ADA friendly, you can grow your customer base. Not only will people with disabilities follow your work, but other customers will be proud of your company, and will continue to shop with you.
When you accurately describe your products, you will see a reduction in your returns, especially from customers with visual impairments. Color blindness can create great confusion, especially when shopping online. By offering clear and concise descriptions of your products beyond just pictures, customers will be able to accurately determine if they want your product.
You May Be Legally Required
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a comprehensive civil rights law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. There is no specific law that states how handicap accessible your website needs to be, but the DoJ is currently working on clarifying the law’s jurisdiction on the web. Some high profile eCommerce companies like Target, Southwest, and Expedia have all faced lawsuits over ADA standards online. Even if there is no specific legal requirement yet, by creating an accessible website now, you can prevent any litigation in the future.
In this digital age, customers are more concerned with their overall experience, rather than your prices. By having an accessible website, you can create an extremely positive experience for disabled customers. Since 1 in 4 Americans have a disability, almost every person knows someone or is affected by a disability. When people have that positive experience, they will share it with their friends. Word of mouth will spread, and not only will you gain more customers, but you will gain loyal followers.
Accessible Features are Easy to Add
There is no reason to not have an accessible website. It is extremely easy to add accessible features to your website. For colorblind customers, don’t use color as the only visual means of conveying information. Instead, use color to highlight what is already visible. Furthermore, make sure there is a sufficient contrast between text and the background. This will help people with poor vision. Also, don’t make people hover to find items on your website. Instead, clearly label every menu item and the search bar.
These are just basic examples on how to make your website more accessible. There are hundreds of programs across the web that can help your website become completely accessible.
Create a Positive User Experience
Your website isn’t about you; it’s about your visitor. Adhering to ADA standards will provide all of your customers with a positive experience. Having an accessible website will not affect your non-disabled customers. However, it will mean a world of difference to those with disabilities. You can even test the user experience yourself to ensure it is living up to standards. Think about how easy your text is to read, test how your site sounds when it reads to you, and test if your colors have enough contrast.
Accessibility features are not obtrusive. Instead, they are just more tools in your arsenal. They help your website gain more visitors, which is extremely important for every eCommerce business model. They won’t mess with your overall design, so you can still stay true to your company’s theme.
Set An Ethical Standard
More than anything else, having an accessible website is an ethical standard your company should meet. People with disabilities deserve to have the same opportunities as every other customer. By not designing an accessible website, you are robbing potential customers of your products and services. If you want to gain customers, have an ethical company, and win loyalty, the best practice is designing your website for accessibility.