4 Reasons to Focus on Accessibility when Designing a Website

The internet has become so integrated into our everyday lives, and we can hardly function without it. We use it to connect to others, purchase goods and services, learn new information, and for entertainment. Unfortunately, this can’t be said for everybody. 

People’s experiences with the World Wide Web aren’t equal. For those with physical disabilities, accessing websites isn’t always easy. The same can be said for those who are not tech-savvy and people with limited internet speed. But those limitations don’t mean that they should be unable to have the same online experiences everyone else enjoys.

That’s where web accessibility comes in. Web accessibility means ensuring that people of all ability levels and various methods of access are able to comprehend, interact, and enjoy using a website. With an accessible website, no one feels left out. Of course, there are other reasons why businesses need to focus on accessibility when designing their website. Below are a few of the most important ones.

1. Provide a better user experience to everyone

Accessibility design and user experience go hand-in-hand. Both make your website accessible and benefit people with disabilities and/or technical limitations. It allows them to interact with your website with ease. They’re able to comprehend and navigate your content and, more importantly, accomplish their goals—whether it’s to get information, connect with someone, or purchase goods and/or services. According to the CDC, there are 61 million adults in the U.S. who live with some type of disability. Just imagine how many people you are providing access to your website!

An accessible website benefits other people as well. When you make your interface simple and intuitive to use, it reduces the cognitive load—the effort it takes to reason and think. Simply put, it makes the website easy to use. This benefits not only those with mental or cognitive disabilities but everyone else as well. The easier a website is to use, the faster people are able to accomplish the task that they set out to do which results in a positive user experience.

Another good example of this is closed captions. People with hearing disabilities are able to watch videos and avoid missing the information they provide. Those who wish to watch videos in a noisy environment or just simply want to watch videos on mute also appreciate this feature. In fact, according to surveys conducted by different companies, 85% of their Facebook videos are watched without sound

When people of varying ability levels are able to perceive and navigate your website with ease, their positive experience will ensure that they keep coming back. They also won’t hesitate to recommend your website to others. 

2. Decrease maintenance costs

According to a case study conducted by the University of Twente, a website that has an accessible design was not only easier for people to use, it was also able to reduce website maintenance costs by 66%. 

3. Avoid lawsuits

Creating an accessible website is not just the moral thing to do. As you can see from the examples above, it also helps improve a business’ bottomline. But there’s another equally important reason why your company needs to focus on accessibility—it’s the law. 

Everyone has a right to digital access. Web accessibility laws require businesses to make sure that their websites and digital products are usable by everyone, regardless of their ability level. What this means is that companies who disregard these laws are vulnerable to lawsuits. In the U.S., 2,352 web accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2021 alone. This is a 14.3% increase from the number of filings the previous year. It’s not just the little companies that have been litigated. A number of big brands have been sued as well.

Netflix was sued by the National Association of the Deaf in 2012 because the company didn’t provide adequate closed captioning on its content. Winn-Dixie was sued by a Florida resident five years later because its website was not compatible with screen reader software preventing visually impaired individuals from using the website. In 2017, three other big companies were under the gun—Blue Apron, Nike, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. In 2018, the world’s top e-commerce company, Amazon, was sued because their website was incompatible with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays.

If you want to avoid being accused of discrimination and fighting a lawsuit in court, designing an accessible website is a must. Conducting regular accessibility audits will also help to ensure that you remain compliant with the law.

4. Get higher conversion rates

People with disabilities make up the largest minority in the world. In the U.S., one in every four adults lives with a disability. It’s the same worldwide—one in every four people. That’s a huge segment of the population that you can reach just by ensuring that your website’s content is accessible. Not only will these customers start preferring you over rival companies, but they will also recommend your brand to others.

Web accessibility can also make digital products easy to use, and people like it when websites are easy to use. They are able to quickly achieve their purpose, whether it’s to buy a last-minute present for a loved one or to get information on a topic they’re interested in. Simply put, an accessible website can easily convert more visitors into loyal customers than any other aesthetically designed one. 

Conclusion

The benefits of designing an accessible website far outweigh the costs. Not only will it keep your business compliant with the law, but it can also help your business increase your customer base, promote customer loyalty, and boost your profits. More importantly, you help ensure that everyone is afforded digital access to the online world most of us live in.

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