As an eCommerce professional, it’s essential to understand the importance of accessibility in the industry. It refers to how well individuals with disabilities can reach and use your website. Making your eCommerce website accessible means everyone, regardless of their abilities, can navigate, understand, and interact with your site easily.
In a brick-and-mortar store, you might think of accessibility elements like a wheelchair-accessible entrance or offering services to meet the needs of your diverse customers. Accessibility is not only a legal requirement but also a moral obligation to ensure everyone has equal access to your products and services.
Recent years have seen a growing emphasis on website accessibility. Various countries have passed laws and policies to ensure websites are accessible to all users. In the United States, for example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to provide equal access to their services and products for people with disabilities. Then, in 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a rule stating that websites must be accessible to people with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, or have physical disabilities.
In addition to meeting legal requirements, making your website accessible brings many benefits to your business: Your site becomes easier to navigate, provides a better user experience, and can grow your customer base. Additionally, an accessible website can increase website traffic and even enhances search engine optimization (SEO).
Whether you run a small business or a large corporation, you must ensure your company’s website is accessible to all visitors. To help you meet the legal definition, we’ve broken down eight vital accessibility features for your website. We’ll explore how these features can benefit your customers and your business and provide step-by-step instructions on how to implement them.
One of the most important aspects of website accessibility is ensuring your website’s text is easy to read and understand. That involves making the text size and color contrast suitable for all users, including those with visual impairments. This is an important detail because:
Another important textual accessibility feature is text-to-speech software, which reads website content aloud to visitors. To implement this feature, you can add a plugin to your website that gives users the option to hear the content. Text-to-speech software is beneficial both for users with visual impairments and those who prefer to listen to content instead of reading it.
It’s also critical that the language on your website is clear and easy to understand. Avoid using technical jargon or complicated verbiage that may be difficult for some users to comprehend. You should also provide simple instructions on how to use your website’s features so people can navigate the site easily.
Screen reader compatibility is another way to increase site accessibility for the visually impaired. Similar to text-to-speech, screen readers are software programs that read website content out loud.
To make your website screen reader-friendly:
Navigation is a core characteristic of any website. As such, yours must be clear and easy to use in general but particularly for users with disabilities.
In addition to screen reader compatibility, you can improve site navigation accessibility by:
We discussed the importance of alt text in images for users who are blind or visually impaired. However, there are other visual accessibility features you can incorporate to achieve a more inclusive site experience:
This category of features is essential for users with cognitive disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or autism. These users may have difficulty with reading comprehension, memory, or processing information, which can make it challenging to navigate and use a website. To lower these barriers, you can:
By making your website accessible to all users, you can increase your consumer base and improve your brand reputation. Not to mention, it’s simply the right thing to do.
In terms of technical aspects, accessibility significantly improves SEO. Search engines like Google prioritize websites that are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. As such, implementing accessibility features such as alt text for images and closed captions for videos boosts your website’s search engine rankings, which can ultimately lead to more traffic and conversions for your website.
An accessible website is also necessary to comply with legal requirements and prevent potential lawsuits. Failure to abide by accessibility laws can result in legal action against your business, costly lawsuits, and negative publicity. By prioritizing accessibility in your website design, you can mitigate these risks and ensure that your business is complying with legal requirements.
Finally, it enriches the overall user experience for every visitor, not just those with disabilities. Features like clear navigation and easy-to-read text create a more user-friendly website that’s simpler to use. This can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, resulting in higher conversions and revenue for your business.
Ensuring your eCommerce website is accessible to all users is both a legal requirement and a moral obligation. You can transform your website into an inclusive experience using textual, navigational, visual, and cognitive accessibility features.
Incorporating these elements provides a smoother experience for all visitors, which serves to expand your customer base and strengthen your site’s SEO. Additionally, you’ll prevent potential lawsuits by complying with legal requirements.
Accessibility is an ongoing process, and you should regularly evaluate your website’s to make sure it meets the needs of all users. By prioritizing accessibility in your website design, you’ll create a more inclusive online environment and set a positive example for others in your industry — while reaping the rewards of greater consumer loyalty.