There are 42.5 million Americans with disabilities, and 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the internet daily (Pew Research Center). That’s a large demographic that may not be able to use your website if it is not accessible. Think about when you are on a website. If it’s slow, has errors, and other problems that keep you from using it seamlessly, you’ll leave. It works the same way with web accessibility. A poorly built and non-accessible website will cast your business in a negative light. It can hinder the customer experience and impact online reputation. Not to mention the legal component.
The Purpose of The Web
The Internet was designed for everyone — regardless of capability, circumstance, or location. Its primary goal? To offer information and online experiences with no boundaries. Inclusivity isn’t just a trending word; it’s part of the foundation the internet was built on. Most of us access and navigate websites effortlessly. But, imagine facing barriers that restrict your interactions. It’s a reality for millions with disabilities. That’s where web accessibility comes in and serves as the link to ensure that all users have equal opportunity to access information online.
What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility ensures that everyone can access, understand, and navigate your website with ease. This means making sure your website is usable for people with visual impairments, hearing challenges, motor disabilities, cognitive disorders, and other diverse abilities.
Web accessibility can encompass a range of adjustments including:
- Text that can be read out loud for visually impaired individuals using screen readers.
- Subtitles or transcripts for videos catering to the hearing impaired.
- Clear, intuitive site design that can be navigated with keyboard commands for those with motor disabilities.
- Consistent and straightforward navigation that’s user-friendly for individuals with cognitive challenges.
Why Does It Matter?
Beyond moral and legal reasons, enhancing web accessibility can dramatically improve customer experience. If your webpage is inaccessible, you’re also inadvertently turning away potential customers. While aesthetic appeal is crucial, true customer experience goes beyond the look. It’s about feeling understood, catered to, and valued. Websites that are user-friendly, accessible, and intuitive leave lasting impressions.
The Importance of Customer Retention
Acquiring new customers is vital. However, retaining customers and maintaining a strong customer relationship is the long-term goal. Why? Because loyal customers not only provide steady revenue but can also become brand ambassadors. Their positive experiences and word-of-mouth recommendations can fuel future growth. A user who finds it difficult to interact with your website is less likely to return. By prioritizing accessibility, you’re showing customers you value and respect their experience, invariably encouraging them to return.
Your website is one of the first interactions many potential customers have with your business. User experience, design, and accessibility are all major components of the first impression. Businesses that support accessible platforms go beyond simply upholding moral or legal obligations to create a diverse range of experiences for each visitor. It welcomes users, showcases your products or services, and, ideally, helps convert visitors into loyal customers. However, have you considered whether your digital entrance is open to all potential customers? That’s where web accessibility comes into play.
Why Prioritize Web Accessibility?
- Broadening Your Audience: Approximately 15% of the world’s population experiences some form of disability. By making your website accessible, you’re not only doing the right thing but also expanding your potential customer base significantly.
- Enhancing User Experience (UX): The adjustments made for accessibility often lead to a better UX for all users. Simpler navigation, clear call-to-actions, and legible fonts benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities.
- SEO Benefits: Search engines, like Google, love websites that cater to a broader audience and provide valuable content. Many accessibility adjustments can also lead to better search rankings.
- Legal Compliance: Various regions and countries are enforcing web accessibility guidelines. By ensuring your website is compliant, you’re reducing the risk of potential legal challenges and fines.
- Building Brand Reputation: By creating an inclusive online space, you’re portraying your business as empathetic, socially responsible, and forward-thinking. This can foster customer loyalty and enhance your brand’s online reputation.
The Positives of Web Accessibility and Customer Experience
Inclusivity Draws a Larger Audience: An accessible website caters to a broader demographic, including the estimated 15% of the global population with disabilities. By removing digital barriers, businesses invite a more extensive range of users to engage, thus expanding their potential customer base.
Enhanced User Experience: Accessibility features, from clear fonts to logical navigation, often translate to a superior user experience for all visitors. A site that’s easy to understand and navigate keeps users engaged, reduces bounce rates, and potentially increases conversions.
Improved Search Engine Rankings: Accessible websites tend to be SEO-friendly. Features like proper header tags, alt text for images, and clear site structure not only aid users with disabilities but are also favored by search engine algorithms.
Boosted Brand Image: A commitment to accessibility reflects a brand’s values and social responsibility. Users appreciate and trust businesses that prioritize inclusivity, leading to positive word-of-mouth and online reviews.
Lack of Web Accessibility and its Negative Effect on Online Reputation
Exclusion Leads to Lost Opportunities: A non-accessible website can alienate potential customers. This is not just a missed revenue opportunity but can also lead to negative feedback from users who feel marginalized.
Legal Repercussions: With accessibility laws like the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) becoming more stringent, businesses risk legal challenges and potential fines if their websites aren’t compliant. Such lawsuits can be expensive and damaging to a brand’s reputation.
Increased Bounce Rates: A site that’s difficult to navigate can frustrate users, leading them to leave prematurely. This not only impacts potential sales but can also negatively influence SEO rankings.
Damaged Brand Reputation: In today’s digital age, a single tweet or review highlighting a brand’s neglect of accessibility can spread like wildfire. Such negative publicity can erode trust and deter potential customers.
When leveraged correctly, web accessibility can elevate a brand, enhancing user experience, and bolstering online reputation. However, neglecting this crucial aspect can lead to a downward spiral of missed opportunities, legal troubles, and a tarnished brand image.
Web accessibility is a big part of digital engagement. It empowers businesses, big or small, to be more inclusive, reach a broader audience, and provide a superior digital experience. Utilize web accessibility to improve customer experience and your online reputation. Is your website accessible? Schedule a consultation with our team to make sure your site is inclusive and ADA-compliant.