In 2023, your brand must be inclusive. If people with disabilities cannot use your website and products/services, you’ll alienate a large portion of your target audience and tarnish your reputation.
Web accessibility is the practice of designing and developing a website with tools and technology that make it accessible to people with disabilities. No matter what their level of ability, web users should be able to consume your content with little to no hiccups.
When you provide a consistently good browsing experience to all visitors, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your brand identity, sales, and online credibility.
As a business, you should go the extra mile to accommodate people with disabilities, impairments, and limitations. Humanise your brand, show people you care, and steer your business in the right direction accordingly.
In this blog, we’ll offer a closer look at the importance of website accessibility, discuss its benefits, and highlight its impact on Google search engine result page (SERP) rankings. Let’s begin.
The Importance of Website Accessibility
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 6 Australians have a disability. This is commonly known as ‘disability prevalence’. If your business strictly caters to normative people, you’ll suffer a significant reputational loss.
Brands that don’t accommodate divergent people are considered unmindful and disconnected from the reality of the world. By making your website accessible, you’ll cater to a diverse group of people who generally have trouble consuming media and shopping online.
In 2023, there’s a lot of pressure on brands to step up to the mark and become more inclusive. An accessible website can be easily browsed by people with cognitive, auditory, physical, neurological, visual, and speech disabilities.
It’s important to note that website accessibility also helps people without disabilities, e.g., older people, people with reduced abilities because of a fracture, lost glasses, etc., people with a weak internet connection, people who are in an environment that makes it difficult to see properly (excessive sunlight) or hear (excessive noise), etc.
How Can I Make My Website More Accessible?
In order to make your site more accessible, start by determining where you currently stand. A complete analysis will help you identify areas of improvement and create the right game plan accordingly.
Use these strategies:
1. Choose a Disability-Friendly Content Management System
You can choose between dozens of content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress and Drupal. Take your time and choose a platform that a) checks off all the boxes for your brand and b) offers high accessibility.
Select an accessible template and ensure that all the elements (video player, editing toolbar, etc.) support the creation of accessible content.
2. Add Alt Text to Your Images
Images are a big accessibility stumbling block for web users who have low vision or are blind. They often use assistive technologies like refreshable braille displays and screen readers. These software programs use a synthesiser or braille display to read the text on the screen. However, they cannot read images themselves.
If you want visually impaired readers to get a good grasp of the images on your website, add alt text to every visual element. Describe the image as accurately as you can. Good alt text is descriptive, precise, and simple. Avoid using difficult jargon or complex vocabulary.
3. Give Users the Option of Increasing Font Size
Visually impaired users cannot read small text sizes. Make sure they have the option of increasing the font size with ease. Your call-to-action (CTA) buttons should also have significantly bigger font size than the remaining content. Since a CTA is the most powerful element on a page, it should be accessible to everyone.
4. Don’t Overwhelm Users with Colour
Colour should be used cautiously and carefully. If you use a mix of bright colours, you’ll overwhelm readers. Red-green is a common colour deficiency. If you exclusively use such colours, you’ll cause visual confusion.
Avoid using deep colours. Additionally, make it a point to use visual indicators like question marks, asterisks, etc. Ensure visual separation, i.e., separate visual elements with distinct borders or whitespace.
5. Use ARIA Roles
ARIA (accessible rich internet applications) is a smart technical specification that makes dynamic content more accessible. Add ARIA attributes to your HTML. The most common categories include abstract, window, widget, document structure, landmark, and live regions.
Pro tip: Make sure you set up keyboard accessibility as well. ARIA only affects people who use assistive technology.
Will Web Accessibility Improve My Rankings?
Yes, it will. While accessibility is not a direct ranking factor, it does improve rankings in a roundabout way. Accessible websites perform much better on SERPs. You’ll generate more traffic and build a wide audience.
It’s important to note that accessibility cannot be quantified, which is the primary reason why it isn’t considered a ranking factor. However, Google acknowledges the importance of accessibility.
According to Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller, accessibility may become a ranking factor in the future. In the meantime, however, webmasters are requested to focus on direct ranking factors and invest in the right indirect ranking avenues.
Create a Unique Web Accessibility Plan
Copy-pasting accessibility strategies is a big faux pas. If you do this, you’ll struggle to create a targeted plan that yields good results.
Create an individualised accessibility plan that targets hyper-specific audience subsets first. Yes, you should eventually make your website accessible to everyone. However, if you don’t have the budget for it yet, run a website and audience audit to fetch detailed insights. Audience insight will help you take the right steps.
Ready to start building an accessible website? Our experts are here to help. At TocToc, we offer professional web design and development services to clients across Canberra and Sydney. We also provide digital marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, app development, and email marketing services.
With a strong focus on quality, our team goes the extra mile to help you achieve your goals and kick-start long-term growth. Contact us to get started!