Accessibility is the practice of designing and developing websites that can be used by people with different abilities and needs. Making the genuinely useful parts of our content accessible is not only a moral duty, but also a smart business strategy. In this blog post, we will explore some of the benefits of making your website more accessible, beyond the obvious ethical reasons.
One of the main advantages of accessibility is that it can help you reach a wider audience. According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people in the world have some form of disability, and this number is expected to rise as the population ages.
By making your website accessible, you can ensure that you are not excluding potential customers or users who may have difficulties accessing your content or features. For example, you can use captions and transcripts for your videos and podcasts, use alt text and labels for your images and forms, and use clear and simple language for your text. These practices can also benefit people who are not disabled, but may have temporary or situational impairments, such as low vision, hearing loss, slow internet connection, or limited device capabilities.
Another benefit of accessibility is that it can improve your search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google use algorithms to rank websites based on various factors, such as relevance, authority, and user experience. Google has repeatedly stated that accessibility is a core part of their criteria, so neglecting it is bound to cause you headaches. Also, by making your website accessible, you can boost your SEO performance in several other ways.
For instance, you can increase your relevance by using semantic HTML tags and headings that describe the structure and content of your pages. You can also increase your authority by providing high-quality content that is easy to read and understand for both humans and machines. Moreover, you can enhance your user experience by ensuring that your website is fast, responsive, and easy to navigate for all users.
UX is influenced by many factors, such as usability, functionality, aesthetics, etc. There are a bunch of ways accessibility manages to have a positive impact on UX.
You can start improving your usability by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a set of principles and better practices for creating accessible web content. You can also improve your functionality by testing your website with different browsers, devices, and assistive technologies, such as screen readers and keyboards. As for aesthetics, you can work on that by incorporating accessibility features like proper font size, contrast, and spacing that not only benefit individuals with visual impairments but also enhance the readability for all users.
When you prioritize accessibility, you create a website that is easy to navigate for all users. Meaning your website navigation overall is better off with accessibility in mind. Plus, structuring your content properly entails faster and more efficient interactions, which is almost always a plus.
By making your website accessible, you can demonstrate that you care about your customers and users, and that you respect their diversity and dignity. You can also show that you are committed to social responsibility and corporate citizenship, and that you support the human rights of all people. These actions can help you build a positive reputation that can attract and retain customers and users, as well as partners and investors.
Even if you do not actually care about any of these things. Which would of course be unfortunate, but as we mentioned in the beginning, people who care about that stuff already notice strong reasons not to ignore accessibility.
So, even with that in mind you have pretty strong incentives to at least play along and not have to play catch-up because these various components of your branding suffer.
To sum it up, making your website more accessible can bring you many benefits beyond the obvious ethical reasons. You can increase your reach by reaching more people with different abilities and needs. You can improve your SEO by ranking higher on search engines. You can enhance your UX by creating a satisfying and enjoyable experience for all users. And you can boost your reputation by showing that you care about your customers and users. Accessibility is not only a moral duty but also a smart business strategy.