Women and Digital Inclusion

How to make your website more accessible as a business owner

Sharing is caring!

Like a welcoming shop with wide aisles, clear signage, and accessible entrances, your website should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability. However, research has found that almost 97% of websites are still inaccessible to those with additional needs.

Website accessibility ensures that people with disabilities can navigate, understand, and interact with your website as quickly as anyone else.  This isn’t just about social responsibility: it’s a smart business decision that unlocks your company’s benefits. Below, the WODIN team has put together some strategies to help you make your site accessible.

 

Why accessibility matters

Aside from the obvious benefits of making your website accessible, think of it as an opportunity to expand your customer base exponentially. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 15% of the global population experiences some form of disability.

This translates to a massive market segment you could miss out on if your website isn’t accessible.  Consider visual impairments, motor skill limitations, cognitive differences, and hearing loss. Making your website inclusive opens your doors to a broader audience, fostering trust and brand loyalty with a previously untapped customer pool.

Imagine a visually impaired customer who can easily navigate your product descriptions or a user with motor skill limitations who can seamlessly complete a purchase using voice commands.  Website accessibility opens possibilities for these individuals, transforming them from passive observers to active participants in your online ecosystem.

 

Compliance

Website accessibility goes beyond capturing a larger market share; it’s the right thing to do.  In many countries, regulations mandate a baseline level of website accessibility for government and public websites.  While these regulations might only apply to some businesses everywhere, they highlight the growing importance of digital inclusion.

The UK accessibility legislation states, “public sector bodies must comply with the accessibility requirement”, but this hasn’t yet been rolled out to private businesses.

 

Accessibility boosts your SEO

Website accessibility has a hidden perk: it can improve your search engine optimisation (SEO). Many accessibility best practices, like clear and concise content structure, proper use of headings, and semantic HTML, are also favoured by search engines.

By making your website user-friendly for everyone, you might also make it more discoverable in search results. Search engines consider the overall user experience when ranking a website, and an accessible website is inherently user-friendly.

 

How to build an accessible website

Now that you understand the importance of website accessibility, it’s time to delve into actionable steps to make your website more inclusive.

  • Put user experience first: Move beyond aesthetics and prioritise a user-centered design approach. Conduct user research that includes individuals with disabilities to understand their needs and pain points. This will help you create a website that is visually appealing, functional, and navigable for everyone.
  • Keep it simple: Strive for a clean and uncluttered website layout. Use ample white space, clear fonts with high contrast ratios, and consistent colour schemes that are easy on the eyes for users with visual impairments or colour blindness.
  • Keyboard navigation: Ensure your website can be fully navigated using just the keyboard. This caters to users who rely on screen readers or have difficulty using a mouse. Test your navigation with a keyboard only to identify any potential roadblocks.
  • Be descriptive: Don’t underestimate the power of descriptive alternative text (alt text) for images. Alt text describes the content of an image for screen readers, allowing visually impaired users to understand the information conveyed by the image.
  • Embrace captions: Providing closed captions and transcripts is essential for video content. This ensures users who are deaf or hard of hearing can access the information presented in the video.

 

Accessibility resources

Making your website accessible doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task.  There are numerous tools and resources available to help you on your journey, such as Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools, which can scan your website and identify accessibility issues. These tools are a great starting point for pinpointing areas for improvement.

Several companies offer accessibility testing services if you want a more in-depth evaluation. They can provide detailed reports that pinpoint specific accessibility barriers and offer recommendations for improvement. Look for reputable accessibility testing companies with experience in your industry and a proven track record of helping firms achieve compliance.

Finally, for certain website platforms like WordPress, there are accessibility plugins and extensions available that can automate some accessibility features. These tools can be a helpful starting point, but they should not be a substitute for a comprehensive accessibility audit.

 

Wrapping up

By making your website accessible, you’re not just complying with regulations or chasing a broader market share.  You’re creating a welcoming and inclusive online space for everyone.  In our ever-connected world, that’s a powerful value proposition. At WODIN, we help offer essential digital skills training for women across our region – get in touch to find out more.

75 / 100