Nowadays, the technology we use to create websites has significantly improved. Companies and individuals alike are able to create better, faster and more accessible websites than ever before. The main reason is that consumer expectations, needs and demands are also increasing each year.
If a company website isn’t able to meet those needs or expectations, consumers will simply abandon that website and move on. That said, accessibility is one of the most important factors when it comes to having a highly functional website.
But what does that actually mean? Simply put, website accessibility means that it’s developed in a way that everyone can use it seamlessly, even people with disabilities.
Unfortunately, many company owners aren’t fully aware of the importance of website accessibility, and they tend to neglect it, especially during the website development phase.
The fact of the matter is that once you exclude something from being developed early on, it becomes more difficult and, of course, more expensive to implement in the future. That’s why it’s important to keep accessibility in mind when creating your website.
With that in mind, here are a few reasons why prioritizing web accessibility is good for your small business.
1. Saves you the money
When it comes to small businesses, finances are always a difficult topic. Many small companies don’t have a large budget to operate with, so they cannot afford to make any mistakes. That’s why prioritizing website accessibility saves you money in the long run.
As mentioned before, any feature you leave out during the website development phase becomes more expensive to implement later on when you finally realize that you need it in the first place. Therefore, think of accessibility before you create a website.
For example, let’s assume your target audience is New Yorkers. You know that the majority of your audience uses a mobile device to browse the web, yet you choose not to implement a responsive design that will cater to their needs.
So, when your web traffic is at its lowest point, you realize that your decision may not have been a good idea, after all. To avoid such inconveniences, it’s better to consult with a company that specializes in web design from New York City so that they can tell you what’s needed to make your website more accessible. That way, you can implement all the necessary features and avoid having to overpay for them once you’re in a tight spot.
2. Reach a broader audience
Highly functional and accessible websites are very sought-after nowadays. Consumers prefer websites and companies that are able to meet their needs. That said, consumers are more likely to recommend your business to their friends and family if their expectations are adequately met.
This will allow you to reach an even broader audience. This can go way beyond reaching out to audience members with disabilities. The main reason is that accessible websites are generally more convenient, and people enjoy browsing seamless websites.
When considering people with disabilities, there are at least 10% of people with some form of vision loss in the U.S. alone. Putting that into perspective, that’s around 23.7 million people.
If your website is not easily accessible, you will only lose traffic, and your company will lose a lot of potential customers. When you think about it, this consumer group is not a minority. There are more people with needs than you may think, and they shouldn’t be neglected.
That said, the consumers usually don’t have an alternative, so they settle for the next best thing that comes their way. If you manage to meet their needs, you’ll have a whole new consumer base that will remain loyal to your business because you provided them with a viable solution.
3. Improve your business reputation
Reputation is of the utmost importance in the business world. No matter how great your products or services may be or how excellent your customer service is, it won’t matter much if your reputation isn’t favorable.
Consumers simply avoid companies that aren’t reputable enough. By making your website more accessible, you’re paving the way toward a great reputation for your business. This is especially true if you’re catering to the specific needs of disabled people.
Many digital marketing agencies advise small businesses to promote their uniqueness so that they can gain more visibility and exposure in the online market. A highly accessible website can be your unique value proposition.
However, reputation is a fragile thing. You have to work hard on maintaining it so that you don’t end up in an inconvenient situation. Here are a few examples of how to maintain your business reputation.
- Use social listening to monitor brand mentions on social media.
- Respond to negative comments and feedback on time.
- Leverage user reviews and testimonials.
- Create PR campaigns.
- Ask your customers for feedback.
4. More opportunities for business growth
As mentioned before, by having an accessible website, you can potentially reach a much broader audience.
This creates more opportunities for business growth as you have access to more potential customers. What that means is that you’ll have multiple paths forward to choose from. Here are a few examples.
- Increase market penetration – By increasing the number of customers, you immediately increase your market share.
- Market development – You have an opportunity to sell your products or services in new markets, such as niche markets, for instance.
- Market diversification – Create a whole new range of products or services for your new audience members
- Product or service innovation – Develop new features for your existing products or services that will meet the needs of your new customers.
Every small business eventually reaches the moment when growth is an inevitable path forward. Preparing upfront for this endeavor and knowing which path to take makes the entire process much more seamless.
5. Avoid costly lawsuits
Lawsuits against discrimination are increasing each year. Your website can become a potential target for lawsuits due to accessibility interface issues. These lawsuits can not only cost you a lot of money, but they can also ruin your business reputation.
Back in 2008, the retail corporation Target had to pay $6 million in damage fees plus an additional $3.7 million in legal fees in a major class-action lawsuit due to accessibility issues. In 2011, Wells Fargo settled for $16 million in a similar lawsuit.
That said, accessibility litigation is a major thing now and no company can avoid it regardless of its size. Therefore, prioritizing web accessibility is not only preferable but oftentimes necessary if you want to avoid getting into unnecessary legal trouble.
6. Improves your website’s visibility
Website accessibility can do wonders for your SEO efforts. The main reason is that by making your website more accessible, you’re improving user experience, which is one of the most important ranking factors. Furthermore, by catering to the needs of disabled consumers, you’re also improving many other ranking factors.
For example, adding anchor text, improving navigation, using breadcrumbs and so on are all vital aspects of on-page SEO. Therefore, website accessibility and SEO go hand-in-hand together.
Here are some other things you can do to make your website more accessible and more SEO-friendly.
- Use Alt text for images – This allows you to describe the content of the image to people with impaired vision.
- Enable font enlargement – Helps visually-impaired people enlarge the font to help them read better and browse through your content seamlessly.
- Focus on contrast sensitivity – Color and contrast on your website may not suit everyone equally. Ensure that your JS and CSS features don’t prevent users from adjusting the contrast to suit their needs.
- Leverage keyboard navigation – Make sure consumers can access interactive elements on your website using a keyboard, such as drop-down menus, navigation bar, anchor text, widgets, forms, CTAs and so on.
- Create descriptive URLs – Screen reading software can help visually-impaired people understand the context of your URLs and where the link will lead them to.
- Leverage ARIA roles – ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications, which means these roles can make your dynamic content more accessible. In other words, you can make any website element screen reader-friendly, as well as friendly towards other assistive tools and software.
It’s not difficult to go the extra mile to ensure your website is more accessible, especially during your website’s development phase. That way, you not only cater to the needs of your disabled customers or website visitors, but you’re also improving your ranking with the search engines, such as Google.
Website accessibility has become increasingly necessary and, in some cases, mandatory for all companies.
Disabled people may be part of your target audience whether you realize this or not. That said, it’s very important to cater to their needs because it is both beneficial to them and to your business.
Ensuring your website is accessible to all is not difficult at all. All you need to do is keep it in mind when you decide to create a website for your business.