As you aspire to create a beautiful, traffic-driving site with great social media tie-ins and a top search engine ranking, there’s one more thing to consider when making your website the best experience it can be for all your customers: Accessibility.
Just as in our non-digital lives, our digital lives need to be made user friendly for not only the average visitor, but for those who may have difficulties reading and interacting with your site.
A properly and successfully designed site is one which ensures that all users are able to easily and enjoyably navigate your site – and more importantly – keeps them from clicking away to find a more user-friendly site.
Companies with federal contracts or state/local organizations which receive federal funding must comply with 508 standards. But even if you run a small business, not being compliant can cost you business. By not taking accessibility into account, you may be cutting off your site to a great many people. Considering that your web site is most likely a vital part of your business, you want to make it as usable and accessible as possible.
Common accessibility issues include:
Visual Impairments: These are very common, from poor eyesight and color blindness, to more significant visual impairments including full and partial blindness. There are also people who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy (PSE), a condition in which certain visual stimuli, particularly flashing lights and certain patterns, can cause them to have seizures.
Auditory Impairments: There are also many levels of auditory impairments from those who are slightly hard of hearing to complete deafness.
Physical and Mobility Issues: These could include pain or difficulty in the use of hands, loss of fine muscle control, arthritis, temporary or permanent bodily injury, hand tremors and diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and Parkinson’s, to name only a few.
Cognitive-Related Issues: There are a number of learning and developmental conditions that can make the use of a website difficult, including simple dyslexia.
Age: Senior users may have two disadvantages when it comes to their ability to successfully navigate the web: their overall comfort level as well as the possibility that they may suffer from one or more of the conditions we’ve already mentioned. And they may have additional age-related illnesses, such as stroke, which can affect their web use.
Just as important as bringing visitors to your site is keeping them there. A simple inability to increase text size, for example, may have someone searching for a more accessible site. So keeping up with user experience best practices, including accessibility, will guarantee a productive and enjoyable experience that will keep your customers coming back. Download my free eBook on Web Accessibility.