Website accessibility refers to the ability of your website’s content to be accessed, read, understood, and used by everyone.
As Conversion Rate Optimization Specialist, it’s important to understand that not all users are alike. A significant group of users that is often overlooked is those with impairments. According to numbers by Contentsquare, over 1 billion people have an impairment that affects their ability to use the web.
Besides it being a moral obligation to help these users, it means that if you’re not considering website accessibility when optimizing your site, you could be missing out on a lot of potential customers and, thus, revenue. According to ADA Site Compliance (institute for site compliance in the US), the economic impact of website inaccessibility is about $16.8 billion.
Understanding impaired users
There are many reasons your website visitors have a hard time accessing your website. Hearing disabilities, seeing disabilities, dyslexia, and lack of motor control are just a few of them.
It is important to understand these users and how they navigate your website to provide the best possible experience for them. To do so, you need to conduct user research.
Conduct user research to assess the website accessibility
There are several ways to conduct user research to assess website accessibility.
- Experience it yourself using a Chrome extension: Try using Chrome extensions that simulate how people with a disability experience your website. An example is Web Disability Simulator.
- Experience a hearing disability: Watch your videos with your device’s sound turned off.
- Navigate your website using your keyboard only: As a large group of people does not use a mouse or trackpad due to physical or seeing impairments, being able to navigate your website without one is critical. If you want to know how this works, check out the YouTube video below.
- Usability tests and interviews: Conduct usability tests or interview users with an impairment to understand how well they can navigate your website and where improvements to website accessibility can be made.
Applying general rules for website accessibility
In addition to conducting user research, there are several general rules you can apply to your website to improve website accessibility.
- Clear navigation: Text-to-speech software scans the navigation and headings; using the keyboard, these users navigate through your website. Therefore, ensure you have well-structured content and clear navigation, which is easy to navigate with a keyboard.
- Correct contrast ratio: Have a contrast ratio of 4.5 to 1. This is, for instance, the contrast between the text and the background. Or the text and background color in your call-to-action buttons. There are several websites and Chrome extensions that help you check this.
- Large font size: Use a font size of at least 14px, but preferably 16px or larger.
- Captions and alt text: Use captions in your videos and alt text with your images to ensure that users with visual impairments can understand the content.
In my Udemy courses, there are automated captions. To improve the quality, I am working on setting these up manually.
Website accessibility legal requirements
Web accessibility is more than a moral obligation. Web inaccessibility is also against the law in many countries, and failure to comply could result in fines. Websites and apps are considered public accommodations, particularly those that provide free services to the general public, such as government websites. Hence, complying with these laws is critical. More and more countries have these laws in place, which is fantastic. If you are living in the US, you can read up on these laws on the website of ADA site compliance.
Help users with an impairment
As so many people have an impairment, don’t forget these users when doing user research and optimizing your website. Not just for legal reasons but mainly to help these people get a better user experience on your website. By applying website accessibility in your conversion rate optimization efforts, you will be doing the right thing and expanding your potential customer base.