In such a diverse world, it’s essential for businesses to ensure their website is inclusive of all users. Making your website accessible is not only important from a human perspective but also helps you reach new audiences. There are millions of users with disabilities that rely on websites to complete simple but important tasks. We need websites to find a local grocery store, order furniture online, or manage our banking accounts. All users, including those with disabilities, need websites to be accessible. If the website is not usable for your customer, the experience turns negative and often that person is lost forever.
There are small, simple steps a business can take that will completely transform the online customer experience and increase accessibility. Accessibility is also a legal requirement for some. As a best practice, companies should follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) when developing any type of digital content. Making small changes can make a major impact on how inclusive a company is online.
How Simple Changes Can Enhance the Customer Experience
The WCAG can help businesses understand web accessibility. By following these guidelines, businesses can address the needs of those people with visual, auditory, speech, cognitive, or physical disabilities. Producing content that is accessible and inclusive is key for any business. Online inclusion creates the opportunity to acquire more customers and help enhance brand reputation.
Digital accessibility is about more than fixing a few errors on your website. It’s a process that needs commitment from across the business. Accessibility should be baked into everything you do online. From how you build your website, to how you write your content. For the best results, your team should include representatives from content, design, sales, and development. With a cross-functional team, you will be able to build processes where:
- Monitoring for accessibility is carried out on a regular basis and any issues are quickly resolved
- Content is readable and accessible, without jargon where possible
- Everything is truly user-led with your decision-making and design
A non-digital example of inclusive design is a ramp outside a place of business. While this ramp is essential for those who use wheelchairs or need assistive walking devices, there are others who will benefit as well. A mother or father with a stroller may find it easier to enter the building. A person carrying groceries can use the ramp instead of taking the stairs. These same rules apply online. If you’ve ever broken an arm, you know how difficult it becomes to use your laptop and phone. If you have vision loss, you may struggle to read small text. If you’re working in a busy office it may be hard to hear video or audio content. In all these situations, digital accessibility will improve the experience. Improving accessibility for some usually improves the experience for all.
7 Tips to Create an Inclusive Design on any Website
- Easy to Read Content – In designing inclusive content, typically less is more. Focus on your message and relevant content without the “fluff.” Follow plain language guidelines. Avoid jargon, long sentences and complicated words. Bear in mind that the average reading age in the US is between 12-14 years old.
- Optimize Color Palettes – With more and more users using mobile phones to access websites it’s important to use high contrast digital designs and not mix certain colors.
- Minimize Moving Parts – For optimal accessibility , companies should minimize moving parts on their website. Instead, having a clear layout with understandable links and large buttons helps make the site easy to navigate and not cause confusion.
- Understand End-Users – It is important for companies to know the requirements and pain points of the end-users using their website. A great way to gain understanding is to conduct user interviews to understand customer experience and take their suggestions into account.
- Provide Different Languages – Provide different languages, even if your company is an English-speaking country. Your content should be provided in multiple languages and the text should be easily translated.
- Add ALT-Text – In order to support users with disabilities, websites must be optimized for individuals with vision loss. A sensible ALT description should be provided for all images to describe what the picture is.
- Demonstrate Inclusivity – An inclusive experience goes beyond accessibility requirements. It helps the user feel connected and included. Showcasing diversity within your company helps individuals feel welcomed and relatable.
As the world changes, digital accessibility will also evolve. There are digital accessibility tools that your company can use to scan your website and automatically receive feedback on improvements that can be made. I encourage everyone to learn more about digital accessibility and how you can use these tips to enhance your company’s online presence.
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