Accessibility has always been something that was in the back of my mind when creating websites. We all know that it’s very important, right? The question has always been, “Well, how important is it?”
At the recent WordCamp US in Philadelphia, there was an outcry of support regarding accessibility, and with good reason. Current figures suggest that between 10 percent and 20 percent of people have disabilities, which might affect their ability to navigate and understand your website. Those numbers don’t seem like much to you? Let’s take a moment and break it down then.
- Let’s say you have an awesome online store receiving 5,000 visits with a 2-percent conversion rate.
- Your store has 100 purchases per day, with an average of a $50 sale.
- Let’s keep using easy figures — so 10 percent of your users have a disability (or 500 people per day).
- Out of those 500 people who are now unable to easily purchase on your site, you just lost 10 sales – or $500 — per day.
That’s right, since we didn’t consider optimizing our site to be accessible to all people, we are losing up to $500 per day (or $182,500 per year). I don’t know about you, but that seems like an awful lot of money to leave on the table simply because we alienated customers from our store.
How to improve and optimize for accessibility on your website
OK, now that we are on board with the necessity to optimize our sites to become more accessible by those with disabilities, what do we do about it? Here are five quick tips to optimize your site today.
1. Check your site.
First thing, let’s see how your site is doing. We always need a baseline when it comes to optimizing a site. Here’s a fairly complete list of tools to try from W3.org.
2. Design your site.
Now that we have a good baseline, let’s look at where we can optimize. Take the time to really think about colors. Are they contrasting enough to let the words show? Are we making sure alt tags are descriptive enough that someone who is using a screen reader can understand what is going on? How about forms — do they have a correct tab index that flows and makes sense?
3. Ensure proper page structure
Screen readers utilize your header tags to navigate the page. So not only is this very important for SEO, but also important for screen readers. Remember to avoid picking a certain header tag simply because of the look; choose the right header tag and then style it accordingly using CSS.
4. Use image alt tags.
Again, focusing on both SEO and screen readers, you should always make sure that the alt text describes the information you are trying to portray. If you are using the image as a link, then make sure to have the alt text read the action you want the user to do. For instance, “Download 10 Ways to Help Your Business Succeed Online PDF” tells the user exactly what they are going to do if they follow that linked image.
5. Have videos?
If you have a video on your site, make sure to add a transcript or captions to go along with it. This will serve you well for people who are deaf and need to be able to read your information, and also will benefit you in search engines. If you’re looking for some quick tips on how to add transcripts to your page, check out this blog post.
When it comes to user accessibility, it’s important to implement these quick-and-easy five steps. Don’t alienate your users; cater to them. The above items not only help the current users that aren’t able to access your site, but also will help your site’s SEO.