What is Website Accessibility, and why should I implement it?

The ecommerce industry is evolving at a pace that can be difficult to keep up. It’s essential to make sure that you provide accessibility for all of your customers to stay competitive. Some people with disabilities rely on the web to access information and communicate. If your site isn’t accessible, they cannot engage with your services and products. Ensuring your ecommerce website is accessible is the best way to maximise your reach and influence.

Read these guidelines and website accessibility standards so you can ensure your ecommerce store will be accessible for everyone.

Benefits of making your store more accessible

Making your online store more accessible has many benefits. The most notable is that it will allow people with some disabilities to use and enjoy your site.

It can also provide a better experience for customers who would not usually use the online shopping channel (such as older adults or young children). You’ll find these guidelines helpful to make your online store more accessible for everyone.

How to help people with disabilities

The best way to help people with disabilities is to be aware and considerate when designing your ecommerce site.

Here are some considerations for any disability that can prevent people from accessing your website using it.

  • People with visual disabilities may not be able to see the site or have trouble reading text if it’s in a font that is too small. People who are blind or low-vision will need text alternatives for images.
  • Those who are deaf and hard of hearing might not hear any audio from a video on your website, so the videos should include subtitles. According to Forbes, 69% of consumers watch video without sound, so this will be a good move regardless of your customers’ hearing ability.
  • People with cognitive disabilities might need more time to figure out how the site works and make online purchases.
  • Physical disabilities such as arthritis may make it difficult for some users to use a mouse or keyboard.

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What are some best practices for website accessibility?

Online retailers should ensure that their website is accessible to those with any potential difficulties. They should provide a video and audio content transcript or include closed captions in different languages where relevant.

There are many features that ecommerce websites can adapt to make their sites more accessible. These include using a larger font size, so it’s easier for people with visual impairments to read website text. Many more businesses in New Zealand can make their website design better and reduce website accessibility issues. Go through this website accessibility checklist to ensure that your website is accessible for all your customers.

1. Adjust your visuals

Use appropriate colour contrast for text and background. Ecommerce websites must make sure there is enough difference between the colours used so that a person with vision difficulties can read what is displayed online without any problems.

The standard ratio of contrasting colours is roughly 4% text against a light or white background and 18% text against a dark or black background.

Make sure all items that are disabled have an access method available for users with disabilities. Ecommerce websites may need to add functionality, like icons on the side of images and photos. People who can’t click will still interact with those images in other ways, such as using a screen reader. Online retailers should make sure their website is accessible by those who use screen readers and magnifiers. Test your website with screen readers like JAWS and NVDA.

Don’t use flashing or blinking images, and don’t have too many moving objects on the page at one time. Ecommerce websites must make sure that they’re not overloading users with disabilities by making them watch an animated gif for 45 seconds without being able to pause it.

Online retailers should make sure that their website is accessible for people with low vision and use appropriate font sizes, colours and contrast ratios to provide this customer group with a better experience.

Ensure your website design is up to website accessibility standards
Ensure your website design is up to website accessibility standards

2. Add descriptions and text

Provide descriptions of images and videos. Ecommerce websites may want to make sure that they’re providing captions for pictures or videos on the site so that people with disabilities can understand what’s happening in these media.

Provide text transcripts for audio files, podcasts, video clips, or other sounds only content. Ecommerce stores must consider those who can’t listen to traditional audio, such as people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Providing a transcript for these media will allow them to understand the content without extensive sign language knowledge.

Provide links in order of importance and relevance. Ecommerce websites may want to consider that some people with disabilities rely on their keyboard instead of a mouse. So it’s necessary for all links and headings in ecommerce stores to be clearly labelled with an appropriate anchor text so that your site will be easy to find with other searches.

3. Optimise your services

Provide extensive customer service. Ecommerce websites may want to provide a chat option and comprehensive phone support for those with disabilities to quickly find the answers or products. You can also access more users if you provide them with different platforms to communicate with you. Such as having your ecommerce on social media or online forums for people to ask questions and find more information about your online store.

Speak with your customer service team. To be prepared to handle online accessibility requests from customers, you’ll want to speak with the customer services staff about how they can help these individuals contact you. You’ll also want to outline a process for your customer service team to follow when online accessibility requests are received, as well as guidelines about what content you can and cannot provide online.

Include search engine optimisation for online videos so that looking for accessibility information can find it online. You can do this by adding a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) meta tag and online video tags that tell search engines and online directories what your content is.

Ecommerce websites should make sure online shoppers with disabilities can access their products, which means that these people will need to reach the website on any device – PC, tablet, or mobile. Website accessibility is crucial for online retailers as it will provide more customers and higher profits in the long run. Those with disabilities are more often than not are less able to travel and more likely to interact with your business online.

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4. Check your website’s accessibility

A website accessibility checker, such as the WAVE tool from Web Accessibility In Mind (WebAIM), can help you identify what causes problems for those with disabilities and then fix them. This will help make your website accessible to more people.

Another helpful tool is online forums, where you can ask other online retailers what they’ve done in the past for accessibility purposes and how it’s improved their business. Researching and finding accessible websites examples online will give you an idea of what has worked well for others so you can improve yours.

Conclusion

Did this list raise any accessibility issues on your website?

You should be aware of how your website is functioning for those with disabilities so you can make it work better for them. Think about different parts of your business that interacts with the customer. From the point, they search your product online to the delivery of it to their home. Either way, communicating with them in as many various ways will impact your online sales.