Website accessibility in its most basic definition is about ensuring websites work for the widest possible audience. For most people, it is easy to browse the web, they can point and click, visually skip over content they don’t want to read, listen and watch a video clip, and skim read to find what they are looking for. This is not a new concept, website accessibility has been around for well over 10 years. However, it amazes me how many organisations haven’t covered the basics. In this blog I will scratch the surface of web accessibility, drawing on experiences from some of our e-commerce sites.
So what is accessibility all about. Here I’m going to take a two common questions or issues facing most e-commerce businesses:
1. Is your site in any other languages? Do you need to think about another cultural perspective?
So your site is currently in English but would it benefit from being translated? Would that make it make it more accessible? For example, 30% of Jersey Beauty‘s customers are Swedish. They are able to buy the beauty products much more cheaply from our site than in their own country. We therefore needed to consider how to make our site and the whole process work well for them. Eventually we decided not to translate the site into Swedish. However, we did work with local post offices in Sweden to provide tracking numbers for a seamless delivery. It is important to think about your international customers.
In the western world there is a default way of setting up a website. However, if you are operating in a different country, culture or market, do they expect something different?
2. Does your site work for those with disabilities, such as visual or hearing impairment?
When setting up your website, there are a number of standards for the visually impaired of which you need to be aware. If you do not adhere to these standards then you will be penalised by Google and you will be moved down the ranking within the page listing.
It is also important to think about how your site works for those who are hearing impaired. This is particularly relevant if there is quite a bit of video work on your site. Think about the colours you are using. It was a trend for a while to do things in colours that don’t contrast well but this doesn’t work. We mustn’t get so caught up in the aesthetics that we forget about the user. Clearly aesthetics matter but they are not the ultimate goal of design. Often, poor readability doesn’t get picked up in the design process.
"Your audiences needs should be kept front and centre when creating the design. After all, there is no point having a pretty website if no one can read it!" Matt Edmundson
It is really important to make sure your site is fully accessible to everyone, if they can’t read the text or watch the videos then they are not going to buy from you!