By Sean Hall
Web accessibility has always been a hot topic for business websites. While making your website accessible does sound like a good idea, it also usually comes with a price. If you have been running your website for a while and have a sizable number of blogs and pages, it can take considerable resources to make it all accessible. So, the question that website owners often ask is whether making their website accessible is worth it? Well, to answer this, let’s go over the advantages of web accessibility for business websites and how they impact your online presence.
What is web accessibility?
First, let’s explain what making your website accessible is all about. By increasing the accessibility of your website, you make your content available to people with disabilities. For instance, if a person is visually impaired, you can hardly expect them to read your content. And, if their hearing is impaired, they probably won’t be able to appreciate your videos. For this reason, websites try to make their content consumable in different ways. That way, ideally, no one feels left out.
Advantages of web accessibility
Unfortunately, making your website fully accessible can be costly. Apart from handling online safety, it is one of the more challenging aspects of website management. In the case of written content, you will have to have someone read all of your content and save the audio format (luckily, some programs can do a decent job with that). In the case of video content, you will have to add subtitles, which can be arduous, to say the least. If you want to take it a step further, you can add special images for the color blind. Or even design your website with larger fonts for those with poor vision. So, is going that extra mile worth the trouble? Well, all things considered, it probably is.
Reaching a wider audience
The first and the most apparent advantage of web accessibility is that you reach a wider audience. We often neglect the number of people who have some sort of difficulty and think that standard content is good enough. But, it is once you make your website accessible that you see how many people you’ve let slip through.
Avoiding potential discrimination or even legal complaints
In 2020, there were 2,523 web accessibility lawsuits in the U.S. While this may not sound like much, it is actually three times more than the 814 lawsuits in 2017. Now, by no means is this a large number. But, if the trend continues, we should see a definite increase in cases. And the last thing you want is for your company to be among the statistics.
The reason behind this is that there is a slow turn in making websites accessible to all. More and more agencies are pushing for web accessibility as a civil right. And, while we are still away from this being the case, you really ought to stay ahead of the curve. One dissatisfied customer can bring you a lot of bad press, even if you don’t end up in court. So, if nothing else, try to invest in website accessibility simply as a means of protection.
Improving your overall PR
While we are on the subject of bad press, we should mention how vital web accessibility can be for PR. Public relations often resort to boasting (non directly, of course) that you are better than your competition. And having a fully accessible website is something to boast about. As time goes by, people are taking more and more notice of how companies treat their customers and employees. With social media, it is easier than ever to highlight the bad practices of a company and praise their good ones. So, while even individuals take extra care to have a strong social media presence, companies need to try even more.
If you choose to make your website accessible, don’t shy away from saying that you are doing so. It drives the people who need the extra accessibility to your website and motivates the people who associate with them to check you out.
Helping your SEO
People are often unaware that SEO optimization and accessibility go hand in hand. First, to make your website accessible, you need to make it easy to navigate and overall intuitive to use. Luckily, SEO ranks this as one of the primary ranking factors. Secondly, you get extra room to boost your SEO rating by incorporating extra content (adding reading for written content or subtitles for videos), you get extra room to boost your SEO rating.
Keep in mind that you will use your keywords in that additional content, which is always a plus for SEO. WordPress is a great platform for this as you can easily see how your extra content impacts your SEO results. Some practices, like adding captions and alt-tags to pictures, naturally boost your accessibility. This only goes to show you how connected SEO and accessibility truly are.
Final thoughts on making your website accessible
All things considered, the advantages of web accessibility for business websites usually outweigh the cost. If you believe that your website primarily focuses on reaching a broad audience, making it accessible only makes sense, especially once you find a couple of plugins that can make this easier on you. One example when you should think twice is when creating a niche website designed for a relatively small group of people. Here you can get some points for making your website accessible. But, overall, there are probably more important aspects that you should focus on.
Sean Hall has worked as a website designer and manager for over 20 years. He now focuses on writing helpful articles for wpfullcare.com and similar websites. In his free time, he also loves to draw and spend time outside.