4 reasons your website should be accessible
What is an accessible website?
Simply speaking, an accessible website is one built to be usable by the widest range of users. Some of the major elements that affect accessibility are the use of colour and contrast, use of text, and improving navigation.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are internationally recognized standards used to classify how accessible websites are and how to make them easier to use for people with disabilities.
Reasons to have an accessible website
Include all your users
As a simple principle of fairness and decency, you don’t want to exclude people from using your website. And whether you’re running a business, promoting an issue you care about, or running a political campaign – it’s bad business to make it harder for people to see your message.
But you might not realize how many people you’re excluding if you haven’t built an accessible design.
Colour blindness affects 1 in 8 men, and approximately 4.5% of the population. That means that in Canada (where we’re based) there are 1.7 million Canadians that perceive colours differently.
Now add to that people who are visually impaired. CNIB reports that that 1.5 million Canadians have sight-loss.
When you consider just these two visual impairments, you’ve got 3.2 million potential website users. Obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of other conditions that could cause someone to benefit from an accessible website design – but just looking at those two we’ve captured 9% of Canada’s population.
With an aging demographic, the need is only going to grow.
Accessible Design is Good Design
The elements of design that create accessible websites generally make them better.
Higher contrast ratios make text easier to read and make visual calls-to-action stand out more.
Which of these buttons do you think gets more clicks?
And nothing on earth is more annoying than timed elements like sliders that change just as you’re going to click them. Get rid of those timed elements – they’re not just bad from an accessibility standpoint, they’re lowering your click rate.
Improve your SEO rankings
Accessible websites have great search engine optimization (SEO).
Many of the design decisions that negatively affect accessibility also hurt SEO – things like using pictures in place of text, not using alt tags, poor navigation, etc.
Google and other search engines are constantly rating how easy it is for users to use your site, so if your site is inaccessible in some way, you’re going to rank lower on Google.
So, if you want better rankings on Google, you should make your site easier to use.
It may be required by law
Maybe we should have started with this one?
Accessibility is increasingly required by law.
In Ontario (where testerdigital is based) the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was passed in 2005, but new requirements for websites came into force in 2021. Now all government organizations, large businesses, and non-profits are required to have accessible websites that meet WCAG 2.0 AA standards.
The maximum penalties under the AODA include:
- A corporation/organization that is guilty can be fined up to $100,000 per day
- Directors and officers of a corporation/organization that is guilty can be fined up to $50,000 per day
Making your website accessible will make it better.
You’ll get more traffic from search engines.
You’ll get more clicks.
It’ll be easier for all your visitors to navigate, but especially so for those with disabilities.
And if those aren’t good enough reasons, the law wherever you are might require it.