Website accessibility refers to how inclusive and user-friendly a website is for people with disabilities. An accessible website is one that can be easily navigated and understood by users with vision, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments.
While accessibility is first and foremost about inclusion and providing equal access, improving the accessibility of your business’s website also comes with tangible benefits. Here are some of the key ways your business could benefit from an accessible website:
Reach a Wider Audience
There are over 1 billion people in the world living with disabilities. By excluding them, you’re missing out on a significant customer base. An accessible website allows you to expand your reach and target demographics you may have overlooked.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four U.S. adults has a disability. Your website should be designed to meet the needs of this large population. Not only is it the right thing to do ethically, but it also makes smart business sense.
Gain a Competitive Advantage
Many businesses still do not prioritize accessibility in their website design. By getting ahead of the curve and optimizing for accessibility, you’ll distinguish your business from competitors. Your website will connect with customers other companies’ sites are excluding.
Showcase Your Company Values
Consumers care more than ever about corporate social responsibility and want to support ethical brands. Improving accessibility displays your commitment to inclusion and equal opportunity.
Your accessible website can help communicate other positive values your brands represents like progressiveness, innovation, compassion, and community. Meeting diverse users’ needs better aligns your business with 21st century consumer priorities.
Attract Top Talent
Job seekers today look closely at a company’s culture and mission when evaluating employment opportunities. Building an accessible website signals to prospective talent that you’re an inclusive, forward-thinking workplace.
Accessibility also benefits current employees who may develop or already have disabilities. Your website is often the “face” of your business, so its accessibility speaks volumes about your organization.
Boost SEO & Increase Traffic
Making your website ADA compliant and optimized for various disabilities can also help boost your search engine optimization (SEO). Accessible sites tend to be better designed with clean code and strong information architecture.
They emphasize elements search engines value like quality metadata, alt text for images, heading tags, and clear navigation and content structure. With strong technical foundations, accessible sites perform better and can lead to increased organic traffic.
There are legal incentives to improve accessibility as well. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to goods and services.
Businesses that do not accommodate disabilities on their website face potential ADA lawsuits and legal action. By optimizing for accessibility proactively, you can avoid expenses related to litigation.
Rank Higher in Voice Searches
Voice search usage is growing steadily, with 50% of households estimated to own smart speakers as of 2022. Voice search tends to favor sites with clear navigation, quality semantic markup, and strong internal linking—all elements of accessible design.
By improving website accessibility, you can better optimize content for voice searches and reach higher in results on platforms like Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, and others.
Enhance UX for All
Many aspects of accessible design lead to a better overall user experience. Some examples include:
- Alt text for images improves SEO and enhances visual context for users with impaired vision.
- Closed captions on videos benefit users with hearing issues but also help users watching without sound.
- Sufficient color contrast accommodates visual impairments while also improving readability for all users.
- Keyboard compatibility assists users with motor impairments but also helps those navigating by keyboard alone.
- Clear, consistent navigation aids users with cognitive conditions while providing a streamlined experience that benefits everyone.
By optimizing for users with disabilities, you improve website usability for all visitors. Enhancing UX drives leads, conversions, and revenue regardless of users’ abilities.
The business case for accessible website design is multifaceted but clear. Maintaining inaccessible websites results in exclusion, lost customers, stagnant growth, and legal risks.
Prioritizing accessibility opens up new markets, attracts talent, builds brand reputation, avoids lawsuits, and lifts your content in search rankings. It’s not only the right thing to do ethically but also makes sound financial sense.
Every business should evaluate its website accessibility and make needed improvements. Treat inclusion as an opportunity rather than an obligation. With forethought and effort, your website can connect with and serve users of all abilities.