In 2020, creating a website that is fully accessible to individuals with disabilities should be second nature to designers and developers. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) creates requirements about physical spaces in the United States, there is no official law for the digital space. Instead, there are Web Content Accessibility guidelines that digital designers and developers should adhere to based on legal precedence. Since most Americans are using the Internet for everything from shopping to medical advice, websites must be inclusive to the 50 million Americans (19% of the American population) living with a disability. Unfortunately, websites are launched every day without consideration for the disabled – leading to poor experiences and legal liability.
ADA Accessible Websites Increase Target Audiences
If an individual with a disability is unable to experience a website as they expect, then the site is truly inaccessible. Whether they can't navigate a form with a screen reader or can't read content because the font size is too small, sites that aren't accessible to the disabled limit the appeal of your site. Whether these consumers are hard of hearing or have visual impairments, they are still a potential new customer who can land on your website looking for products or services. In order to maintain a happy clientele and welcome in potential new consumers, it’s essential that your website be designed, developed and maintained according to current WCAG 2.1 guidelines. These standards include adhering to coding best practices, adjusting the way color is used, font sizes, and more.
A Disability-Friendly Website May Help Your Reputation
It’s no mystery that your brand reputation can improve if your site is accessible to all visitors. Customers will know how valuable they are to your business when they are able to interact with your site or digital property with ease. Brand reputation is a both a precious and fragile thing, so the value of a positive brand impression can never be underestimated. If your site is easy to navigate and follows WCAG guidelines, individuals with a disability who were able to navigate your site with ease will spread the word.
ADA Compliance Can Improve SEO
While the focus of ADA guidlines is creating a fair user experience for those with a disability, several website ADA best practices are also SEO best practices. One key element in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is allowing screen readers to easily crawl website pages, similar to how search engines crawl websites. Additionally, adding image ALT tags is both a best practice for SEO and a key website ADA guideline. And, by having unique meta tags on each page, this also supports both SEO and website ADA conformance.
Creating an Accessible Website Means Overall Better Usability
Following WCAG and making your website accessible isn’t only beneficial for individuals with a disability. Applying basic principles from these guidelines can benefit all users. An accessible page’s message is easier for all to read because of accessible text size and contrast. And, an accessible page’s structure is more logical and consistent making it easier for anyone to find what they want they are looking for. By creating a positive experience for any and all consumers, your business could see more leads and positive press for your brand.
Build or Rebuild Your Next Site to be Compliant
It’s 2020. Gone are the days where accessibility best practices were simply applied to avoid a lawsuit. But if the legal implication is still a primary motivation, know that over 2,000 lawsuits were filed in 2019 for website ADA violations targeting industries from retail and food service to financial services and hospitality. It’s time that website owners stop treating accessibility as a problem that needs to be remediated, and instead an opportunity to turn your website into an easy-to-navigate, inclusive interface. Ready to talk to the certified ADA professionals at ZAG Interactive about your ADA website compliance needs? Contact us online.