The reason to make the web accessible is equal access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities. When we talk about accessibility, we tend to look at it from a user experience perspective with questions like:
- How is this going to make it easier for the user?
- How is this going to make it better for vulnerable user groups?
- How can we create a unified experience across all our digital assets?
While the main focus of web accessibility is on access by people with disabilities, today, we’re going to look at some common accessibility requirements, and how they can help an organization from a business perspective as well as an accessibility one.
1. Faster load time
Part of web accessibility is building a site that can work across a broad range of networks. You want a site that can run effectively on the worst possible network that your users might be working on. There is no point in building an incredible interactive web experience if the load time and bandwidth requirements put it beyond the reach of most of your users.
However, load time is essential for businesses as well. The standard now for a page is 2 seconds, and the goal is half a second, with 55% of users abandoning a site if it takes 3 seconds or more to load.
That’s why load time is an essential requirement for the W3 accessibility guidelines.
By meeting accessibility guidelines for things like page size, media file size and compression, and building intuitive navigation that reduces the number of pages needed to complete a task, organizations can boost their overall user experience and help their bottom line at the same time.
2. SEO perks
Accessibility and SEO have more in common than you might think. Just think about their primary objectives. SEO initiatives help get the right information to the right person. Accessibility is about getting the information that the internet access unlocks into the hands of more (and often underserved) people. Both hinge on the user experience, and both require thinking less about how digital asset owners want people to use their products and more about how they do.
Therefore, it is not that surprising that there is so much overlap between accessibility standards and SEO ranking factors. Ranking factors like:
- Website load time: In addition to providing a better experience and higher conversion rate, load time is a ranking factor by Google, prioritizing faster, optimized, and mobile-friendly pages above others.
- Improved user experience: Improved website accessibility usually means a better UX, which will translate into things like reduced bounce rate, better conversions, and more positive data signals flowing back to Google. Collectively, these tell Google that you have a higher-authority site, which will, in turn, improve your SEO.
- Transcripts & alt text: both of these make your site and content more useful for more people. Plus, transcripts and alt text help Google understand what your website it about since they’re more crawlable than a video/image (not to mention an opportunity for more keywords).
3. Future-proof your business
Building accessible is a great way to invest for the long run when you build or renovate your site. By embracing accessibility standards now, you’re much more capable of adopting new changes down the line. And it’s not only accessibility changes. New devices, new languages, new structures, or entirely new technology (e.g. AR / VR) all look to accessibility standards when they’re launching for an early framework of how they should work.
By being accessible now, you can make your organization either:
- Adapt quickly to a rapidly changing digital landscape
- Agile and dynamic, ready to turn quickly without ripping out a lot of existing work.
People so often assume that web accessibility is going to be complicated and expensive with little to no business case to back it up. However, this isn’t the case at all. Accessible websites create a positive user experience for as many users as possible. And when it comes to UX, the ROI and business benefits are clear. Things like faster load times, better rankings, and better allocation of tech investment resource all have clear links to an organization's bottom line. They all just so happen to be fuelled by accessibility.