Web Accessibility: What It Is And How It Impacts Your Franchise




According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), web accessibility means that websites, tools and technologies are designed and developed so that people with or without disabilities can use them. As a franchise system, it is important to be aware of this and the risks it poses to your business.

Hearing impaired man working with laptop and mobile phone at home or office

Here’s a question to ask yourself: Have you ever thought of your website needing a wheelchair ramp? Most people will say no because it doesn’t make sense, but the truth is that there are many people on the web who have similar disabilities. If your website is not accessible, you’re at the same risk as if you didn’t have a wheelchair ramp or accessible doors at your business.

Web accessibility is required by law in many situations. Losing out on business from a consumer leaving your site is one thing, but being faced with a lawsuit is another. Businesses are being targeted specifically for their site not being accessible so it’s best to fix any problems as soon as possible. W3C develops these international standards for the Web, HTML, CSS and more and have many resources on their website www.w3.org. Some free resources to check if your site is accessible are https://wave.webaim.org/ and https://achecker.ca

Although this article is not meant to be an exact guide, or definitive answer to avoid legal ramifications, these tips are a great place to start for any franchise system who is concerned about this topic.

How To Make A Site Accessible

  • Video Captions – Video isn’t just about pictures, it’s about sound. Captions make videos accessible for those who have hearing disabilities.
  • Colors With Good Contrast – Good design is crucial. Poor contrast makes viewing the content on your site difficult. Content includes any text, images, links, icons and buttons. If it’s important enough to be seen, it needs to be clear. This is crucial for people with low contrast sensitivity which is common as we age.
  • Voice Recognition – Many people rely on voice recognition for searching the web, dictating emails, controlling a navigation app and more. In order to have voice recognition, your site needs to be properly coded. This helps people with injured arms, repetitive stress injury and more.
  • Text-To-Speech – Text-to-speech is important for people who are blind, have dyslexia, have trouble reading or simply like to multi-task. Similar to voice recognition, the coding makes this possible.
  • Clear Layout & Design – A good design involves a good layout. It is important that the user is having the best experience on your site. To achieve a good user experience, a site must have clear headings, navigation bars and consistent styling. A complex layout makes finding information difficult or impossible for people with visual disabilities. People with cognitive and learning disabilities require clarity and consistency in design. It’s important to note that not everyone is confident working on computers and a clear layout design is one way to help.
  • Notifications and Feedback – People are easily confused without clear notifications and feedback. Error messages are complex and confusing for the consumer. Make sure your notifications are easily understandable so that people with cognitive and learning disabilities are not frustrated.
  • Large Links, Buttons & Controls – People with reduced dexterity have trouble with trying to hit a small target. Links, buttons and controls should be larger on your website to minimize the amount of effort needed.
  • Customizable Text – This is crucial for people with low vision and dyslexia. Your site’s text should be able to customize the size, spacing, font and colors without a loss of clarity or functionality.
  • Understandable Content – It is unappealing to read complex language such as jargon or unexplained acronyms. Non-native speakers and people with cognitive and learning disabilities are impacted by this.
  • Keyboard Compatibility – Whether preference or circumstance, many people only use the keyboard to navigate websites. A person this impacts might have a temporary limited mobility, permanent physical mobility or simply a broken mouse.

As you can see, there are many different ways on how to make a website accessible. However, there has to be a balance with customer satisfaction and user experience. The user experience of your website will determine how satisfied they actually are. Afterall, a happy customer has a higher chance of purchasing your services, thus creating a higher conversion rate for your business’s digital marketing efforts. Here is some guidance on what to think about when it comes to customer satisfaction and user experience.

Customer Satisfaction

We all want happy customers for many different reasons. However, a happy customer must have a good experience with you first. With face-to-face interaction, it’s much easier to be gracious and help your customer with any problems or questions they may have. On the web, it’s a different story. Your website functions as a digital version of your best salesperson, but with limited capabilities. When a consumer has a problem accessing your site, they are more likely to move on to another business then spend the time trying to figure out your site.

User Experience

People like choices. Some people prefer texting over calling, similar to how some people prefer text-to-speech over reading. Other people require text-to-speech, such as those who have trouble reading, have dyslexia or are blind. It’s important that your user is able to have the best experience possible, and utilizing web accessibility is a way to achieve that.

Summary

W3C states on their website that accessibility overlaps with other best business practices such as mobile web design, device independence, multimodal interaction, usability, design for older users and search engine optimization. Websites could have the ability to rank higher on search engine pages with a web accessible site. Along with the better search results, having an accessible site reduces maintenance costs and increases your audience reach. If you do not have control over your website, make the call now to see what your vendor is doing to make sure your business is not exposed to liabilities and lawsuits.