Just a quick follow up from my New Year Newsletter in which I gently encouraged you to think about your website and online marketing strategy. One area I mentioned in my newsletter was website accessibility. As I am sure you already know, it is considered a form of discrimination if disabled people are not able to access website content (the Equalities Act 2010). So with that in mind I thought I’d take the opportunity to look at the benefits of accessible website design from a slightly different perspective, i.e. the business case.
The business case for accessible website design
In September last year I spoke at the Accessibility Scotland conference and an audience member asked whether there was a ‘cast iron’ business case for making a website accessible? They were having trouble trying to get their managers to prioritise accessibility or put any resources into ensuring the website was accessible to disabled people.
‘Off the top of my head’ I could not remember any statistics to quote, though I did mention the usual stuff about a more accessible site generating more traffic, being easier to use and having reduced maintenance costs.
However, it seems that these logical arguments do not ‘cut any ice’ when it comes to making the case; what people want are facts, figures and case studies showing increased traffic and increased sales.
So with that in mind here are three major case studies showing the benefits of accessible website design in real terms.
- CNET: there was a 30% increase in traffic from Google after CNET started providing transcripts (reported AST(.ppt) “We saw a significant increase in SEO referrals when we launched an HTML version of our site, the major component of which was our transcripts.” – Justin Eckhouse, CNET, 2009.
- Legal & General Group: visitor numbers doubled, maintenance costs were cut by two thirds, natural search traffic increased by 50%. .
- Tesco: ‘the site now attracts a much wider audience, spending £13 million a year, which is a fraction of the original cost of £35,000 to develop the accessible site’ (John Browett, Tesco Chief Executive). Read the Tesco case study. (2004, UK).
These case studies clearly show that an accessible website design reduces maintenance costs, increases usability and increases traffic. In short, accessible website design is good for your business.
Web Accessibility Auditing Service :
Even if you are not planning a brand new website from scratch I can help you realise some of the benefits outlined above by making your existing website more accessible. The first step in that process is to have your website audited to see if there are any aspects that are inaccessible to disabled peoples. You will then be in a position to have those issues addressed; thus increasing the accessibility and usability of your website.
As an website accessibility auditor since 1996 I am one of the most experienced and skilled practitioners in the UK. I will check your site against the WCAG 2.0 guidelines to ensure that your site is compliant with the BS8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice.
An audit by myself goes way beyond tick box checks; I will check that your site is accessible and usable to the real people who visit your site.
Contact me today to take advantage of this unique expertise to utilise my expertise to attract more visitors to your website and make it easier to use by everyone. No matter what your budget or how big or small your website is I will be able to provide an audit that fits with your needs.
Take advantage of my unique live on-site website accessibility auditing service
In addition to the traditional formal web accessibility audits I provide a unique ‘live’ audit carried out on-site with your web development team and web editors.
The process involves assessing the website(s) against the W3C WCAG 2 checkpoints – in an informal group environment. This allows discussion, instant clarification of points made, and means questions can be asked related to access issues as they arise.
I was and the first to offer this unique service. Few website accessibility auditors have the confidence, knowledge and experience to be able to offer this type of ‘live’ on-site audit.
Benefits of a live on-site access audit
- Saves you an enormous amount of time, as feedback is instant. You get instant feedback on any access issues found on your site.
- You get the right people motivated and involved. A traditional report may sit on a shelf and never be read by website developers or web editors; the motivation to read the report can be low (as often the developers themselves did not commission the audit) and often recommendations are not put into practice.
Contact me now to ask about your live on-site web accessibility audit. It will save you time, save you money and give you the knowledge to reach your largest potential online audience.
What have you got to lose if your website is not accessible?
Visitors and potential customers
Millions of disabled people across the world have billions of pounds to spend (£50 billion in the UK alone).
40 percent of the UK population are 45+ ; eyesight, hearing and dexterity all tend to deteriorate as we get older – but older people have money to spend; perhaps on your website if it is accessible.
If you provide a service via the web and your site is not accessible to disabled people you are breaking the law and running the risk of damaging your business reputation.
What are the advantages of having an access audit carried out on your Website?
The audit will highlight access problems with your Website and produce a list of recommended changes. These changes if taken ‘on-board’ will produce advantages:
- Your Website will work on more Internet connected devices and Web browsers.
- You will have more potential customers for your service or content.
- You are less likely to fall foul of the UK Equality Act 2010.
- Your support costs will be lower (certainly less people will e-mail you to tell you about the bits that don’t work). Accessible, standards based websites are easier to maintain and change.
- Accessible Websites also tend to be easier to use – leading to a more positive user experience.
- You will avoid potentially damaging legal claims from users unable to use your site for a reason related to their impairment.
Jim Byrne contributed to the Scottish Enterprise ‘Smart Guide’ on Web Accessibility – the guide outlined some of the advantages for businesses:
- If you’re in e-commerce, that means more sales;
- If you sell advertising, it means more hits;
- If your aim is to cut costs on public enquiries, it means fewer sales
staff and overheads;
- If you use the Web to recruit staff, it means more applicants;
- If your purpose is to provide public services, it means minimising
“The net effect of all these potential benefits is by no means trivial. The overall cost-benefit of addressing accessibility is almost always significant, and often dramatic. Conversely, the costs of not taking it seriously can be equally important, as some firms have already found out to their cost.”
Will the look of my site have to change?
Making your Website accessible is about ensuring that all of your visitors can access the information and resources on your site – not about changing the look of your site. If there are features of your current site that are inaccessible to a particular groups of visitors – an access audit will point these out but that does not mean you must do away with these features. Instead it will recommend alternative ways to ensure that those excluded can access the same information or service.
Having said that, the audit may recommend changes related to colour contrast, your navigation scheme or readability that you may feel are worth adopting – because they will help you to attract more visitors to your site.
What exactly is an Access Audit?
An access audit matches your site against the World Wide Web Consortiums Web Accessibility Guidelines. Use of these guidelines will be combined with almost a decade of experience building and accessible Websites. Depending on the size and complexity of your site and the service commissioned from myself, the result can be a report of anywhere between 30 to 50 pages long which will include a short list of the most important changes needed, a complete discussion of each of the access problems, and a summary list of all of the recommended changes. In addition there is a discussion document to help you get started down the road to making the changes required.
What standard will my Website be tested against?
The World Wide Web Consortiums Web Accessibility Initiative (http://www.w3c.org) have produced a set of standards that are recognised as the definitive authority on the subject of Accessible Web design. I will test your website gains WCAG 2 to the agreed level.
Is it just about making my site accessible to disabled people?
No, accessibility on the Web is a much broader idea. There are now many different devices attached to the Web, for example, Televisions, Personal Digital Assistants, PCs, Macs, Telephones and Braille readers, to name just a few. Accessibility is about ensuring that all Internet connected devices are capable of accessing your service or information. This of course includes the assistive devices used by disabled people, like text only Web browsers or Web browsers that use synthesized speech.