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.
The Web Accessibility Guidelines and associated documents published by the The World Wide Web Consortiums (W3C) are a fantastic resource, and recognised as the ‘standard’ reference documents for those building accessible sites.
However, they can be difficult for the beginner to understand, and can seem rather overwhelming in the breadth of issues they cover.
In this tip, I suggest an alternative ‘entry point’ to learning the guidelines; the ‘WAI Web Content Accessibility Curriculum‘, a website created by Chuck Letourneau and Geoff Freed.
On the above site you will find lots of examples and explanations for each checkpoint – plenty of help to get you started.
Now I know that WCAG 2 has been released, but I also know that it is just trying to do the exactly the same job as WCAG 1 – just using a different approach. Making your website accessible is the key point; use whatever set of guidelines you find most helpful in achieving that task; and don’t feel that you are missing something if those guidelines are the WCAG 1 guidelines.
Another resource worth checking out is the WCAG 1 training course I wrote a while back for the Guild of Accessible Website Designers.