Ecommerce Website Accessibility: Why and How to Improve it
One of the most important aspects of web design is accessibility. However, not all are giving much attention to it. What good would an eye-catching website be if the functionality is compromised? In this light, we would like to highlight the importance of improving accessibility for ecommerce sites, as well as share tips on how this can be done. An ecommerce site’s accessibility is very important as the income opportunities are highly dependent on actions are done on the site itself. Issues on Ecommerce Website Accessibility will have a direct effect on sales.
Improve Ecommerce Website Accessibility to Promote Inclusion
Improving an ecommerce website’s accessibility is not only for ergonomics. The biggest benefit in addressing accessibility issues is to help those with disabilities – and we’re talking about an estimated 57 million Americans and around one billion people worldwide. These people need your help in order for them to fully utilise your site, and that they may enjoy their experience.
The World Wide Web Consortium or W3C has come up with the Web Accessibility Initiative which revolves around the idea that technology, the web included, be usable by all, regardless of age, education, economic status, location, language, and even abilities. Designing for all, or inclusive designing is just one of the ways that we can help the disabled.
The most common disabilities that we should consider when improving the Ecommerce Website Accessibility are the following
Visual disabilities include colour blindness, partial to total blindness, and other problems related to sight.
Some ways to aid people with visual disabilities are offering screen readers and screen magnification tools; optimising your ecommerce site for browsers that are specially designed for the blind; using high-contrast colour schemes; and adding shapes or images to help them distinguish between colours.
We must also consider those who are deaf and those who have hearing loss. Those who have hearing loss may not be able to fully appreciate videos that you will place on your site, while those who were born deaf might not be able to read written texts especially if they communicate via sign language.
In order to help the hearing-impaired, you should consider putting subtitles on videos, and if possible, offering side-language versions of videos.
The accessibility needs of the elderly also need our attention. A huge fraction of the elderly also experiences visual or hearing disabilities, or both, in addition to their special needs such as a decline in memory and motor skills.
In order to help the elderly in accessing your ecommerce site, you should consider putting closer page elements that would be used sequentially. New on-screen information should also be presented gradually. Finally, offer subtle alerts and reminders for action.
Cognitive and Other Physiological Disabilities
The cognitively challenged disabled are also our concern. Have you noticed how large ecommerce companies like Amazon and eBay use simple words to categorise and describe their products? For general ecommerce stores, it is recommended that we use simpler terms in explaining and describing a product.
We should avoid non-literal and non-existent texts in describing our products or services. Aside from the usual industry-based jargons, it is helpful if you redefine your buyer persona to merge their level of understanding to your content.
Enjoy the Benefits of an Inclusive Ecommerce Site
By spending time, effort, and resources in order to come up with an ecommerce site that caters to all types of visitors, you are not only providing an inclusive environment that those with disabilities can enjoy, but you are also opening the doors of opportunity that this sector can provide in return. These people may have disabilities, but this does not hinder them from becoming potential customers. And by helping them, you will be rewarded by loyalty that they cannot give to those who do not consider their needs.
Addressing accessibility issues not only help you get more sales, as well as earn loyalty from disabled visitors but also spare you from consequences that come with taking them for granted. Just last year, Target was sued by the National Federation for the Blind and was order to pay $6-million. This could have been prevented if they have improved the accessibility of their site.
Ecommerce Site Accessibility Tips
We have mentioned a couple of ways to help disabled visitors. Here are some specific ways to improve the accessibility of your ecommerce site:
Time Limits should be removed
Some sites time out due to inactivity. This should be removed (or at least significantly lengthened) so that disabled users won’t have such a hard time for being timed out every now and then. It must be understood that they need more time in doing their online activities than those who are fortunate to not have any disability.
At the top of your page, add a “Skip to Content” link
It is a good idea to include a link that will direct disabled users to content. This way, screen readers may select this and jump directly into the content of the page. Usual pages have navigation elements on top and screen readers would have to translate these first otherwise.
Consider Offering Text Transcript
Aside from subtitling videos, offering a text transcript can really help the hearing-impaired. They would then be able to read at their own pace what would have been said on the video.
Include captions on graphics, especially those whose description doesn’t fit the alt attribute.
Don’t Use Images for Tables
Some websites turn tables into images and this should be avoided. Tools for the disabled would need them to be tables.
Finally, Set an Accessibility Policy
Your accessibility improvement project should not be an optional concern. This should be a policy that should be followed at all times. So that your future web design projects would always cater to the needs of disabled visitors, make sure that you strictly implement an accessibility policy.
Improve Accessibility for a Win-Win Situation
A lot of people face the challenges that disabilities carry. We should do all our best to help them, and not make them suffer more. As you help them, you will also enjoy the benefits, and you will be saved from potential hazards that taking accessibility issues for granted bring.
Whether your business focuses on forklifts parts, premier headphones, hearing aids, or selling clothes online, accessibility is an issue that we need to address. Each of us ecommerce owners should push for a more inclusive Internet.
So act now and start on your ecommerce site’s accessibility improvement project. Having an interactive design adds bonus to the website accessibility which you can achieve using TemplateToaster, a WooCommerce Theme Builder compatible with all CMSs delivering SEO friendly themes to rank you better in search results. The earlier you start, the better!
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