Accessibility Features Small Biz Strategy Web Design

Why accessible websites lead to better business

close-up of a person holding a smartphone in an outdoor setting

Content accessibility should be a non-negotiable

Have you ever sought out information about a local business, only to find that their website is outdated or near-impossible to navigate from your phone? To say that this can cause frustration is an understatement, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

If we expect to reach people with accurate and compelling information about our business, brand, or organization, we have to make that information accessible to everyone who’s trying to find it. This unfortunately isn’t happening as much as it should be, and here’s why:

  1. A lot of artists and entrepreneurs rely on social media alone to carry their online presence when social media should be an extension of a curated, up-to-date, accessible website. After all, social media is controlled by billionaires (well, technically speaking: algorithms) but your website is controlled by you.
  2. Some businesses have a website, but the site was built by the business owner themselves or by someone else who is not proficient in web design and development, so the user experience is lackluster. The reality is that if you have a website that isn’t compelling and functional, you might as well not have a website at all.
Illustration of a website
When you are considering how you represent your business or brand online, a crucial piece of the puzzle is that your website content needs to meet basic web accessibility standards, just like any other public space needs to have accessible parking spots, entrances, and bathrooms in order to create an inclusive environment for everyone.

If you have no idea what the phrase “web accessibility standards” means, don’t worry – you’re in good company! The concept of web accessibility is new to many but it’s actually been around since (almost) the dawn of the public-facing World Wide Web, and its relevance is arguably more important now than ever.

In short, web accessibility means designing your website and other digital content so that it can be accessed and navigated by all users.

Skilled website designers and developers create with the intention of meeting specific accessibility standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This results in accessible website content, which leads to increased online exposure and – you guessed it – better business. As the W3C states: “Accessibility is good for business.” The video below explains this a bit further.

Accessibility in action

Video Subtitles

One of the most-used web accessibility standards these days is adding subtitles (i.e. closed captions) to a video posted online. This makes it so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have an equal opportunity to access the video content. Plus, some people who do not have hearing differences will also prefer to watch videos with subtitles and audio on, or with subtitles on and audio muted.

You might have noticed that social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok now give you the option to add closed captioning to a video you’re about to post – this is web accessibility in action!

Responsive Websites

Another example of web accessibility is ensuring that a website can be accessed and navigated by users across all types of devices, including laptops, smartphones, and tablets. This is called responsive design because the website is designed to respond to the type of screen that it needs to show up on, making it equally accessible no matter what device you’re using.

Did you know that up to 70 percent of website traffic can come from people using a mobile device? That’s a lot!

When a website is not designed to be responsive, it may work well on a laptop but the site is rendered useless when someone tries to visit it using their iPhone. This creates a barrier to entry for an entire group of people merely because of the device they use. You can imagine how easily these users could to decide to take their attention (and dollars) elsewhere.

All you have to do is start

So, you’ve been introduced to web accessibility. Now what? Well, if you’ve read this post in its entirety, you’ve done a lot more than most people! Now let’s keep the momentum going.

It can feel overwhelming, but there are a number of actionable steps that you can take in order to incorporate web accessibility standards into all your digital marketing and communication practices, and your website is a great place to start.

  1. If you don’t yet have a website, I can build one for you.

  2. If you already have a website and now realize it needs some work in this area, I can help you improve your website design and restructure your content to make it more accessible, starting with a Website Accessibility Audit.

It’s important to keep in mind that when it comes to web accessibility, there is no finish line and the sky’s the limit. Web accessibility standards will continue to evolve as technology advances, and developers and designers will continue to implement strategies that make digital content more accessible to everyone it needs to reach.

Further Reading

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