While the customer isn’t always right, that’s no reason why his or her needs shouldn’t always be met. Long-term success for a business requires it. There are several different techniques you can employ to ensure that your customers’ needs are satisfied early and often. One of the easiest and most important is to keep the customers’ journey as smooth as possible via an accessible website.
Customer perception refers to the feelings and thoughts of consumers regarding a brand. It includes customers’ opinions and beliefs about your company. In a world where it has become incredibly difficult to differentiate one product from another, a positive customer perception can help you stand out from the rest.
But what does customer perception have to do with an accessible website? Web accessibility is defined as the practice of designing and developing websites and digital tools that can be used by all, regardless of their limitations or disabilities.
Having an accessible website is a must for any business. Aside from the fact that it is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an accessible website ensures that everyone is able to visit your website, navigate it, and interact with it. Visitors, even those using assistive technologies, should be able to understand what products and services you are offering as well as determine if you can solve their current issue.
An accessible website also provides users with a better user experience. When users have minimal to no barriers while interacting with your website, they will have a more positive impression of your brand. This, in turn, makes you more appealing to them. It also makes them more likely to recommend your brand to others even if they decide not to purchase your product and/or service.
Based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standards, here are some areas of your website that you need to focus on in order to ensure its accessibility:
- Meaningful link texts
Linked text such as “read more” or “click here” are not helpful to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The text does not provide them with any information on where the link will take them once they select it. It also makes it difficult for them to distinguish one link from another.
Meaningful link texts should be able to describe where it is leading the user independent of context. This makes it easier for people using screen readers to navigate the website’s content.
- Accessible PDF documents
It’s not just the HTML content on your website that must be accessible. Web accessibility covers all digital content including emails and documents that you share online. This means that users must be able to easily read and understand the contents of your documents whether they are using assistive technologies, have cognitive impairments, or another disability.
The process during which all of the existing PDF documents are evaluated and repaired according to the standards of accessibility is known as PDF remediation. This involves resolving accessibility issues within the document such as adding a table of contents, alternative text for images, and descriptive headings.
- Descriptive headings
Headings are an important part of the structure of your content. It helps break down your content to more manageable sections of information. Descriptive headings provide users with a clear overview of how the content is organized and what each section contains. It also enables users to easily navigate to the specific content that they want to read, even if they’re using assistive technologies such as a screen reader.
- Consistent navigation
When the interface and layout of your website is consistent, it makes it easier for people to learn how to interact with your website. We all rely on the familiarity of a website’s navigation and functions as we move from one page to the next. When there is inconsistency in the design, it’s not unusual for us to feel frustrated. However, more often than not, we are still able to find what we’re looking for. People with disabilities are not always able to say the same.
Consistent navigation is important because it allows users to be able to navigate through a website using their keyboard. Moreover, repeated components laid out in a similar fashion on each page of a website allows users to predict where they can find information within a page. This is particularly beneficial for users with visual impairments and those who have cognitive limitations or disabilities.
- Colour contrast
There should be enough contrast between the text and the background that people with visual impairments or colour deficiencies are able to easily perceive the content. To check for issues with colour contrast, you will need to use a colour contrast checking tool such as the ones provided in a browser’s developer tools.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standards requires that text and interactive elements should have a minimum colour contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
- Products and services
Your products and/or services are the reason why people are visiting your website. They’re looking for a solution, something that will help them accomplish a goal.
- Responsive design
People access your website through a variety of devices such as a desktop computer, a tablet, and a mobile phone. All of these devices have different screen sizes and viewpoints. Responsive web design allows your content to automatically adapt when viewed from a device with a different screen size.
- Easy navigation
A well-organized website that’s easy to navigate is perceived by consumers as trustworthy. People don’t want to spend a lot of time just figuring out where things are on a website. When they are able to do that quickly and easily – find the solution that will solve their problem, the more credible your business will be in their eyes. If they face any difficulty or start to feel frustrated, they’re more than likely to leave your website and look for another one.
- UI and UX
UI and UX stand for user interface and user experience, respectively. These are aspects of design that play an important role in attracting, engaging, and encouraging visitors to your website to take the desired action (i.e. click that “buy” button). These can help improve your customer’s experience while on your website which will not only retain them as a customer but motivate them to refer you to others as well.
- Response time
Response time is a huge factor when it comes to customer satisfaction. Many people expect to get access to information immediately, especially when they need to get a hold of a company. Customers appreciate real-time interactions which is why many companies have started incorporating chatbots on their website.
- Clear contact information
Customers want to know exactly how they can get in touch with you if they have any questions or encounter any problems. It’s their right. After all, they’re forking over their hard-earned cash in exchange for your product and/or service. Aside from providing your contact information, make sure that it’s easy to find on your website. More importantly, you should offer them multiple ways to get in touch with you. Not everyone prefers the same method of communication.
Creating an unforgettable customer experience from start to finish will help your company become a success. It will improve your customers’ perception of your company and motivate them to tell friends and family about what you’re offering. Web accessibility is an important part of this process. Not just because you want to provide equal access to all, though that’s important too, but when you fix accessibility issues on your site, you are ensuring a better experience for all.
Author Bio: David Gevorkian started Be Accessible because of his passion for website accessibility and ADA compliance. He spent much of his career working for financial institutions creating websites and mobile applications. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. David is an advocate for creating web interfaces usable by all people. He enjoys recording music and playing soccer with friends.