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Why you should make your site accessible

kaspera profile image kaspera Originally published at alertdesk.com ・4 min read

When creating websites, it’s easy to think of all users as the same. You often forget that not all users can navigate a website with the same ease as oneself. That’s where accessibility comes into play.

But what is accessibility? As Victor Tsaran, a Technology Program Manager at Google, who also happens to be blind, puts it:

“Accessibility is really about making sure that the content and the websites we create are useable to people with various impairments or abilities.”

- Victor Tsaran, Technology Program Manager at Google

Your mind might automatically jump to a user who has difficulty using a regular keyboard, mouse, or touch screen. That can be one case, yes. But accessibility also covers all from users with ADHD, who has difficulty focusing, to a person trying to read a screen in direct sunlight.

There are many categories when it comes to accessibility concerns, but the four main areas are:

  • Vision (People with limited vision, low vision, or blindness).
  • Motor/dexterity (People who have difficulty or can’t use a mouse / touch screen).
  • Auditory (People who have difficulty hearing or are deaf).
  • Cognitive (People with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, etc.).

You might already be out of breath thinking, “Pew, isn’t that a lot of work for just a few people?”.

Yes. However, all people should be able to access the web, which is why there are also laws & policies for this in place. You can view your country’s law or policy here.

Now, this isn’t all stick and no carrot. The fruit of your labor also benefits users without any impairment or disability.

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What if told that making your site accessible benefits all users. Not only that, but it can also have a direct impact on your conversion rate and your SEO rankings.

Sounds too good to be true? Let me explain.

Say you’re optimizing your content for vision accessibility; what do you do? You make your content easier to digest by:

  • Making sure you have a nice font size for your body text (E.g., 16px).
  • Ensuring that the font is easy to read and is not disturbing (sorry, Comic Sans).
  • Setting a good line-height (E.g., 150%).
  • Leaving plenty of white space between paragraphs.
  • Selecting the correct contrast for your text (light text on a light background is a no-go).

By optimizing your content, you will increase dwell time and reduce bounce rate and pogo sticking, which all are part of Google’s ranking factors.

Don’t think good typography matters? See if you can find an old website from the early 2000s. Back then, the font and font size of choice was 11px Verdana. Try reading this today, and you will properly be rubbing your eyes afterward.

Speaking of old websites, remember when we couldn’t get enough animated gifs, marquee-elements, and cheesy background images? Do you know why this trend eventually died? Because they were distracting.

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I also claimed that making your website more accessible could directly impact your conversion rate. How?

Well, the obvious answer is, of course, that the more users who can actually access and use your site, the more likely a conversion is to happen. But this isn’t what I had in mind. Let’s look at optimizing for cognitive accessibility.

Cognitive accessibility covers many topics but generally speaking, it’s about minimizing distractions.

To minimize distractions, you should find out what your page’s primary goal is and then remove unnecessary elements (“fluff”) that can distract the user from achieving this goal.

To illustrate this, I’ve created my very own eCommerce store, TacoTsunami.com, where I sell an organic all-in-one taco kit.

My main goal? To sell my amazing taco kits! 🌮

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Here’s my current store. It’s not converting all that well. That’s because a lot is going on here:

  • I want to sell my Taco kit (“Add to cart”-button).
  • If they don’t want to buy now, I want them to at least save it for later (“Add to wishlist”-button).
  • I want everyone to know about our new, awesome club! (“CHECK OUT OUR NEW TACO CLUB!”-text)
  • I want them to sign up for our free newsletter (“Sign up for our newsletter”-box)
  • I also want them to like this product on Facebook so all their friends can see it! (The “Like”-button)

That’s five different “calls to action” – on one single page! 😱

It’s messy, and it distracts the users from our real goal – to sell our awesome taco kit.

Now let’s try to remove all the fluff like this:

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There can’t be any doubt about what action we want the user to take. Removing distractions not only makes your site more accessible to people with cognitive impairments but also improves your conversion rate.

As Victor puts it:

“Improving the experience for users with cognitive impairments makes it a so much better experience for everybody else.”

-Victor Tsaran, Technology Program Manager at Google

Agreed, Victor 👍

♿ Use Alertdesk to keep track of your pages’ accessibility

Alertdesk automatically checks your pages’ accessibility daily – both from a Mobile and a Desktop perspective.

Our accessibility reports help you to see what needs fixing on how to do it.

Start tracking your accessibility today with Alertdesk. Try us free for 14 days.

Discussion (6)

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yoursunny profile image
Junxiao Shi

My accessibility solution is providing a phone number so that vision impaired personnel can speak to a live operator, who would read the webpage to them.
dev.to/yoursunny/the-worst-server-...

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kaspera profile image
kaspera Author

Of course! This is going to be the next big thing!

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Pawan Pawar

Good one!

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kaspera profile image
kaspera Author

Thank you!

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Jonas Jason

Nice post! But now I'm craving tacos 🌮🌮🌮

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kaspera profile image
kaspera Author

Tacos are life! 🌮❤️