Cassandra Brighter· Author
What if I told you that you might be unknowingly preventing 26% of your potential web visitors from using your site? And what if I told you the demographics holding over half of the buying power are the ones likely to experience usability problems?
Try to imagine a user experience. You land on an ecommerce website with full intent to make a purchase, and the money to spend. You click on a product page, but none of the images display. There is a video that explains the product, but it does not load. And even if that does not deter you, you find yourself unable to navigate the page well enough to click the “Add to Cart” button. What would be your emotional reaction? What are your sentiments about that brand?
You’re probably thinking this couldn’t possibly happen on your site. After all, you conduct usability studies. Your development team ensures all buttons are visible, all images load, and the video plays as intended, not even showing a lag. You might be thinking, “my website is perfectly usable.” Chances are, for one quarter of the population, that is not the case.
The images might be loading correctly, but the Alt text might be vague (“Shirt,” or “Yellow shirt”), or it might be leveraged for SEO purposes only (“Men’s yellow shirt brand name”), or it might be missing altogether. For a blind person, that’s not enough information to make an informed purchase.
The video might load and play correctly, but absent subtitles, a deaf person would not be able to access the content. Maybe the color difference between inactive and hover states is not detectable for a colorblind person. Maybe the font is too small for a person with poor vision. Maybe the page interaction is only possible with a mouse – and people with motor challenges rely on keyboard-only navigation. The potential issues that could be making your website impossible to navigate are numerous and varied.
People with disabilities are not a small minority. Over 26% of Americans live with some form of disability. This translates to one in four users on your site. Additionally, accessibility issues affect all sorts of people due to temporary circumstances – an injury, a pregnancy, multitasking, etc.
If we think about spending power, over half of the wealth in America is held by Baby Boomers and their parents – the so-called Silent Generation. These generations are the most likely to experience motor, vision or hearing limitations, cognitive issues and other challenges. And also the most likely to have the spending power to make purchases on your site.
The Invisible Challenge
The challenge is that the issues that affect these demographics are often invisible to web owners and their web developer teams. Years ago I belonged to a community organization. I walked in and out of the building for many months – over a year, without a care in the world. And then a new community member – a carpenter – took it upon himself to build a ramp to clear the two steps in front of the front door. Two steps I never gave any thought to. Two steps that prevented any person on a wheelchair from accessing the building. What this carpenter was able to do was look at that entrance from the perspective of a person with disabilities. Additionally, through his work as a contractor, he was able to look at that entrance with the perspective of compliance to building codes. A perspective and empathy that the rest of us were lacking. The problem was invisible to us.
Talking about compliance – the number of lawsuits over web accessibility has been steadily climbing for a decade. These lawsuits are not small – Netflix recently settled a two-year class-action lawsuit brought by the National Association for the Deaf (NAD). The number of such lawsuits in the U.S. was over 10 per day in 2021, a 15% increase from 2020, according to a year-end analysis from UsableNet Inc., a web accessibility technology provider. In total, the research found, U.S. plaintiffs filed 4,055 web accessibility lawsuits in 2021, up from 3,503 in 2020.
The Visible Solution
The solution is to address your site’s accessibility issues. And there is a wrong way and a right way to do this. One key part of the right way to do it is to collect user feedback directly from your shoppers. User feedback is exactly what Bizrate Insights Voice of Consumer solutions brings to the table.
Another key part is to ensure that actual folks with disabilities navigate your site and provide their feedback. There is a wonderful expression born of activism – “Nothing about us without us.” Any solution that doesn’t include the voices of those affected is likely to be the wrong solution. In our recent webinar, we interviewed Timothy Cornelius, of P3 Technology – a web content accessibility expert whose company specializes in facilitating this inclusion and leading web accessibility retrofits.
Watch our recent accessibility webinar here.
Until you’re able to devote resources and budget to a retrofit, a great interim solution is to add an accessibility layer such as the one provided by AccessiBe.
The wonderful news is that addressing your website’s accessibility challenges inevitably results in a boost to your revenue. According to a report by Accenture, businesses who focus on accessibility enjoy 28% more revenue, two times more net income and a 30% improved performance in profit margins over other businesses.
We recently wrote a detailed guide to web content accessibility. In it, we give more context to the challenges, and provide a clear path for conducting both a site audit and a site accessibility retrofit. We encourage you to download this free guide today.