Online shopping makes it possible for anyone to browse different products and purchase at their leisure. Generally, the shopping process and experience is different for anyone, considering we all have different habits, preferences, and tastes. However, for some people, online shopping can be quite tough.
Some internet shoppers might have to depend on screen readers to browse and access websites. And some people might be utilizing a keyboard to navigate websites due to temporary or permanent disability.
In fact, in the United States only, nearly 54% of all disabled adults utilize the Internet every day which means you have to make sure your store is accessible for everybody, regardless of their conditions and status.
In this article, we’ll cover what accessibility is and share some advice and steps you must take as an online store owner to make sure your ecommerce store complies with accessibility guidelines.
What Is Ecommerce Accessibility?
Ecommerce accessibility simply means people with disabilities can access, and utilize the web without any challenges.
Not only does it refer to physical disabilities such as auditory, cognitive, visual, or other permanent disabilities, it additionally includes temporary disabilities due to aging or outside forces such as a slow internet connection.
Why It Matters
The most significant reason why accessibility matters are that you have no control over who visits and interacts with your store. If your store doesn’t adhere to the accessibility guidelines, you could find yourself in court and are liable to pay significant fines.
On top of this, web accessibility is one of our basic human rights and it has a huge impact on your business. If your online store is accessible, it’s likewise optimized to offer all users with the most ideal user experience which then translates into better customer satisfaction, more revenue, and increased brand loyalty.
Finally, the last reason why accessibility matters are because adhering to accessibility guidelines means your store follows the recommended coding standards and uses semantic markup. This contributes to a better rank in the search engine which means you can get more organic traffic.
How to Check for Online Store Accessibility
Before diving into particular tips on making sure your online store is accessible, the first step is to see if your store is accessible or not. Here are a couple of ways to test what you have.
- Visit your online store and go through the purchase process as if though you have a disability such as color blindness or have to rely on your keyboard to navigate around it and through the checkout process.
- Utilize a service such as WAVE Web Accessibility Tool to see potential problems, warnings, and errors for your site. This free tool will let you know if you have errors like buttons and empty links, low contrast between the background and the text, and so on.
- Get feedback from real users by using a service such as UserTesting.com. This will allow you to get objective feedback which you can then use to improve customer and user experience.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) introduces 4 principles for web content and design. They state that for a website/store to be “accessible”, it must be:
- Perceivable — This principle includes guidelines such as giving text alternatives for non-text content. For instance, you need to have “alt text” for product images to accommodate for vision-impaired or blind visitors.
- Operable — This principle says you should ensure your site can be effectively used by all people. For example, a user ought to be able to reasonably navigate your site using only their keyboard.
- Understandable — This principle demonstrates that your site ought to be rendered in such a way that things like the language utilized can be programmatically chosen. It also suggests that a site should behave predictably. For example, merely changing focus on a part of a page doesn’t cause unexpected changes to the content.
- Robust — As per this principle, content must be implemented in a way that it can understand reliably by assistive technologies.