Some people have acquired a profitable website from a broker or Flippa and had no idea that it provides a lousy experience with accessibility. Because buyers are focused on earnings from ad revenue and affiliate sales, they’re not typically thinking about the site design or how easy the site is to use. Similarly, companies may have an in-house web team or use an outside web developer to create and update their site. The degree of being hands-off has meant that they assumed the developer or design team had everything well in hand. But maybe accessibility was overlooked by all until now?
To better understand improving user experience and how it reflects on accessibility concerns with websites, we cover the most salient points on the subject.
Mobile vs. Desktop: How Web Changes Are Illustrative
In the last handful of years, more people have begun using their smartphones to access the web. The use of desktop or laptop PCs at home has declined significantly (as have the sales too). Now website owners are typically seeing 60-80% of visitors originating from cell phones and the occasional tablet too.
Due to this, accessibility for mobile devices became an issue. Sites previously designed for desktop or tablet use didn’t load quickly or look right on a smaller, narrow device. So, web designs needed to evolve to an adaptable design-construct produced to deliver a friendly version that looks and works well on a mobile device.
Essentially, the web world adjusted to the need to provide mobile-friendly websites. And now it must do the same for accessibility to ensure sites are usable for anyone with a disability.
Why Website Usability Matters for User Experience
Just as websites needed to be adjusted to be usable on a smaller device, so they must also now be made usable for people with disabilities. It has often been an oversight that can no longer be tolerated. For example, people with failing vision find using websites difficult. Even with a larger screen, the text can be too small or difficult to differentiate from a ‘busy’ background. Colors can clash making the site hard to use for someone with vision problems.
To address this, an option for a high contrast feature to swap the colors over solves many problems. For instance, plugins like the one from accessiBe offer this feature on sites using WordPress, so visitors with vision challenges can see what they’re doing.
Making a Site More Accessible is Inclusionary
The web provides access to essential services, useful information, and a wealth of new opportunities. This is why governments have been behind pushing internet providers to offer affordable, faster access and encourage the early wiring of fiber optic cables in every street.
When a website visitor cannot see the photo added to an article and there’s no description about what it is, they’re missing out. The web experience for them is less rich than it should be. Adding an alt tag that provides a novel-like description of the image allows them to “see it,” even if they’re blind or partially sighted.
Being inclusionary with websites is the right thing to do. It’s inexpensive to fix and provides open access to all types of visitors. Conveniently, it stays within the boundaries of disability laws and web guidelines relating to accessibility too. So, it’s a win-win across the board.