Accessibility is always a key factor when it comes to website design. But could we be doing more to ensure websites are accessible to all?
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility aims to reduce the barriers that prevent people gaining access to the web, due to factors outside of their control such as; physical disabilities, visual and auditory impairments and socio-economic issues such as low-bandwidth broadband.
Put simply, web accessibility aims to ensure equal access to information for everyone.
Why is it important?
Web accessibility is important for a number of reasons; Firstly, the more accessible your website is, the better it is for everyone. Not only does accessible web design benefit those with impairments and other difficulties, it often helps everyone who visits your site.
Think about mobile users, those using their devices in bright sunlight or on a busy train where they can’t turn their volume up. The easier your website is to navigate in various circumstances, the more likely users are to convert.
Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst examples of website accessibility;
The most accessible websites
According to ToolTester’s recent study on website accessibility, H&M, PayPal and LinkedIn were amongst those who came out on top.
H&M have recently declared their commitment to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The guidelines aim to ensure that those with disabilities and impairments have equal opportunities to the web, as those without. With only 0.38% of the entire H&M website being inaccessible to users, it highlights the positive change the WCAG is encouraging.
The Swedish fashion giant utilises a minimal design to ensure that content does not overwhelm those with neurological limitations, whilst high contrast colours are used to combat the effects of colour-blindness. H&M also ensures their site is optimised for those using screen-readers and includes accurate and informative alt-text that describes images for those with visual impairments.
If we turn to social media, LinkedIn has been named the most inclusive and accessible platform. Catering to the widest variety of needs, the platform allows users to add alt-text to images and documents they upload, in addition to ensuring consistent navigation throughout the platform and a clean layout with minimal distractions.
Not only is accessible web design beneficial for users, it also gives businesses a competitive edge by expanding their market to include users who previously struggled to engage and convert.
The least accessible websites
Amongst the least accessible websites in the study were ASOS, Instagram, Netflix and Shein. The examples below demonstrate the impact of websites that haven’t put accessibility at the forefront of their design.
ToolTester investigated the accessibility of fast-fashion mogul, Shein and found that their site was pretty poor for those who are colour blind with a huge 16% of the site being inaccessible. ASOS came out even worse as the report concluded that a whopping 20% of the site was inaccessible to those with additional needs.
However, since the study ASOS have made improvements to the site and drastically reduced that figure to just 4% – highlighting what can be done in a short space of time!
When it came to accessibility for the visually impaired, the infamous streaming service Netflix, came out pretty badly in the report. Considering that over 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from some sort of visual impairment, this is pretty shocking.
Netflix were found to either have no alt-text at all or include alt-text that was very poor in terms of the level of description, as displayed in the screenshot above. The importance of accurate and informative alt-text can’t be overstated when it comes to catering for the visually-impaired, as they rely on this text to perceive visual information.
How can I improve the accessibility of my website?
If we’ve convinced you of the importance of web-accessibility and you want to get on your way to having an insanely accessible site, ensure you implement;
- High-contrast colours (for text and CTA’s specifically)
- Accurate alt-text descriptions
- A minimal and clean layout
- Consistent navigation
- Screen-reader & voice search compatibility
If you’d like to learn more about improving the accessibility of your website, check out our more detailed tips here!