Accessibility and ADA compliance for web content is essential for businesses with web presences. Website content must be written in a way that all users can understand and navigate, regardless of any special abilities or disabilities. With the recent explosion of web traffic from mobile devices, the potential risk of being found non-compliant is even greater-and the penalties associated with non-compliance can be very steep. But accessibility isn’t just a means of avoiding penalties. There are significant advantages to making sure your website is compliant with ADA standards.
In this article, we’ll explore the primary benefits of complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and making your site user-friendly and accessible.
1. Increased Traffic
When it comes to improving traffic to your website, accessibility is a key factor. According to recent research, web users with a disability or special need represent at least 20 percent of the total Internet audience. Even if your business does not explicitly provide goods and services to this population, consider these potential customers who, like any other web user, are looking for information, goods and services. If your site is not ADA-compliant, you risk losing these potential customers.
2. Improved Search Ranking
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential element of any business’s digital marketing strategy. By optimizing your content to be SEO-friendly, you can boost your ranking in search engine results, thereby increasing web traffic and visibility. Recent research by Google shows that developing content for web accessibility can help your SEO rankings by ensuring your site is crawlable and indexable.
3. Increased Conversions
Not just a traffic generator, accessibility also increases the chances of website conversions. In general, a website’s conversion rate reflects the amount of traffic the site generates and how the content entices visitors to become customers or users. By making sure your content is ADA-compliant and easy to navigate, you’re increasing the chances that visitors will convert-i.e., buy a product, sign up for an account, etc. According to WiderFunnel, accessible content can increase conversions by as much as 30-40%.
4. Improved Branding and Reputation
By making your website accessible, you’re conveying a message that your business values diversity, inclusion and social responsibility. Making your content compliant with the ADA not only shows you’re compliant with the law, but also demonstrates your willingness to provide the best service for all users. It’s no wonder, then, that tangible business benefits usually follow when businesses prioritize web accessibility.
5. Improved Usability
When content is written and designed for user accessibility, everyone (including people with disabilities) benefits from easy navigation, clear information and site functionality. ADA-specific programming provides access to persons with specific physical and cognitive disabilities, but its many benefits reach far beyond. Providing user-friendly content not only helps visitors find their way around an unfamiliar website, but it also ensures that people understand and can easily access the content you provide.
6. Reduced Legal Risk
Without question, making sure your website is ADA compliant is a legal must. Websites that don’t meet accessibility standards can lead to litigation, fines and other legal costs. Given the rise in web-related lawsuits in recent years, mitigating such risks should be a priority for all businesses.
7. Social Responsibility
Nobody wants to be seen as “exclusionary” or “discriminatory”, and that’s especially true in today’s increasingly socially conscious environment. By making sure your website is accessible, you’re demonstrating your commitment to “leveling the playing field” and being an inclusive business.
8. Compliance with Mobile Accessibility Standards
Web traffic from mobile devices continues to increase exponentially, with an estimated 80% of web usage coming from users on phones or tablets. The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) has developed web accessibility standards specifically for mobile devices, a key component of which is making sure that all text, images and videos are accessible, regardless of the device being used. By making sure your website is up-to-date with current mobile accessibility standards, you’re making sure that all users will be able to view your content properly.
9. Lower Development Costs
ADA compliance doesn’t have to be expensive. Many of the basic coding processes are relatively simple, and the cost of incorporating such measures into the development process can be very low. Rolling accessibility measures into the site build from the start can help to save time and money down the road.
Ultimately, making sure your website is ADA compliant is essential for any business. Not only is it the right thing to do (the courts are becoming increasingly strict in enforcing web accessibility standards), but there are also significant financial and branding benefits to be enjoyed. Take the time to properly optimize your site for user accessibility and you’ll reap the rewards of improved traffic, conversions and brand image.