Accessible design: the extra edge for conversions

You may have read about creating content for conversions, using proper spelling and grammar and designing for scent of information on this blog earlier, so you should be familiar with the idea of creating websites for the people. Let’s see how accessible design can help you with sales and traffic.

What is accessible design?

Accessibility is about making websites accessible to people with visual or physical disabilities that prevent them from using the sites as efficiently as other people. In a broader sense, accessible design is about making site content easier to understand and use. Mostly, it involves making graphical, audio and video information available in text, using clear, simple language and proper text formatting.

Why accessible design?

In the process of making your site accessible, you make sure you use text over images where possible (navigation buttons are primary target for this one often), make the text readable and use the language your target audience uses. With this, you make the site easily understandable for your visitors, who become more inclined to buy from you. Also, the search engines prefer text over other media as well (though they are making attempts to categorize it, too), so by making your site accessible, you empower your site to get more traffic from the search engines.

Anything else?

Well, apart from simply working for your customers, there is a couple of concerns more about site accessibility:

  • website accessibility is a legal requirement in the US, UK and will be in Europe
  • there is about 10-20% of people with disabilities using the Internet. With an accessible website, you gain more market share easily (most website owners aren’t taking heed about accessibility, for now)
  • Google has launched accessible search, which will enable your accessibility-needing target audience find you easier

Rounding up

When it comes to website accessibility, it is easy to turn your nose away from it. But that’s what only one part of your competition is doing. Another is looking for ways to increase conversions and will sooner or later make their websites accessible. Make your site accessible now, and you’ll not only reap the benefits of getting more targeted traffic and conversions, but an earlier lead ahead of your rivals as well.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

4 comments

  1. Creating accessible sites makes a lot of sense. I know there’s often discussion about how it affects SEO, but I don’t see it discussed in terms of conversions often. It’s important to create accessible sites if only to make it easier for some to browse your site, but anything that helps improve conversions works for me.

    Regardless of how it helps your business it’s an important issue since making your site more accessible benefits everyone who views it, and especially helps those who might be unable to view your site otherwise.

    I would like to see search engine take a stand and add accessiblity issues into the algorithm If they did I’m sure more webmasters would pay attention and we’d see a lot more accessible sites. Google’s accessible search is a good first step, but more can still be done.

  2. Well, simply benefiting from extra traffic (by using clear text labels instead of images or Javascript, for instance) will increase sales.

    As for conversions, accessibility isn’t just about text. It is also about presenting information in an easily digestable way (one of the older WCA Guidelines was to use simple language). Simple language can increase conversions, if you speak the language of your visitors and (also) about them – how they will be better if they use your product.

    Though the last part is more related to marketing than accessibility, this may be deemed as ‘accessible marketing’. How about that for a new marketing/accessibility term :)

  3. I like the new term and I agree accesibility is far more than about text. The more I look into accessibilty the more questions it raises for me like is it easier to access a site that present the navigation fist or would someone who can’t see prefer to have the content first. Which images really need descriptive alt text and which images should just have blank alt text.

    My guess is that different people will have different preferences just as in any other aspect of design.

  4. Yes, I have noticed it too. What WCAG say is just a tip of the iceberg. Accessibility is more like a principle, not a how to guide. Just as any other aspect, I guess.

    I have read that people, who use screen readers, prefer content second, because they need navigation first. And they like the “Skip to content” links, too, when they visit more pages on the same site (and are familiar with the navigation).

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