When launching an e-commerce website, there are several things you need to consider. You must decide what you will do to best showcase your merchandise, how to keep tabs on inventory, which hosting provider you will choose, methods for advertising your storefront, what payment processor you will use and how orders will be fulfilled. One critical element that is usually put on the back burner is website accessibility.

What Happens When Web Accessibility is Overlooked?

Approximately 33 million people in the United States and millions more worldwide are negatively affected when websites are not accessible. People with visual challenges, limited motor ability, hearing impairments and learning troubles are unable to successfully navigate websites, obtain information and make purchases. The aging population is also negatively impacted because abilities deteriorate as people grow older. Just think of all of the revenue that is lost when these individuals are not included as customers. Because you want to maximize on your profits in the best way possible, it is imperative to make accessibility a priority.

Making Accessible e-commerce Websites

To get started, there are six measures you can take to ensure that customers with a variety of challenges can effortlessly and independently use every aspect of your website. Text labels need to be added to all graphics, links and buttons so blind users will be able to effectively and efficiently interact with the site. All elements of your website need to be accessible to individuals using a keyboard because the blind and motor impaired are unable to operate a mouse. Do not only use color coding as a means of conveying information because this will mean absolutely nothing to individuals who are colorblind. You must also add text. For instance, if you are using the colors red and blue to indicate that a feature is positive or negative, you need to also include text that says “positive” and “negative.” Add a blank alt tag to images that are solely used for decoration purposes so screen readers can ignore them. When a blank alt tag is not added to decorative images, screen reading technologies will read out long strings of letters and numbers, causing confusion for individuals who must rely on them. Additionally, you need to break your web pages up into sections using headings to allow for easy navigation for people who are blind and learning impaired. Captions or transcripts need to accompany all audio or video recordings to make information accessible to the hearing impaired.

When you make accessibility part of your website’s design, you make sure your company is not discriminating against any individuals with special needs. In addition, you have the chance to tap into a profit stream that many of your competitors never think to exploit. If you want to make sure your ecommerce site is always accessible, you will need to run it through accessibility validation tools each time you make site changes. The WAVE Web Accessibility Tool is highly recommended and is used by large companies and federal government agencies to spot accessibility problems.
Do keep following our strategies on e-commerce and digital marketing if you you find them useful.

By Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science. Professionally a professor in one of the top B-Schools of Asia and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a regular contributor of Business Fundas and a frequent author in research platforms. He is widely cited as a researcher. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.