Table of Contents
In today’s digital age, e-commerce websites have made shopping more convenient and practical than ever. But as the world increasingly lives online, we must ensure everyone can fully participate in the digital marketplace. That’s why integrating web accessibility has never been more critical for business and society. In this blog, we discuss the importance of breaking down UX barriers in e-commerce websites to bridge the accessibility gap in the shopping experience. We also offer 12 proven tips for making your e-commerce store more inclusive of all users.
Why Inclusivity Matters for E-commerce Stores
Digital accessibility means designing and developing websites and digital content usable and understandable by people with various abilities and disabilities. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has complete guidelines for meeting its universal standards.
Why should this matter for your e-commerce store, and how does it impact your business? In truth, an obligation to equity has broken down barriers in the physical world, but the digital world is playing catch up. Despite the obvious inequity and increase in accessibility-related lawsuits, most websites still aren’t legally compliant. So, digital inclusivity should be top-of-mind for any business, and here are several reasons why:
- Expand Your Customer Base: By making online shopping websites more accessible, businesses can tap into a more extensive customer base. According to the World Health Organization, over a billion people, or about 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. Ignoring this sizable market segment is not only a missed opportunity but may also be seen as discrimination.
- Commit to Regulatory Compliance: Non-compliance can lead to legal issues and penalties. Ensuring accessibility helps businesses avoid legal trouble and fosters a positive image and reputation.
- Enhance Your User Experience: Accessibility features often benefit all users, not just people with disabilities. Features such as straightforward navigation, readable text, and easy-to-use forms can improve the overall user experience for everyone.
- Increase Website Performance: Online shopping platforms that are easier to use tend to have higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction.
- Improve SEO: Search engines, like Google, rank websites based on various factors, including user experience. Accessible websites tend to perform better in search engine rankings. So, investing in digital accessibility can also positively impact your website’s visibility and traffic.
12 Steps for Creating an Accessible E-commerce Website
1. Alt Text for Images
Images on e-commerce websites are essential for showcasing products. Alternative text (alt text) for images enables screen readers to convey the content to visually impaired users, which also helps SEO by improving image search ranking.
2. Keyboard Accessibility
Ensure that your website’s interactive elements and content can be accessed and navigated with only a keyboard for end users who can’t use a mouse or other pointing devices.
3. Readable Text
Use clear and legible fonts with sufficient contrast. Text that’s too small, blurry, or has low contrast can be complex for people with visual impairments to read.
4. Form Accessibility
Ensure online forms are easy to understand and fill out. Use clear labels and provide instructions for users. Errors should be highlighted and explained in plain language.
5. Captions and Transcripts
Provide captions or transcripts for videos or audio, essential for deaf and hard-of-hearing users.
6. Consistent Navigation
Maintain a consistent and logical website structure to help people with cognitive disabilities understand content and navigate more easily.
7. Test with Assistive Technologies
Periodically test your website with assistive technologies to find and fix accessibility violations.
8. Educate Your Team
Ensure your web development and design teams know digital accessibility principles. Training and awareness are critical to successful implementation.
9. Conduct an Accessibility Audit
Hire or consult with experts to perform a comprehensive accessibility audit of your website to help you identify areas that need improvement.
10. Prioritize Accessibility
Create a plan to address the accessibility issues identified in the audit. Prioritize fixing critical problems first and gradually work on improving other aspects.
11. Test Continuously
Regularly test your website with assistive technologies and get feedback from disabled users to help catch and address accessibility issues as they happen.
12. Stay Informed
Keep up with the latest web accessibility guidelines and technologies. Digital accessibility is continually evolving, and staying informed is your responsibility.
Real-World Success Stories
Several e-commerce companies have recognized the importance of digital accessibility and have taken steps to ensure their websites are more inclusive. Here are a few noteworthy examples:
- Amazon: As one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, Amazon has significantly improved digital accessibility. They provide alt text for images, keyboard navigation, and screen reader compatibility, among other features.
- Walmart: Walmart has a dedicated accessibility page that provides information about their website’s commitment to digital accessibility. They offer features like screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, and accessible forms.
- Target: Target’s website is another example of a company that has invested in accessibility. They offer alt text for image keyboard navigation and provide a focus on accessibility in their design and development process.
- WooCommerce accessibility: WooCommerce is a free e-commerce platform for WordPress websites. Concerning digital accessibility, WooCommerce has committed to creating an inclusive web experience, relying on the WordPress platform to meet WCAG 2.0 AA compliance.
Buying Into E-commerce Website Accessibility
E-commerce websites have become an integral part of our daily lives, but it’s essential to ensure that these digital platforms are accessible to everyone. Digital accessibility isn’t just a regulatory commitment—it’s about promoting inclusivity, expanding your customer base, and delivering a better user experience.
By implementing the key elements of digital accessibility and learning from the success of industry leaders, e-commerce businesses can bridge the accessibility gap and make online shopping a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for all. Above all else, it’s an opportunity to create a better online world for everyone.
UserWay: Shop For Digital Accessibility Here
There’s no better candidate for digital accessibility and compliance than an online shopping platform. UserWay answers the call with AI-powered accessibility tools, attorney-driven legal support, accessibility at an enterprise scale, commission-driven partnerships, and more.
Answers to Common FAQs
What are the primary web accessibility considerations?
Four main principles (POUR) define the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. WCAG is universally accepted as the best way to achieve accessibility.
How does accessibility affect sales?
It can positively impact an organization’s brand, as potential customers are prone to choose companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion.
What’s The Business Case for Digital Accessibility?
Prioritizing accessibility not only benefits individuals but also has a significant positive impact on the profitability of businesses.
- Accessibility increases market reach.
- Accessibility drives innovation.
- Accessibility enhances brand image and reputation.
- Accessibility minimizes legal risk.
- Accessibility improves SEO.