Speaking plainly: The value of accessibility on your company website

There’s no denying that 2020 was a tough year for businesses. Between keeping customers happy, staff employed and the lights on, it's understandable that areas such as accessibility, user experience (UX), and design haven't been a priority. While the lockdown roadmap is well underway, customers will continue to access information, products and services online more than ever. This is particularly true for the older generation of consumers, who are now more comfortable with browsing and shopping online than ever before.

Why accessibility? 

Believe it or not, accessibility is a global issue and not something limited to small businesses. Even big brands, such as Nike and Domino’s, have overlooked this area, resulting in legal action taken. With 98% of websites not meeting the accessibility and UX guidelines, according to Web Accessibility in Mind, companies that do invest in their site will stand out from the crowd. 

It’s not just a case of preference anymore either. The UK Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018 has made accessibility a requirement. While this regulation only applies to the public sector, it’s a clear sign that making a company accessible online is a growing focus. 

Spotting common mistakes

There are no two ways about it – businesses need to prioritise online accessibility, user experience (UX), and design. With the UK’s average reading age at nine years old, it's easy to find yourself talking over your audience. Avoiding this is critical in ensuring your website is as inclusive as possible. 

It’s natural to overcomplicate the description of your offering and product online in the hope of impressing users. But more often than not, using a lot of corporate jargon ends up excluding most people. Even if it feels strange at first, using everyday language can make even the most complex product accessible. 

But it goes beyond literacy skills. With all companies catering to such a diverse audience, it’s important to cater to everyone visiting your website. Like an international organisation may have their web page change to the local language, your business should make sure other groups - such as those with visual impairments - can engage with the site. 

Keeping  up to date

Making sure your website is suitable for all users can seem like a big task.  When you factor in the need to refresh the site with regular updates, it can seem impossible. But it’s important to remember that you do not need to do this alone. 

Keeping your website up to date is not like taking an exam. You can call in outside help and get support from your team and even technology to make the job easier. Regardless of what help you choose, the process remains the same. Being sure to scan the website for compliance and to improve readability should be an ongoing practice in the business. Analysing everything from sentence-length to jargon, reading age and even broken links will make sure your website is as accessible as possible. 

As businesses return to a new sense of normal, they need to recognise how they can make life easier for their customers. More often than not, the website is the first port-of-call for users. Making sure this entry point is as good as it can be will keep the company compliant and increase engagement from users, ultimately driving sales and revenue. 

Discover more

Hear more from Ryan in our podcast 'Digital Inclusion: A journey through time'. In the podcast Ryan delves into the past, present and future of digital access and inclusion.