Jan 16, 2024

How to Improve Your eCommerce Website Accessibility Score.

In today’s digital age, where online shopping has become the norm, it’s crucial to ensure that your eCommerce website is accessible to all users. Unfortunately, only 94% of websites still have issues with basic accessibility. It is not only about reaching a wider audience but also about complying with legal requirements and providing equal access to information and services. In this article, we will explore the importance of website accessibility, the legal implications of inaccessible websites, how to evaluate your current eCommerce website accessibility score, key elements of an accessible eCommerce website, and how to implement accessibility improvements. We will also discuss the importance of maintaining and updating your accessibility score.  

So, let’s dive in and learn how to enhance your eCommerce website’s accessibility score!

Importance of the ECommerce Website Accessibility Score

Website accessibility refers to designing and developing websites in a way that accommodates and caters to individuals with disabilities. It’s not only about making your website readable for users with visual impairments but also about considering other disabilities, such as motor, auditory, and cognitive impairments. By making your eCommerce website accessible, you are ensuring that all users, regardless of their disabilities, can access and interact with your content. This inclusivity reflects positively on your brand, enhances user experience, and boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

When it comes to website accessibility, there are various factors to consider. For users with visual impairments, it’s important to provide alternative text for images, use clear and legible fonts, and ensure proper color contrast. For individuals with motor impairments, it’s crucial to have a website design that is easy to navigate using a keyboard or assistive devices. 

Additionally, for users with auditory impairments, providing captions or transcripts for audio and video content is essential. Lastly, considering individuals with cognitive impairments means creating a website that is easy to understand, with clear instructions and minimal distractions.

The Role of Accessibility in eCommerce

Accessibility plays a vital role in eCommerce as it opens up a world of possibilities for individuals with disabilities. By making your website accessible, you are enabling them to browse products, make purchases, and interact with your platform independently, just like any other user. This not only increases your potential customer base but also promotes a sense of social responsibility and inclusivity, setting you apart from competitors who don’t prioritize accessibility.

Moreover, accessible eCommerce websites provide a seamless shopping experience for all users. For instance, implementing features such as adjustable font sizes and high contrast modes can benefit not only individuals with disabilities but also those who prefer a more personalized browsing experience. By catering to diverse needs, you create a user-friendly environment that encourages repeat visits and boosts conversions.

Legal Implications of Inaccessible Websites

Inaccessible websites can result in legal consequences for eCommerce businesses. Many countries have implemented laws and regulations that require websites to be accessible to all individuals, regardless of their disabilities. Failure to comply with these laws can lead to legal disputes, fines, and damage to your brand’s reputation. Therefore, it’s crucial to prioritize accessibility to ensure you are meeting your legal obligations.

Furthermore, prioritizing website accessibility goes beyond legal requirements. It is a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that everyone has equal access to information and services online. By creating an inclusive online environment, you contribute to a more equitable society and demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

By considering the needs of all users and ensuring equal access to your website, you create a positive user experience, increase customer satisfaction, and comply with legal obligations. So, make accessibility a priority in your web design and development process to reap the benefits it brings.

Evaluating Your Current eCommerce Website Accessibility Score

Before diving into accessibility improvements, it’s essential to evaluate your current eCommerce accessibility score. This evaluation will help you identify areas that need improvement and prioritize your efforts. Fortunately, there are various tools available for measuring website accessibility.

Tools for Measuring Website Accessibility

One popular tool for measuring website accessibility is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG provides a set of guidelines and success criteria for creating accessible websites. You can use the WCAG checklist and various online tools to assess your website’s compliance with these guidelines. These tools will analyze your website’s HTML code, CSS, and other elements to identify accessibility issues.

Interpreting Your eCommerce Website Accessibility Score

Once you have evaluated your website using accessibility measurement tools, you will receive a score or a list of issues that need addressing. It’s important to interpret this data correctly and understand the severity of each accessibility issue. Some issues may be minor and easily fixable, while others require more significant changes to your website’s design and functionality. Prioritizing these issues will help you focus on the most critical improvements first.

Key Elements of an Accessible eCommerce Website

Now that you have evaluated your website’s accessibility score, let’s delve into the key elements that contribute to an accessible eCommerce website. These elements ensure that your website is intuitive, usable, and perceivable by all users, regardless of their disabilities.

Navigational Efficiency and Clarity

A well-designed navigation system is essential for accessibility. It helps users navigate through your website and find the information they need effortlessly. Ensure that your navigation menus are structured logically, labeled clearly, and accessible via keyboard navigation. Additionally, consider providing skip links or landmarks to allow users to bypass repetitive elements and jump directly to the main content.

Text and Background Contrast

Text readability is crucial for users with visual impairments. Make sure the contrast between your text and background is strong enough to ensure readability under different lighting conditions. You can use online tools to check the contrast ratio and adjust your color scheme accordingly. Furthermore, avoid using images as text and provide alternatives for users who rely on screen readers.

Alt Text for Images and Videos

Images and videos play a significant role in eCommerce websites, but they can be inaccessible to individuals with visual impairments. By providing descriptive alternative text (alt text), you can ensure that screen reader users understand the content of your visuals. Each image and video on your website should have alt text that describes the image’s purpose and conveys relevant information to the user.

Implementing Accessibility Improvements

Now that you understand the key elements of an accessible eCommerce website, it’s time to implement the necessary improvements. Improving accessibility may require both small adjustments and more significant changes to your website’s design and functionality.

Prioritizing Accessibility Issues

Start by prioritizing the accessibility issues identified during the evaluation process. Focus on the issues that have the most significant impact on usability and address them first. This approach allows you to make noticeable improvements quickly and ensures that users with disabilities can access essential features and content.

Making Your Website Keyboard-Friendly

Keyboard accessibility is crucial for users with motor impairments who rely on alternative input devices. Ensure that all interactive elements, such as buttons, links, and form fields, are accessible via keyboard navigation. Users should be able to navigate freely and complete tasks without using a mouse. Test your website’s keyboard accessibility by tabbing through the content and ensuring a logical and intuitive focus order.

Ensuring Screen Reader Compatibility

Screen readers are assistive technologies that read aloud the content of web pages for users with visual impairments. To make your website compatible with screen readers, ensure that your HTML is structured correctly, uses proper semantic elements, and incorporates ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes where necessary. ARIA attributes provide additional information to assistive technologies, enabling them to navigate and understand your website more effectively.

Maintaining and Updating you eCommerce Website Accessibility Score

Once you have implemented the necessary accessibility improvements, it’s important to maintain and update your accessibility score regularly. Accessibility standards evolve over time, and technologies advance, so it’s essential to stay up-to-date with these changes.

Regularly Testing to maintain eCommerce Website Accessibility Score

Continue regularly testing your website for accessibility using the tools and methods mentioned earlier. Perform manual checks, conduct user testing with individuals with disabilities, and seek feedback from your users. Regular testing ensures that any new content or design changes maintain accessibility and helps identify issues that may arise during updates or maintenance.

Staying Updated with Accessibility Standards

Stay informed about the latest accessibility standards and guidelines, such as WCAG 2.1 and future versions. These standards provide valuable insights into best practices and accessibility requirements. Join online communities, attend webinars, and follow accessibility experts and organizations to keep yourself updated with the latest trends and advancements in website accessibility.

Incorporating User Feedback for Accessibility Improvements

Listen to your users and their accessibility needs. Encourage them to provide feedback on their experience using your website. User feedback can help identify additional accessibility issues, provide insights into specific requirements, and guide future improvements. Actively incorporating user feedback shows that you value accessibility and are committed to continuously enhancing the usability of your eCommerce website.

In conclusion, improving your eCommerce website’s accessibility score is not just an ethical obligation; it’s a smart business decision. By prioritizing accessibility, you are making your website inclusive, compliant with legal requirements, and user-friendly for all individuals.

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Neeta is the Content & Community lead at AMP. She has over 8 years experience in eCommerce marketing having previously worked for TradeGecko.

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