How accessibility in UI design improves usability for everyone

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How accessibility in UI design improves usability for everyone

Businesses need websites. 

The nature of today’s world requires businesses to use websites. Regardless of the product or services being offered, even brick and mortar businesses need a web presence these days. Businesses website benefits include increased reach to potential customers, customer retention, cost effective advertising, a potential for additional revenue streams, and – of particular importance – simple legitimacy. A healthy online presence legitimizes a business.

What is UI accessibility and why does it matter?

Here’s a pretty simple definition for User Interface accessibility: websites and technological tools that are navigable by people with disabilities. Disabilities, in this sense, include those with auditory, speech, physical, visual, neurological, or cognitive limitations. An accessible internet helps those with disabilities participate in society. Beyond that, it’s simply a wise business decision that can start with web accessibility testing.

What is the WCAG and why is it important?

As part of a Web Accessibility Initiative, the World Wide Web Consortium publishes a series of accessibility guidelines. This series includes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The World Wide Web Consortium sets the international standards organization for the internet. While federal agencies and their contractors must adhere to WCAG guidelines, businesses are not necessarily obligated to adhere to them – but they must have accessible websites. This usually means adhering to the WCAG as it’s related to the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can find more information about that here. Beyond that, making your website accessible should be considered a sound investment, for a variety of reasons. 

Implementing accessible design will save you money in the long run.

Usability, customer retention, and the ability to meet the demands of a varied customer base should be key goals for any business’s website. By not designing a site with these things in mind, businesses close themselves off to significant revenue streams.To make the most money, you want to create a site that can be used by everyone. Regardless of the type of business you’re in – as broad or as niche-specific as it may be – you should keep in mind that people with disabilities are potential customers, and tailor your website accordingly with web accessibility testing. Approximately one in five Americans live with a disability. There are the blind and visually impaired, deaf and hearing impaired, people with limited mobility or speech, and a host of other disabilities. These are all folks that could be using your product or paying for the services your company offers. 

If a disabled person cannot navigate your website or purchase an item because of accessibility, they will take their business elsewhere. Wouldn’t you? This is one way – not to mention the potential litigation involved – that shows there are real world, bottom dollar consequences for inaccessibility. 

Whether starting from scratch or updating something existing, accessibility isn’t impossible

With over 800 federal lawsuits filed in 2017 regarding web accessibility, including numerous class action suits, it should be an easy decision for businesses. Lost revenue and potential litigation alone should showcase the need for accessibility. But beyond that, there are clear indications that accessible design isn’t just something to be wielded as a threat. Studies show that 1 billion people worldwide have some kind of disability, with a combined spending power of over $6 trillion.  

If you’re building a website from scratch, accessibility shouldn’t terribly affect your bottom line. Designers should just build the site with accessibility guidelines in mind. Updating an existing site offers more of a challenge, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Given the numerous motivating factors, particularly that of significant and varied income streams, accessibility should be used for any business website. 

If you’d like assistance testing your website's accessibility and developing accessible UI web design solutions, reach out to Outlook Business Solutions. Our professionals can test website accessibility and design and implement accessible web solutions for your business, regardless of size or product. Contact us to learn more about our design services.