8 Benefits of Designing and Building an ADA Compliant Website
Since 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA) has ensured that those with disabilities get the same opportunities as everyone else. According to the ADA, any business serving the public must make sure their facilities accommodate disabled individuals. And, now that the Internet is a part of everyday life, ADA compliance requirements have been extended to mobile apps and websites. Essentially, this means that your company’s website design must be accessible to those with physical, vision, and hearing impairments. If you’re unsure whether your site complies with the ADA, or if you’re debating whether it’s worthwhile to bring it into compliance, you can read on for more information that may convince you to do so.
Increasing the Size of Your Target Audience
If your site isn’t yet ADA-compliant, you’re already missing out on thousands of potential buyers who can’t access it because of their disabilities. In the US alone, there are almost 40 million people with some sort of disability. Though many of these individuals may be interested in your offerings, once they get to your website, they might not be able to contact you or make a purchase.
For example, if you’ve got an explainer video with no captions, the deaf and hard-of-hearing won’t know just how great your services and products are. The same applies to images without alternate text, which allows screen reading software to describe images to the blind. Finally, it’s crucial to ensure that the site can be accessed without a trackpad or mouse so those with physical impairments can use it. By making your site ADA-friendly, you’ll get their attention, hold it for an extended period, and keep them from moving on to a competitor’s site.
Improving Your Search Engine Optimization Efforts
More than ever, the search engines are crawling pages with ‘human’ intent. According to the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), screen reader accessibility is crucial, and such readers crawl pages much as the search engines do. If your business site meets the WCAG standard, it will be equally appealing to screen readers, search engines and users alike, which will greatly improve your SEO results. For these reasons, alt text, video transcripts, and meta tagging should be your top considerations.
Opening Up New Demographics For Your Company
By lacking an accessible website, your company may miss out on the change to have disabled people use its services, buy its products, interact with your content, and engage with the brand. As a business owner, it’s crucial to understand that web accessibility is a necessity, not a luxury feature.
Improving Your Reputation
An ADA-compliant website will increase the size of your potential audience, and that’s a big reason to make your site accessible. However, that’s not the only benefit; it will also show those new customers how important they are. After all, most visitors have likely been to some other, non-compliant sites, and once they reach yours, it will be like a breath of fresh air. Once those new buyers recommend your site to family and friends, more people will find out that it’s ADA-compliant. Therefore, ADA compliance is a great reputation-building tool.
A More Usable Website
Creating an operable, easy-to-navigate site will benefit all users while remaining within the WCAG. By making your webpage easier to understand, you’ll allow everyone—disabled or not—to quickly find what they’re looking for. When you follow the WCAG, your site will get more overall conversions because users will learn that they’ll always be able to find the content they want.
Universal, Accessible Design
Web design plays a critical role in accessibility and ADA compliance. When you think of design, you’ll likely think of its visual components. However, we can all benefit from the principles of universal design. While accessible design considers the needs of those with environmental, physical, and mental limitations, universal design extends conventional principles to include everyone. Some of the accessibility benefits of universal design include:
- Less fatigue
- Increased speed
- Fewer errors
- A shallower learning curve
ADA compliance should be seen as a way to bring additional benefits to your company and its customers. By adopting a mindset of accessibility, you can offer all customers a better web experience through great customer service, better SEO, service to the disabled, and the application of best practices in universal design and usability.
Avoiding Legal Troubles
Because the Internet wasn’t widely used in 1990, the ADA did not specifically mention websites. Today, though, most companies have an online presence, and it’s important to make sure your brand is accessible. Since the ruling date has passed, every updated page on your site must be Grade-A compliant; grade AAA is the highest.
Dozens of well-known brands have faced lawsuits in the past few years, even before the WCAG was set. A current ‘safe harbor‘ clause allows existing content to remain unchanged, unless it was modified after 1/18/2018. If you want to avoid the legal hassles and expense of ADA non-compliance, make the right changes to your website right away.
A higher ROI (return on investment) will come from the increase in traffic to your site. If your website is fully ADA-compliant, but your competitors’ aren’t, that’s a key differentiator, and a budget-friendly advantage that provides substantial returns. A compliant, accessible website may help you increase your sales, and disabled individuals tend to be very loyal to companies and sites that make a genuine effort to improve the quality of their lives. Your company’s social media presence may be improved as well, when visitors share favorable reviews. In short, making your site ADA-compliant will give your company another solid, significant revenue stream.
A Final Thought
Although many Americans have difficulty accessing the Internet for various reasons, most of today’s sites don’t meet the mark as far as ADA compliance is concerned. Failure to comply is a risky proposition for your company, because the Department of Justice started enforcing the stricter rules in 2018. Therefore, the time to bring your site into compliance is now. If you’re not sure how to get started, you can get more pointers on the ADA’s website. Alternatively, a web design expert can assess your site’s ADA compliance and recommend areas for improvement.