Have you ever considered whether an accessible website can actually help increase your profits?
Or reduce your expenses?
Is there a solid business case for website accessibility?
Well, several leading internet organizations, tech companies and thought-leaders think there is, and we do too.
Here are some reasons why…
1) Accessibility and SEO (search engine optimization)
SEO is defined as:
the process of getting traffic from the “free”, “organic”, “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.– Searchengineland.com
Few things are better than free exposure for your business to people actively searching for the products and services you offer.
In 2017, Google released Lighthouse, an automated accessibility and SEO tool to help developers improve the quality of web pages. So there’s strong evidence that Google applies a more favorable SEO ranking to accessible websites.
Add to that the fact that SEO standards have now caught up to accessibility standards.
In other words, building your site with SEO in mind most certainly didn’t equal an accessible website. But building your site with accessibility in mind almost always equates to better SEO.
Here’s an example:
SEO versus Accessibility
Old SEO tricks like stuffing your page full of keywords and hiding them by reducing the color contrast (e.g. white text on a white background) used to be good for SEO, but bad for accessibility.
A screen reader (an assistive device used by people with both visual and cognitive impairments to read a web page) can still “see” and read hidden content.
So imagine a blind user having to sit and listen as their screen reader spits out keyword mumbo jumbo that doesn’t make any sense.
Well, Google and other search engines will now penalize your page for using SEO tricks and tactics like that.
But, on the other hand, designing your site with accessibility in mind and including things like using high contrast text and proper descriptions of images and titles in the coding, will be looked at favourably by the search engines.
Higher “organic” search engine rankings allows you to appear at or near the top of search engine results without having to pay for that placement.
This means more potential customers finding your business.
Naturally, maximizing your SEO equals more visitors to your website, and if your site is well-designed to convert visitors to customers, it means increased revenue for your business.
It also means less money spent on paid search engine advertising.
That’s a win for accessibility, and for your pocket.
2) Accessibility and Your Brand
Paul Smyth, Head of Digital Accessibility, Barclays Bank, said,
Accessibility is about more than just disability. It’s about helping everyone to work, bank and live their lives regardless of their age, situation, abilities or circumstances.”
Businesses, such as Barclays, that demonstrate a clear commitment to accessibility can achieve a range of benefits, including:
- enhanced brand image and reputation,
- increased sales and customer loyalty,
- improved workforce diversity
We wrote a post about corporate social responsibility here.
And in that post, we showed that customers prefer to spend their money with brands they like…. brands they believe in… brands that are inclusive… brands that care about social justice.
78% of Americans believe that businesses play a crucial role in helping bring change with social justice issues.
87% will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.
76% will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
Societal shifts point toward growing numbers and greater inclusion of people with disabilities.
So businesses that want to increase sales and positive brand recognition will invest in goods and services for this growing market.
The return on investment is clear.
Showing your customers that you care about inclusivity and social issues is a great way to build your reputation, attract customer loyalty and grow your bottomline.
And, an accessible website is a great way to demonstrate that you care, especially if you highlight it in your marketing and at your physical place of business.
Don’t just make your website accessible, and keep quiet about it.
Let your customers know.
They’ll love you for it, even those without disabilities.
And your pocket will love you too!
3) Accessibility and Reduced Legal Risk
We’ve written extensively on this topic in our ebook: 2019 Website Accessibility Trends: The Rise of Lawsuits and How to Protect Your Business.
Smart business involves more than making more money.
Taking steps to protect your assets and reduce your business’ liability exposure is just as important to being successful in the long-run.
In the 4 years between 2015 and 2018, website accessibility lawsuits have increased by more than 3600%, with companies large and small being sued for not having accessible websites.
This has cost businesses thousands to millions of dollars in fines, legal costs and damages plus the cost to fix their websites.
People with disabilities view access to the web as a fundamental right.
They view it as a means to educate themselves, to communicate with friends, family and associates, to entertain themselves and to improve the overall quality of their lives.
And most people can relate to this, as going just a few hours without technology is hard for most, and excruciatingly painful for the rest.
The courts and the US Department of Justice have agreed that yes, access to the web is a fundamental right, and is therefore governed by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), which states that discrimination on the basis of disability is against the law.
It’s really very simple.
If you website is not accessible (and it most likely isn’t if it wasn’t built with accessibility in mind), your business could be hit with a lawsuit.
Rest assured that the cost to fight or settle a lawsuit will far surpass the cost to make your website accessible today.
So is reduced legal risk is a valid argument for the website accessibility business case?
We think so!
Accessibility and Other Business Benefits
We’ve really only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the business benefits of having an accessible website.
The truth is, there are a myriad of arguments that have been made for accessibility and the positive impact it has on the growth and revenues of a business.
We’ve already covered:
1) Improved SEO through accessibility
2) Enhanced brand, reputation and customer loyalty
3) Reduced legal risk
But, there’s also:
4) Increased market reach, including the aging population
20% of the American population has a disability.
Add to this the aging population of 75 million baby boomers, who may not self-identify as having a disability, but may experience ailments like arthritis and low vision. Both groups benefit from accessible websites.
5) The buying power of persons with disabilities
In the USA, the market value of people with disabilities is nearly half a trillion dollars.
This number more than doubles when you consider that people with disabilities are connected to friends, family members, caregivers, colleagues, and others who purchase goods and services for them.
Also consider the buying power of baby boomers, the wealthiest age group this century.
In 2015, baby boomers controlled 70% of the USA’s disposable income, giving them the biggest spending power of any generation. And, according to a Nielsen report, they stand to inherit $15 trillion in the next 14 years.
Tapping into that combined buying power by making your website accessible is smart business.
6) Driving innovation through accessibility
Solving accessibility issues consistently drives innovations that promote general usability and benefit everyone, such as lower curbs, automatic door openers, and ramps, which everyone finds useful.
This isn’t surprising, as this is what accessibility is all about at its core. The same is true of website accessibility. It drives innovation and benefits all.
7) Reduced costs to develop and maintain your website
Accessible design is quality design. As we’ve touched on, accessibility standards tend to result in better overall usability, better SEO, and just a better product.
Remember, it’s at the core of accessibility: usability and inclusivity for all.
This results in lower costs to develop and maintain, as you’ll be reducing the likelihood of having to fix issues that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Each of the areas we’ve covered in this email could be individually used to justify the business case for website accessibility.
But when taken as a whole, it’s easy to see the collective impact of website accessibility. It’s just smart business.
So yes, website accessibility can help increase your profits.
And yes, it can help reduce your expenses.
But more importantly than all of that, it’s just the right thing to do.