What if I could share with you a way to both do good and make money? If you’re like me, your ears would perk up. And if your ears are perked up, this article is for you.
First, let me bring you up to speed: this post is the last in a series on web accessibility. We’ve gone from broadly framing what web accessibility is and then getting down into some specifics, like:
- how you can grade your site,
- why accessibility is a legal issue,
- how to improve your site’s accessibility in 5 minutes, and
- which accessible WordPress plugins and themes you can use to give your site a head start.
The goal for this discussion is to take away the intimidation factor of such a big topic and show you practical steps for participating in the web accessibility initiative.
We’ve talked about the whys and hows — today we’re making the business case for web accessibility.
How can web accessibility improve my business?
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with accessibility and know what to look for, following good practices is second nature. Until then, there’s a learning curve, and you know what learning curves mean…fewer billable hours!
So how do you convince your boss, your client, or even yourself that the learning curve is worth the investment? You’re in luck, because in this post, I’ll outline some concrete ways that good ‘ole WordPress accessibility is better for your wallet in the long run.4 ways web accessibility can positively impact your bottom line. Click To Tweet
1. Increases Site Visibility with Search Engines
Fun fact: What’s good for accessibility, is great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google* is a machine. It has no eyes, it has no ears, it is not impressed with your design. When things stand in the way of search engines reading your awesome content, it’s the technological equivalent of telling Google to eff off.Woe to him who tells Google to eff off. Click To Tweet
When you do little things here and there to make your content more accessible, it’s like inviting Google in for a lovely cup of tea. The more inviting you are, the more of your home on the web Google will “see.”
*I use Google as an example because 1) it’s undeniably the most popular, and 2) I don’t think people still use Altavista.
2. Increases Site Usage
This one naturally follows on the heels of the previous example: The better your site gets indexed by search engines, the more people see your links, and the more people will click those links.
Honestly, it’s a numbers game. I’m not saying that accessibility is game (at all!), but ignoring the trends and following tried and true SEO methods will net you bigger numbers, and no one can argue that 2% of clicks is better when you have a million impressions than a thousand impressions.
3. Increases Positive Image
Do you want to be that schmuck who doesn’t hold the door open for Grandma with her walker? Of course you don’t.
Creating a website that welcomes everyone, regardless of how they access your site, is a good thing for your brand. Web accessibility is a social issue and it’s not going away. Even for folks without disability, being known for “doing the right thing” is good for brand strength, no?
If you’re building a business that you want to have staying power, hang your hat on doing things well, including (though certainly not limited to) accessibility.
4. Decreases Potential for Legal Expenses
Speaking of a positive image (or lack thereof)… in 2005 the Target Corporation was caught up in a huge legal kerfuffle over web accessibility. A decade later, they’ve turned that around into a public — and quite whole-hearted — commitment to accessibility.
Whether you’re using assistive technologies like a screen reader, a magnifier, voice recognition software, or switch technology, our mission is to make Target your preferred shopping destination in all channels by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and experiences that fulfill our Expect More. Pay Less.® brand promise. – Target website
Now, that’s a great success story, but do you know how many millions Target spent in legal fees before their commitment to accessibility? It’s more than I’ll ever make in a lifetime (barring a ridiculous explosion of sales on my accessible WordPress theme).
Be ahead of the curve when it comes to where the law and accessibility meet so you can save yourself some potential headache (not to mention many dollars).
Now, I hate to end on a downer note with all that talk about the law (Buzz. Kill.), so let me throw one extra way in that accessibility means better business.
5. (Bonus!) You’re Ready for the Future
This may sound a bit cheesy, but when you push the web accessibility initiative forward with your site, you’re putting yourself at the front of the line for future technologies.
WordPress already does a great deal out of the box to separate content from design, but accessibility takes that a step further by making content more machine-readable and device independent.
I can’t predict the future, but if we look at the past (and apply Moore’s law to the future), there’s a time coming where you and I will think our cell phones are terribly passé.
New technologies will emerge that enable us to consume content in ways we couldn’t have dreamed a decade ago. Understanding (and practicing) accessible content puts you ahead of the curve.
2 thoughts on “Web Accessibility: Why it’s great for your bottom line.”
Great article and so glad to see anyone in the WordPress world championing accessibility.
We find that some website owners have incorrect assumptions about the buying power of people with disabilities. When asked about accessibility they say, “that’s not my customer”. Not necessarily true!
For example, a person with sight impairment might need to buy auto insurance for her sighted teenage drivers. She needs to navigate through getting an online quote. We have a friend who is completely without sight. but he’s learning woodworking – with saws and all. He wants to buy his tools and supplies online, but has yet to find a site without barriers.
Considering that the estimated number of those with a visual disability, (in the US in 2012, age 16-75) was 6,670,300 — you’re pushing away a considerable amount of people with buying power if your site isn’t fully accessible to them.
Thank you, Pam. Great examples!
To some degree “That’s not my customer!” is entirely true, but only because they’re not given the opportunity to be a customer.