E-commerce is the way to shop these days. Moreso, the Covid-19 pandemic accentuated our need to reduce physical interaction. Therefore, your online store must be accessible to everyone. The age, skill level, software or hardware they are using, or whether or not they have a disability is irrelevant. The design and content of your website should not discourage anyone from shopping at your store.
Besides being the right thing to do, an accessible website boosts your brand awareness. Socially responsible brands can attract customers who share the same ideals and beliefs. Furthermore, accessibility ensures ADA compliance for your website. Compliance reduces your risk of discrimination and accessibility lawsuits.
🔍Find out if your website is ADA & WCAG compliant now!
What Is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility is the state of having web content accessible to people with disabilities. Digital products and services must be useful and usable for people with cognitive and physical disabilities. In other words, anyone should be able to navigate your website or digital product and enjoy its content regardless of their ability or hardware.
E-commerce Accessibility Checklist
A lot of people focus on the design of their online store when they build one. Their online store features vibrant colors, captivating fonts, and other striking visual elements. However, this won’t guarantee that your website will sell products online. Even if it makes your website stand out, you may not be able to sell anything. Your online storefront must be accessible to all, with designs that cater to all kinds of customers, including those with disabilities. These are some best practices that’ll help you make your online store accessible.
Add Alternative Text (ALT-text) to Images
Alt text is the descriptive text used in HTML to provide contextual information about an image on a web page. Usually, e-commerce sites are loaded with images to help prospective customers get a good look at the products. Failing to add alt text to those images can render the products useless to people browsing with assistive technology.
Of course, some images should be rendered invisible to such users — purely decorative ones. For such images, keep their alt tags empty. That way, screen readers are directed to skip the image and navigate to product images or other content that matters.
Optimize for Keyboard Navigation
People who use screen readers to access the web make use of their keyboards which is why you should make sure that your website is fully navigable by keyboard. Make sure your keyboard navigation order is logical and intuitive. If you are an online retailer, this is extremely important, as it will allow all users to browse the items they are looking for without having to use a mouse.
To test your website’s navigation flow, you can use the TAB key on your keyboard to tab through the active links. Keep an eye out for a visual focus indicator, such as an outline around each link — the order of the tabs should also follow the same order.
Use the Right Colors
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) level AA requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. WCAG 2.1 requires a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for graphics and user interface components (such as form input borders). This is to ensure that someone who is color blind can understand the various website elements. Ensure that you use cues such as meaningful labels (e.g. exclamation points) and text to help all users understand the same information.
💡Learn more: How smart invert improves accessibility on Apple devices.
Use Only Descriptive Link Text
Ensure that your website’s text description can be read by visitors who use screen readers to distinguish links from one another when navigating a page by link text alone. In this way, they have the option of clicking the link or not. If you are writing an article about Corporate finance, for instance, use the link text “Read more about corporate finance” rather than just “Read more.”
Prioritize Text Clarity
Text clarity is all about ensuring the legibility and readability of your website text. How do you expect to sell online if visitors can’t clearly read your content? You can achieve text clarity by allowing users to be able to resize your text as well as using colors with sufficient contrast between the text and the background. Use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to determine the appropriate size and color contrast ratio.
Offer Extended Audio Descriptions and Closed Captions for Multimedia Content
If you offer videos on your eCommerce website, ensure that these are accessible to people who have hearing impairments. Adding an audio description ensures that these individuals are able to perceive what is happening in the video. Furthermore, the provision of closed captions or transcripts of audio files helps to enhance their experience of audio content.
Get Feedback from Your Customers
There are a lot of suggestions and recommendations related to creating an accessible e-commerce website, but unless you have ever struggled to use an online store, it will be difficult to determine what challenges your shoppers may be facing. For instance, how easy is it for someone using a screen reader to navigate your website all the way to the checkout page?
Interviewing real consumers is essential. Find out how you can make buying from your website easier for them. Find out what prevents them from browsing and purchasing items from your online store. Through user research, you can learn more about your customers’ habits and capabilities without alienating them.
Enlist Professional Help
Accessible e-commerce can be created from the ground up, but you can also streamline the process with the right tools and resources.
Equally AI can improve your e-commerce store with just a single line of code. Try out our automated accessibility solution for free, then select the plan that best matches your needs. Our pricing plans can be found here.