Is Accessibility Still Relevant in Web Design?

Back in 1998 building an accessible website was very different from how it’s done today. You’d open your copy of Notepad, edit the raw Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), save that HTML file, FTP it up to your server, and then test the URL using the W3C tools and presto! You had an accessible web page and could even add an official button to it to show the world your WAI or WCAG credentials. (See the WAI Standards Guidelines)

Nowadays, the principle is still basically the same, but the process has become more convoluted. As a digital design agency, WordPress is our choice of Content Management System (CMS). Rather than just a simple HTML file, we have the WordPress core files, headers, footers, widgets, theme files, the WYSIWYG builder, and all the myriad WordPress plugins.

Where once just one file was edited to make a page accessible, now there are so many places where the source code needs to be analysed and made compliant.

But that’s for us as your design agency to look at, not you, the business owner.

Why Should Websites be Accessible?

Here’s a simple and common reason why websites should be accessible… 

Have you ever had trouble reading the text on a website on your mobile phone? Even people with 20/20 vision encounter sites or apps  where the text is either too small to read comfortably, or it has insufficient contrast with the background colour (Think light grey text on a white background). 

Well, that is a classic and perfect reason for having an accessible web design. Website content is intended to be read, consumed, and enjoyed, so making sure that everyone can do so is important.

And accessibility is good for ALL people.

Here’s a list of the reasons why websites should be made accessible:

Ethical and Legal Reasons

      • Equality and Inclusion: Everyone deserves equal access to information and opportunity online, regardless of their abilities. Accessibility ensures that websites are usable by people with disabilities, including visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.

      • Legal Requirements: Many countries have laws mandating website accessibility, particularly government organisations and public-facing businesses. Ignoring these laws could lead to legal repercussions, so be aware of your obligations.

    The Business Benefits

        • Reach a Wider Audience: Over 1 billion people have disabilities worldwide, representing a significant market segment. Designing, building, and maintaining an accessible website can increase your potential customer base and improve your brand loyalty, as well as your brand awareness and credentials.

        • Improved User Experience (UX): Website accessibility principles benefit everyone, not just people with disabilities. Clear labelling, keyboard navigation, and good colour contrast enhance usability for everyone, leading to a better overall user experience.

        • SEO Boost: Search engines like Google do favour accessible websites, as they cater to a wider audience and provide a better user experience. Much of the search giant’s initiatives in indexing mobile-first a decade ago were driven by the requirement to surface accessible websites ahead of non-compliant ones. So focus on accessibility and get an SEO boost.

      Technological Advancements

          • Assistive Technologies: Tools like screen readers, voice control, and magnification software are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making website accessibility even more crucial. By making your site compliant with such tech helps all users to access your information.

          • Mobile Devices: As mobile usage continues to grow, ensuring that your organisation’s websites are accessible across different devices and screen sizes is essential.

        Accessibility is no longer a niche concern but has become a core component of good web design. Building accessible websites isn’t just about fulfilling your legal requirements or ethical obligations; it’s about creating a better, more inclusive web experience for everyone.

        So to answer the original question “is accessibility still relevant to web design?” the answer is a resounding yes! It’s more important than ever before in 2024.

        Clever Marketing, digital marketing agency. For help in making your website more accessible for your audience, get in touch with Clever Marketing.

        Call us on 01276 402 381 or fill in the simple contact form.

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