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Online shopping makes it possible for anyone to browse different products and purchase at their leisure. Generally, the shopping process and experience is different for anyone, considering we all have different habits, preferences, and tastes. However, for some people, online shopping can be quite tough.

Some internet shoppers might have to depend on screen readers to browse and access websites. And some people might be utilizing a keyboard to navigate websites due to temporary or permanent disability.

In fact, in the United States only, nearly 54% of all disabled adults utilize the Internet every day which means you have to make sure your store is accessible for everybody, regardless of their conditions and status.

In this article, we’ll cover what accessibility is and share some advice and steps you must take as an online store owner to make sure your ecommerce store complies with accessibility guidelines.

What Is Ecommerce Accessibility?

Ecommerce accessibility simply means people with disabilities can access, and utilize the web without any challenges.

Not only does it refer to physical disabilities such as auditory, cognitive, visual, or other permanent disabilities, it additionally includes temporary disabilities due to aging or outside forces such as a slow internet connection.

Why It Matters

The most significant reason why accessibility matters are that you have no control over who visits and interacts with your store. If your store doesn’t adhere to the accessibility guidelines, you could find yourself in court and are liable to pay significant fines.

On top of this, web accessibility is one of our basic human rights and it has a huge impact on your business. If your online store is accessible, it’s likewise optimized to offer all users with the most ideal user experience which then translates into better customer satisfaction, more revenue, and increased brand loyalty.

Finally, the last reason why accessibility matters are because adhering to accessibility guidelines means your store follows the recommended coding standards and uses semantic markup. This contributes to a better rank in the search engine which means you can get more organic traffic.

How to Check for Online Store Accessibility

Before diving into particular tips on making sure your online store is accessible, the first step is to see if your store is accessible or not. Here are a couple of ways to test what you have.

  • Visit your online store and go through the purchase process as if though you have a disability such as color blindness or have to rely on your keyboard to navigate around it and through the checkout process.
  • Utilize a service such as WAVE Web Accessibility Tool to see potential problems, warnings, and errors for your site. This free tool will let you know if you have errors like buttons and empty links, low contrast between the background and the text, and so on.
  • Get feedback from real users by using a service such as UserTesting.com. This will allow you to get objective feedback which you can then use to improve customer and user experience.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) introduces 4 principles for web content and design. They state that for a website/store to be “accessible”, it must be:

  • Perceivable — This principle includes guidelines such as giving text alternatives for non-text content. For instance, you need to have “alt text” for product images to accommodate for vision-impaired or blind visitors.
  • Operable — This principle says you should ensure your site can be effectively used by all people. For example, a user ought to be able to reasonably navigate your site using only their keyboard.
  • Understandable — This principle demonstrates that your site ought to be rendered in such a way that things like the language utilized can be programmatically chosen. It also suggests that a site should behave predictably. For example, merely changing focus on a part of a page doesn’t cause unexpected changes to the content.
  • Robust — As per this principle, content must be implemented in a way that it can understand reliably by assistive technologies.

How to Make Your Online Store Accessible

Web Accessibility Guidelines were published back in 1999 by W3C. They are responsible for maintaining the guidelines and the most current version dates to December 2008.

According to those guidelines, for a website to be accessible, the information found on that website must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. If any of those criteria are missing, that particular website is not considered accessible.

In layman’s terms, this means that once visitors come to your online store, they have to be able to perceive, use, and understand the information on your site. That information additionally needs to be robust enough so that various assistive technologies can rightly interpret it.

The following are the main points to follow based on the Web Accessibility Guidelines to ensure your online store is accessible to everyone.

  • When dealing with buttons and links, consider adding a question mark or an asterisk as an additional way to make them different from the rest of the content and to make sure people with color-blindness can understand what they are.
  • Use high-contrasting colors when it comes to text and background. Black text on a white background works better than using colors that are similar or close to each other on the color wheel.
  • Avoid using seizure-inducing content such as animated GIFs and flashing animations.
  • Limit the use of CAPTCHA wherever possible. Research shows that CAPTCHA is largely ineffective against spammers on top of being deemed inaccessible
  • Add support for braille and the ability to enlarge the print with mouse and the keyboard to your online store.
  • Include alt text and text descriptions for content such as images, videos, and audio used in product pages and elsewhere in your store
  • Make your product descriptions and other content easier to read with the use of formatting options such as headings, subheadings, bullet points, and shorter paragraphs
  • Avoid using technical terms, jargon, and abbreviations without defining them to ensure content in your store is easy to understand.
  • Make sure the text in your links is easy to understand and describes what you are linking to rather than using generic terms such as “Click Here”.
  • If your links are set to open in a new tab, be sure to notify the user
  • Buttons, menu items, drop-down menus, and navigation should be accessible via keyboard and mouse
  • Ensure each page includes skip links at the top so your visitors can jump to main content as soon as the page loads
  • Checkout forms have to be proper labels that simply explain what the field is for. You’ll additionally need to make sure that the field on your checkout form gives visitors with warning and confirmation messages.
  • Avoid using music or videos that play automatically when a user lands on your website. Content such as videos and audio tracks should have clearly visible controls for play, pause, and stop buttons. This type of content should also have transcripts included as well as closed captioning and sign language whenever possible.
  • Buttons that trigger downloads such a PDF receipt for the purchase an invoice or similar should have descriptions that tell visitors what will happen once they click the button.
  • Talk to your developer and ask him to use WAI-ARIA roles to provide meaning for HTML elements like accordions and tabs, their functions, and states; as well as adding tabindex to elements such as and that don’t usually receive focus.
  • Consider using a plugin to fix common accessibility issues such as providing keyboard focus, preventing links from opening in other windows, and more.

Benefits of an accessible Builderfly store

The Builderfly helps Builderfly merchants develop their business with confidence. Where Builderfly’s ecommerce expertise helps businesses grow and thrive, We ensure those online businesses are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Together, our goal is to create a better online experience for all users.

  • Reduced risk
    • Organizations that actively pursue accessibility excellence are better positioned to address claims and avoid costly complaints about accessibility issues.
  • Increased revenue
    • People with disabilities make up almost 20% of the US population– a significant share of the market. By hosting an inaccessible website, you exclude a huge group of shoppers from buying your products.
  • Great customer experience
    • Accessibility and universal design practices benefit your entire user base, not just people with disabilities. An accessible ecommerce store creates an excellent user experience for all your customers.
  • Increased brand loyalty
    • People with disabilities often abandon companies because their websites and apps are inaccessible. Strengthen the brand loyalty you have with your customers by upholding an accessible shopping experience.

Final Thoughts

Making your online store accessible enables you not only to contribute to making the whole web accessible to everybody however it also helps you improve your customer experience, SEO, and drive more organic traffic to your site. Use the tips in this article to improve the accessibility of your online store.

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