The marketing team is always under pressure to keep content fresh. Sometimes we take shortcuts, just to get our content out the door. Our new landing page is live and we didn’t give it a second thought about being accessible because the content looks great, it’s free of spelling errors, and it went through our usual approval process.
Little did we know that our landing page is actually alienating a portion of our audience, and we are losing customers because our content is not fully accessible. The reality is our little time-savers could mean big consequences for our bottom line if they cause our website to be inaccessible to people with disabilities. According to the World Health Organization, 10% of humankind – more than 600 million people – have life-altering disabilities that include a limited ability to interact with the Web.
Our time-saving shortcuts can add up quickly to produce a website that is inaccessible, alienating, and ultimately avoided. Below are three examples of common shortcuts and the consequence of each:
- The new banner on our landing page doesn’t include an alternative description for the image. When we don’t use ALT descriptions for images, screen readers can’t read them and our disabled audience can’t “see” them. That seriously limits the user experience of someone who has a vision impairment.
- No descriptive link text was used when creating the links on the page. Let’s say an author makes a hyperlink to a rate or price card on their page. The link text says “click here” instead of something more descriptive like “learn more about our pricing options.” Your screen reader and user are now lost. Make sure your descriptive text makes sense when read out of context.
- We didn’t take the time to designate our landing page headline as a heading – instead, it is “paragraph text”. When websites don’t include structural information on a page, screen readers must read every page from top to bottom to find the information our disabled visitors are looking for. These sites are usually avoided.
There are many reasons why authors don’t produce accessible content, but the main one is that authors are not aware of what needs to be done, nor are they aware of the consequences. When it comes to accessibility compliance, we really need extra help in the form of tools that automatically check and validate our pages specifically for accessibility. Whether you choose an accessibility tool that checks content as-you-type, or one that checks pages after publication, investing in making sure your web content is accessible to all is a good business practice.