[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Online shopping has been all the rage in the past decade, and the recent global pandemic only accelerated this trend. But are all customers the same? According to The World Bank, around 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, experience some form of disability.

A recent CDC report claims that around 26% of adults in the U.S. have a disability. What’s more, they have a significant combined disposable income. This makes web accessibility critical for eCommerce websites.

Prioritizing eCommerce web accessibility is not only good for ethical reasons but also to target this huge untapped audience. In this blog, we’ll cover some best accessibility solutions for eCommerce websites that will help your shoppers with disabilities and boost your conversion rates. 

eCommerce Web Accessibility: Decoding the Meaning

eCommerce web accessibility is all about creating an inclusive experience to ensure that everyone has barrier-free access to your website. This means even people with cognitive, physical, and situational disabilities can use your online store.

An accessible eCommerce website is built by adhering to the following 4 principles:

  • Perceivable: Ensuring that your online store’s content is easily perceivable by all. For example, adding alternate text to non-text content.
  • Understandable: Ensuring that the user interface and information are very clear to customers.
  • Robust: Using valid code markup to make your website effective and easily interpreted by assistive technologies.
  • Easily Operable: Ensuring that all users can effectively use your website. For example, having a flexible website design to facilitate navigation via keyboard.

Benefits of eCommerce Web Accessibility

  • Ensuring web accessibility for eCommerce websites provides you with a large customer base. If customers find it difficult to purchase from your eCommerce website, they are likely to shift to another one. An accessible user interface, on the other hand, can increase your conversion rates.
  • It reduces the bounce rates or chances of shoppers leaving without making a purchase. Rather, customers are more likely to join the sales funnel and finish the purchase.
  • Implementing eCommerce web accessibility makes you compliant with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), protecting your online store against web accessibility lawsuits.

7 Ways to Make Your eCommerce Website Accessible

1. Include Image Alt Text

Visually-impaired customers use screen readers to access eCommerce websites. They depend on product descriptions and image alternative texts to choose the correct order size and product and know about details such as instructions and ingredients.

Adding descriptive alternative text to convey details of non-decorative pictures will help blind people better perceive the website information. Also, ensure that you hide decorative pictures from screen readers to avoid confusion.

2. Avoid Relying Completely on Color

Did you know that around 300 million of the world’s population have color blindness? Using color as a primary user experience element for your website will make it difficult for color-blind shoppers to comprehend the information.

To solve this issue, ensure you use other cues like meaningful text and labels (such as exclamation points) to help shoppers understand and use the information. You can also include features (like explanatory link text etc.) that will help them distinguish between information text and clickable links.  

3. Focus on Text Clarity

Your online sales will take the biggest hit if the shoppers are unable to read your website content. Here’s when text clarity comes into play.

Text clarity is all about reinstating the readability and legibility of the text content on your website. This can be achieved by allowing customers to resize the text along with colors. You can use a high level of contrast between the background and the text so that blind users can read it easily.  

Refer to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to implement the appropriate color contrast and size ratio.

4. Implement a Keyboard-friendly Design

Many users with disabilities depend on keyboards rather than a mouse to use computers. In such cases, it will be nearly impossible for them to buy anything if your website requires a mouse for interaction and navigation.

Here’s when designing an intuitive and logical keyboard navigation order comes in handy. Make use of the TAB key to switch between active links. This is highly essential for an online retail store selling products as it will allow customers to navigate to the product they want without using a mouse.  

5. Provide Audio Descriptions and Captions For Videos

Ensure that all the videos on your website are easily accessible to shoppers having hearing and visual impairments, along with those who have cognitive limitations. Wondering how this can be done?

You can add audio descriptions to help them understand what the video is about. Often, the pauses in the audio of the video are insufficient to allow audio descriptions that will deliver visual information. That’s when an extended audio description comes in handy.

Including captions for your videos will help users having hearing impairments experience them.  

6. Ensure Touch Controls have a 44*44 px Clickable Area

As per the web accessibility guidelines, the touch controls must have a 44*44 px clickable area. This ensures sufficient space for customers to activate targets, irrespective of the device they’re using (be it a desktop, laptop, or mobile device).

A 44*44 px clickable area per target provides enough space for users with limited dexterity to activate buttons and make selections. What’s even better is this will also make your “add to cart” or “buy” buttons easier to click, which in turn can increase your online sales.  

7. Structure Content in HTML

The reading order plays a critical role when it comes to designing your website. When you create an eCommerce website, ensure to structure the content in a manner that can be read by a screen reader without hampering the intended meaning.

Screen readers “read” your website content in a linear order, so they require a source code. It’s essential to create a source code to prevent user confusion.   

Wrapping Up

Fulfilling ethical and moral responsibility is not the sole benefit of implementing eCommerce web accessibility. For online stores, it ensures business success as everyone can buy from their store. Most importantly, it’s a step forward in creating a digital world that’s accessible to all.

At Hurix, we root for equal access to eCommerce, healthcare, and online education for users with disabilities. Get in touch with HurixDigital today to learn more about our web accessibility solutions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]