In 2014, H&R Block paid $145,000 to settle a suit filed by the U.S. Justice Department that claimed the company’s website, created by HRB Digital LLC (Block’s digital development unit), violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 2008, Target was forced to pay $6 million in damages related to its online checkout process. More surprising, however, is the fact that both businesses could have saved time and resources in development and maintenance and delivered a universally better user experience had they designed for accessibility in the first place. How can that be?
Forced clarity of design.
Designing for accessibility requires adherence to established information hierarchies. These hierarchies exist because they are more familiar, if not decidedly more intuitive, for users, particularly those users who have a visual impairment. Further, such hierarchies force the information designer to be aware of how each navigation choice relates to every other choice.
Better organized code that is easier to maintain.
Basic accessibility design requires a clear separation between the presentation layer and the data layer and something called “source order,” which means structuring the code to reflect the visual design of the layout. This overlaps with other best practice issues such as mobile compatibility and device independence. Case studies show that accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs, and increased audience reach, among other benefits. Because the designers design the quickest way for an impaired user to get to content, the online experience for all users is improved.
Bonus points: Improved SEO and improved backwards (and forwards) compatibility.
The added tagging and metadata required for accessibility make more of your content available to search engines and other automatic data-mining applications. This can significantly increase the chance that people searching for particular content on your site can find it. And let’s face it, we all benefit from improved SEO. As an added bonus, it has been shown that because sites designed for accessibility use more widely accepted design and code standards, they perform better on a wider variety of current and legacy browsers. Better yet, these sites will also perform better in new browsers or devices introduced in the future.
The right thing to do … and it’s smart business.
For additional information, W3.org has a great post, “Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization,” which further details the social, technical, financial, and legal benefits of web accessibility.
Looking for a marketing partner that can help you design a better interface for everyone?
Since 1985, Magnani Continuum Marketing has made it easier for organizations selling in highly technical and complex markets to deliver the most effective and seamless traditional and digital brand experiences. We’re more digital than advertising agencies. We’re more strategic than digital marketing shops. We’re more creative than management consultants. And we’re a heck of a lot easier to work with than almost all of them.