According to new research from Nielson, the average American spends a whopping 11 hours per day interacting with some form of digital media. This includes 2+ hours per day on computers, tablets and smartphones. Given these statistics, it’s clear that the time people spend on the web makes inbound marketing more important than ever.
With companies increasing their focus on inbound marketing, that means more time spent managing social media, blogs and web content. It also means building websites creating social media posts that are engaging. The real experts consider buyer personas and create content that is catered to their interests.
But do you ever take the time to consider the accessibility of your web content? And I don’t just mean how easy it is to find information on your website – though that does play a role. How easy is it for users with disabilities to access and take advantage of your content?
I recently attended a talk on Marketing Without Barriers on this very topic and wanted to share some easy ways that you can make your company’s marketing more accessible.
Key Accessibility Barriers
Incredibly, an estimated 90% of all websites are not accessible to people with disabilities despite the fact that 15 to 20 percent of U.S. web users have disabilities, whether it’s blindness, dyslexia, deafness, etc. That’s an average of 55 million people who could be missing out on your content due to accessibility issues!
Where does your website fit into these statistics? Do you have a persona that takes people with disabilities into account?
Three Reasons Why Your Business Should Care about Accessibility
1. It is the lawful thing to do
You’re probably familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the requirements it places on buildings to be accessible. This legislation is what has resulted in handicap ramps, elevators and other features that make it easier for people of all abilities to gain access. What you might not realize is that the ADA is also designed to protect the basic human right to information access. This includes information on the internet, such as your website.
While it may seem that government agencies should really be the only ones worrying about legal issues regarding accessibility, it is every content creator’s duty to address this need for accessibility for all users. It doesn’t just make good legal sense – it is good business sense as well. The more accessible your content, the larger the audience you can potentially attract.
2. Stand out from the crowd
Really though, you shouldn’t just be creating accessible content to keep out of trouble or because you have to, especially when a fully accessible website automatically sets you apart from the many other business sites on the internet. By going the extra mile, you are not only helping to set a higher standard for site accessibility, you are setting yourself up for some major customer delight.
Search engine optimization (SEO) and accessibility go hand-in-hand. If you are doing one well, you are probably already doing the other well. A lot of the back-end information that you would utilize for SEO (including meta titles and descriptions, H1 tags, etc.) is automatically used to give those with disabilities better access to your content.
Good accessibility helps your own business just as much as your target audience. Even if you don’t consider those with disabilities as an audience segment in your marketing strategy – which you should be doing – making your content more accessible can benefit everyone who falls into one of your persona groups.
How to Create Accessible Content
Accessibility varies depending on the type of content you have. Here are some simple ways to add that extra bit of assistive information and make your content accessible to a broader audience:
- Videos or Podcasts – Use closed captions and transcribe any audio.
- SEO – Make the most of your meta-descriptions and other back-end information, and if you are already an SEO pro, keep at it.
- Images – Always create clear alt tags for your images to assist screenreaders
- Headers and Links – In the past, I’ve written about the importance of creating successful links, but did you know this is important whether your readers have a disability or not? Likewise, headers need to be just as descriptive and informative.
- Color Contrast – Make sure content is never hard to see due to awkward color choices. Set your brand standards from the beginning and clarify when to use your brand’s colors. When all else fails, use black text on white – or even vice versa.
- Test Test Test! – There are many programs that can certify the accessibility of your site, most notable is that of the World Wide Web Consortium. But nothing is better than actual user experience. Try to learn more about what it is like to use the web with a disability. Navigate your website using only the keyboard, no mouse. Approach it from a different perspective.
The biggest point, however, is just to simply regard accessibility as if if were another audience segment to target in your marketing strategy. If need be, you can even create a whole new audience persona that can appropriately represent a person with disabilities.
Good accessibility can be tough, and can take some time to figure out. Start by understanding and respecting its importance. Just following the few tips outlined here can make a difference, and a persona can help you to make sure you are on track to attract and provide customer delight to those with disabilities.