When you think about your website usability, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the look and feel, the navigation, how easy it is for people to find the information they’re looking for, or the way in which you promote your products or services. But do you think about whether or not the user experience works for people with disabilities?
In a perfect world, everyone would respond in the affirmative and say they have taken measures to improve web accessibility because it’s the right thing to do. We don’t live in a perfect world, though. Companies need to see an ROI—which is why businesses should invest in web accessibility anyways.
The business case for web accessibility can be broken down into four main categories: extending market share, innovation, enhancing your brand, and avoiding liability.
Extending Market Share
I start here because the numbers are simple, and, as always, they do not lie.
There are more than 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, and their spending power is more than $6 trillion. That’s 20 percent of the global population and an enormous profit center. The math speaks for itself: If you could increase conversions by 1 percent, let alone by 20 percent, that would be financially transformative.
Think of it this way: Not having an accessible web presence is the modern-day equivalent of kicking out every fifth customer that comes through your doors.
While extending market share is key, web accessibility improves the online experience for all users.
Web accessibility is an example of “curb cut” innovation. In the 1970s and ‘80s, municipalities started adding curb cuts (graded ramps that provide access from sidewalks to streets) to assist people with mobility issues, especially those in wheelchairs. Curb cuts didn’t become compulsory until the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, but now they’re part and parcel of American pedestrian byways.
These curb cuts, while designed to help people with mobility issues, benefited everyone. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Parents pushing strollers headed straight for curb cuts. So did workers pushing heavy carts, business travelers wheeling luggage, even runners and skateboarders. A study of pedestrian behavior at a Sarasota, Fla., shopping mall revealed that nine out of 10 ‘unencumbered pedestrians’ go out of their way to use a curb cut.”
This is how web accessibility works, too: websites built for accessibility also tend to be the most easily navigable and increase the chances of returning visitors. Accessible websites are also more likely to see a bump in traffic. That means more prospects and a higher chance of conversion.
Enhancing Your Brand
Diversity and inclusion efforts are essential to business success. Myriad studies show that D&I increase innovation, create higher returns on investment, attract talent, and even create more positive public images, which is essential in this buyer-driven market.
Disability activist Caroline Casey once said, “Inclusion without accessibility is a delusion.” That means web accessibility is a means of enhancing your brand.
With a clear, well-integrated commitment to accessibility, you’ll not only enhance your internal culture, you’ll create a brand that tells prospects you’re innovative, inclusive, and trustworthy.
Last but certainly not least: Website Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) laws are clear, and non-compliance puts you at risk. There’s no shortage of bad actors who partner with global law firms to make a coordinated effort of threatening non-compliant companies with litigation.
Compounded with the updated California Consumer Protection Act regulations, which require WCAG compliance, ignoring web accessibility could be costly. In other words: the cost savings of adapting prior to having to settle a lawsuit could be significant.
Overall, if you are an owner, legal counsel, VP of diversity, equity, belonging, or simply an employee who is passionate about all people having equal access to your company website, I hope this gives you some focused talking points around the specific business case for accessibility.