How accessibility works for business

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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Having an accessible website is not just about meeting legislative requirements and mitigating legal risks. It also has tangible benefits for every visitor to your website, by making your website easier to use and navigate.

When a site has been optimised for compliance with website accessibility guidelines, it means that the site is no longer relying on bleeding-edge, experimental interface technology that sometimes even experts have troubling using. While experimentation is what drives the industry forward, it only serves as a barrier between users and the information, products and/or services you are trying to deliver when that experimentation is delivered in a way that isn't accessible to regular users, let alone the wider community.

Further, accessible websites do not rely on new technology to display information and enable transactions between you and your customers, meaning that accessible websites easily overcome compatibility issues that seem to plague websites that focus on technology over presentation or content. Focussing on accessibility means that old browsers, and new devices such as smart phones, can deliver content just as effectively as current-generation browsers.

Lastly, building your website with a focus on accessibility also has a very strong influence on search-engine rankings, because search-engine spiders (the software that scans the web for interesting and relevant content) find it easier to traverse accessible websites.

For many website managers, the business case for developing an accessible website is not always strong enough when looking at the legal requirements alone. For these managers however, the attraction of providing a better, more compatible experience for customers using older, and cutting-edge, hardware, is more than enough reason to look more closely at website accessibility.