Accessibility (noun); the quality of being easy to reach, obtain, use and understand
The term accessibility is most often associated with the physical world. It conjures images of wheelchair ramps, lifts and escalators. But accessibility is a necessity everywhere, for everyone. And that includes online.
For businesses, online accessibility applies to both your website and your online support. Achieving it means meeting the needs of your website visitors, regardless of age, location or ability. Worse, without online accessibility, you risk alienating potential customers.
So, here are three things you can do to build, improve and maintain the accessibility of your business and your service in the online world.
Make your website easy to navigate
Perhaps the simplest and most subtle way to improve your business’s online accessibility is with the design of your website. When your website is easy to use and navigate, it’s more accessible.
You can improve the online accessibility of your business for every visitor by improving content findability. So, organise your content into clearly labelled menus. You can also incorporate an embedded search function to help every visitor find exactly what they’re looking for.
But sometimes this isn’t enough, and your visitors get stuck. So, interactivity is another key part of making your business accessible online. Make sure a confused visitor can reach you from any pageon your website. You might choose to do this with a proactive chat invitation, or a personalised chatbot. Or you could simply make sure a link to your contact options is available from every page.
Cater for differences in ability
Everyone is different, and a large part of online accessibility is about catering to these differences. For some online visitors, disabilities make interacting with businesses online an uphill battle.
To improve your online accessibility for less able customers, you need to be thinking about the problems that they could be facing. Then, you need to find a way that you could cater to this accessibility issue.
For example, optimising your website for screen readers improves accessibility for visually impaired visitors. Meanwhile, giving visitors an option to adjust the size of web text improves accessibility for older visitorssuffering from presbyopia.
You should also consider mental health conditions in terms of online accessibility. For instance, anxiety. Contacting your support team via telephone may be dauntingfor someone with a social anxiety disorder. So, you could also offer support via low-barrier digital channels like email or live chat. This can help customers feel less anxious and so improve your online service accessibility.
Support multiple languages
Another key way to improve the accessibility of your website and your service is to remove language barriers. The marketplace is becoming increasingly diverse. So, enabling those visiting your business online to use their native language is fast becoming an accessibility must for businesses.
There are two sides to supporting multiple languages online. These are website translation and multilingual support.
Website translationmeans offering your content in more than one language. Some website builders come with language apps to help with this. Alternatively, you might consider using a Google translate function that allows your visitors to translate your web pages to their chosen language.
When handling language barriers within your online support, you have a few options. You could hire a multi-lingual agent or use an off-shore call centre. Another option is live chat translation, which allows your existing support team to converse with any customer in any language.
Scratching the surface
These are just a few ways that you can improve the online accessibility of your business. You might consider also optimising for mobile for ease of use. Or using social mediato increase the accessibility of your support.
Online accessibility means meeting the needs of your website visitors, regardless of age, location or ability. By improving the accessibility of your website and your online support, you can turn more of your online visitors into online customers.
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.