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How (And Why) To Improve Accessibility In ECommerce

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Accessibility in eCommerce is a key element that can make a difference and determine the success or failure of a digital business. Nowadays, it is essential that all users perceive the Internet as a space that they can use without problems.

The truth is that designers are not taking much of this into account when creating their electronic stores. This problem is especially concrete in the group of people with disabilities , who continue to have difficulties accessing eCommerce because the websites are not adapted to their needs.

An excellent way to boost online stores

First of all, there is a devastating reason that should compel companies to improve the accessibility of e-commerce without hesitation: it is one of the easiest ways to boost digital business.

According to the World Bank, about 15% of the world's population suffers from some type of disability that affects their daily lives. This means that this 15% of the potential market is forced to find alternatives that suit their needs when buying.

Without a doubt, it is a very large market and one of the most loyal types of consumers with companies that take their needs into account.

Why it is urgent to optimize accessibility in eCommerce

In this regard, we mention other compelling reasons that invite us to improve accessibility in eCommerce:

  • Accessible websites are more comfortable for everyone , not just people with disabilities. On the other hand, because they are well designed, they are generally cheaper to run and maintain .
  • The necessary tools and precise knowledge to build an accessible website are already there to be used. A good example is the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) , an initiative that emerged whose objective is to establish a series of clear rules that ensure the accessibility of the web .
  • It must be clear that users who may have problems when using an eCommerce will abandon it before asking for help.
  • Websites that prioritize accessibility usually have better organic positioning . Search engines like Google are designed to favor websites that take this into account.
  • Contrary to what you might think, a good web design that takes advantage of eCommerce accessibility can be possible .
  • It really is the best thing that can be done to improve people's digital experience.


Who is affected by the lack of accessibility in eCommerce?

When we talk about difficulty in accessibility, we refer to the fact that users with hearing problems often do not have descriptive videos with subtitles, or that people with vision loss often have problems reading light-colored text, to give two examples :

People with visual difficulties

Visual disabilities are those that refer to total or partial blindness , color blindness and other problems related to vision.

The best way to help people with these difficulties is to offer screen magnifiers and screen readers . Ebay , for example, explicitly tags all of its product images to make the website user-friendly for people who use these softwares. It is also convenient to use high-contrast color schemes , shapes, and images.

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People with hearing difficulties

In this case, we are referring to two types of people: those who are deaf and those who suffer from hearing loss . To reinforce the accessibility of eCommerce in these cases, the possibility of inserting subtitles in the videos should be considered and, if possible, offering video versions in alternative languages.

Old people

Web accessibility for the elderly also deserves attention . It must be borne in mind that a large part of the elderly experience visual and hearing impairment -often both cases-, in addition to other typical problems such as decreased memory and lack of motor skills .

A good way to help seniors better access eCommerce is by placing page elements closer together and viewable sequentially . Likewise, it is advisable to gradually display new information on the screen.

People with mental or cognitive disabilities

People with intellectual or cognitive disabilities must also be taken into account. In this case, as Amazon or eBay do, it is convenient to use simple words to classify and describe the products. In the same way, texts that are not literal and can lead to confusion regarding their understanding should be avoided.

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5 things you can do to improve accessibility in eCommerce

It must be said that accessibility in eCommerce would improve significantly if only the colors and contrasts of the screen were taken into account and it could be displayed well on all devices ( for example, mobile websites often require a larger text than more visible to older users). In addition you can:

  • Eliminate time limits: Or at least lengthen them. Keep in mind that users with disabilities need more time to browse online.
  • Always add the option to 'skip content': Very useful for users who access the Internet with screen readers to avoid content that does not interest them.
  • Provide transcripts of the texts : In addition to subtitling the videos, it is advisable to include transcripts so that people with hearing disabilities can read the content of the video at their own pace.
  • Add titles to graphs: especially those whose description does not fit the alt attribute.
  • Do not use images for tables: Very useful for users who use screen readers.

However, it should be noted that the eCommerce accessibility improvement project should never be an optional concern and it is advisable to implement an accessibility policy according to the resources with the commitment to follow it at all times.

Since, after all, it is useless for an online store to have an incredible design if a high percentage of users cannot use (and buy) on the web comfortably.

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