Driving targeted traffic to your B2B tech website is the top priority for inbound marketers. That’s why it’s so critical to ensure that your website is accessible to your audience. By maximizing your accessibility, you’ll also be providing a better overall user experience for each of your visitors while also meeting legal requirements and boosting your search visibility. Use this overview and linked resources to help build accessibility into your next project.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility means that users can read, understand, navigate, and interact with your content, regardless of their ability. Accessible design is about making products usable by the greatest number of people possible. That means that you must create content that may be accessed by assistive technologies (equipment, devices, and software that help people access and interact with the web) including automated tools, keyboard-only navigation, and screen readers. This includes everything on or attached to a website, including text, documents, images, videos, podcasts, PDFs, etc. Before we get into how to make your website accessible, here are a few guiding principles on why accessibility matters.
Reaching All Your Customers
As a B2B technology marketer, your website is the hub of your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts. You are regularly producing content and creating tools that attract buyers, inform your audience, and assist your customers. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to access your work and create an exceptional CX for everyone, no matter how they interact with your content.
Boosting Your SEO Ranking
SEO simply means that search engines, such as Google, can find, index, rank and connect users with your content. Like accessibility, SEO requires proper alternative text and title attributes that are accurately descriptive of their related content — and make it easy for anyone to understand what’s on the page. Evidence suggests that accessibility practices help with search engine rankings and demonstrate that your site is committed to quality content.
Meeting Legal Requirements
We anticipate that accessibility practices will eventually be a legal requirement for online properties — we’ve already seen notable cases of accessibility litigation, such as when the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) sued Target because their website was not accessible to blind and visually impaired users. However, even now, many of these concerns are universal and applicable to all websites, especially in the B2B space.
Levels of Accessibility
There are three levels of accessibility: Level A (minimum level of conformance for all sites), Level AA (for audiences with specific needs such as healthcare entities), and Level AAA (for government entities). In order to meet accessibility standards, items must be: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. Let’s take look at what exactly that means and explore some examples from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to give you an idea of what accessibility looks like in action.
In order to be perceivable, information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive. One of the easiest ways to do this is through Text Alternatives (1.1.1 Non-text Content - Level A) or alt-text. The guidelines state that all non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose. In the case of your website, this also means not using images of text in the place of text itself. Taking the time to effectively include alt text tags has an added SEO benefits by helping web crawlers parse the content on your page, including images, ensuring your page is ranked based on the full value of its content.
In order to be operable, user interface components and navigation must be able to be used. For instance, the “Enough Time” (2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide - Level A) rule states that for any moving, blinking, scrolling, or auto-updating information there is a mechanism for the user to pause, stop, hide, or control the frequency of it unless it is part of an activity where it is essential. This comes in handy for websites that have carousels on the homepage where a user may need extra time to read or interact with the information there by allowing them to control what they see.
In order to be understandable, information and the operation of any user interface must be able to be understood. Consider Input Assistance (3.3.3 Error Suggestion - Level AA) which states that, if an input error is automatically detected and suggestions for correction are known, then the suggestions are provided to the user, unless it would jeopardize the security or purpose of the content. If you’ve ever had an error message when entering your username and password, but the form didn’t tell you which was wrong, you understand the value of input assistance.
In order to be robust, content must be able to be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. One example of this is compatibility (4.1.1 Parsing - Level A). In content implemented using markup languages, elements have complete start and end tags, elements are nested according to their specifications, elements do not contain duplicate attributes, and any IDs are unique, except where the specifications allow these features. For example, an H1 tag requires a start (<h1>) and end (</h1>) tag, but an IMG tag only requires a start (<img>) tag. This guideline ultimately comes down to making sure you’re writing good, clean, proper HTML. Correct HTML tags improve your website’s usability, accessibility, and SEO.
While this list does not include all of the items to consider for accessibility, you can find a comprehensive guide in WCAG 2.0’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. If you need help building a website that meets all of these accessibility guidelines, reach out to us. We’d be happy to start that conversation with you.