As a business owner, you deserve a website that aligns with your brand and provides your customers with the solutions they need. But while a properly maintained website can last for six or seven years without the need for a rebuild, you might not even realize that your website doesn’t function properly for a significant portion of web users.
It’s not enough to have customized websites that look attractive. Those websites also need to be truly accessible for all. But what exactly does that mean? And why should you make this a priority when you hire custom web designers?
What Does It Mean To Be ADA-Compliant?
Accessibility, in this context, goes beyond the ability to view a website on a smartphone or tablet. When you’re discussing accessible websites, it’s important to focus on ADA compliance. The Americans with Disabilities Act covers a number of standards businesses are required to follow in order to ensure those with disabilities are able to gain equal access to services. But what you might not realize is that these standards don’t merely apply to brick-and-mortar locations; they also apply to websites.
The ADA has its own Standards for Accessible Design, which pertains to the process of creating websites and other technology in a way that’s inclusive to those with physical and cognitive disabilities. Essentially, in order to be ADA-compliant, you’ll need to remove barriers that might keep someone with a disability from experiencing equal access to your information, products, or services.
Although that all makes sense in theory, it can be complicated in practice. If those who provide web design services aren’t familiar with the essential elements of an ADA-compliant site, they can inadvertently prioritize aesthetics over accessibility. Customized websites need to feature appropriate color contrast, properly labeled links, audio transcriptions, image alt text, legible font choices, keyboard navigation, and much more. Fortunately, there are plenty of free tools that you can use to determine whether your site is ADA-compliant.
Why Do Customized Websites Need to Be Accessible?
There are a number of reasons that customized websites need to be designed with compliance and accessibility in mind. For one thing, around 61 million U.S. adults — or one in four Americans — live with a disability. If your website fails to serve their needs, you’re actually doing your business a huge disservice. By prioritizing accessibility, you can increase customer loyalty and your ability to compete while boosting brand perception and conversion rates. Improving your site’s accessibility could also have positive effects on your SEO.
But aside from making sense from a business standpoint and showing our organization is inclusive, there are also legal benefits to ADA compliance. If your website doesn’t meet the standards outlined by the ADA, you could face major fines and lawsuits. Even a first-time ADA compliance violation could cost you up to $75,000 — and if you fail to make improvements, you might have to pay much more. If your business receives any type of federal funding, you could also put that at risk with a lack of ADA compliance. And while you might think your site can fly under the radar, the truth is that some people will specifically seek out sites with poor compliance in order to pursue legal action. In the end, the risks simply aren’t worth it.
Now that you understand the general idea behind ADA compliance and the issues associated with a lack of accessibility, you can take steps to determine whether your own site measures up. If you find your website doesn’t comply with ADA standards, it’s time to work with web designers who can ensure both compliance and attractive design. For more information on how we can help with our customized websites, please contact us today.