Susanna, you have been working with accessibility for two decades now. What do you reply when someone asks you why accessibility of websites is so important?
Accessibility is important to make sure you reach as many as possible with your message, but also to increase the ease of use to all visitors. Because although accessibility is necessary to some users, it is beneficial to all. During the more than 20 years we have performed user testing, I have never heard anyone say that an interface is ”too easy to grasp”.
Is there anything that you think corporate websites specifically should improve?
I don’t think it is possible to address corporate websites as if they were all the same. Some sectors do better than others*. Many companies who are active in the U.S., or other markets where legislation is already in place, are preparing for the European Accessibility Act. I just spoke to one of the top Swedish e-commerce sites today, and no one in the meeting could come up with a response to why they ask for my address three times when I try to buy something from them. So a generic answer might be: design for your users.
*According to Webranking by Comprend 2020-2021, companies in the insurance, financial services and media sectors did better than average. And when comparing the results of the 20 largest companies in each country, Austria comes out on top, where all 20 companies score higher than 50, and 43% higher than 90. Norway, Spain, Netherlands and Russia also have high results. With more industries and countries starting to apply the European Accessibility Act, we hope to see even higher results in the upcoming season of Webranking.
What would be your top tips to listed companies who wants to improve their accessibility?
I would go for awareness:
- Let the C-suite try out your interfaces every now and then and observe them while doing it. This little trick changed the whole approach towards accessibility for one of the major banks that Funka works with.
- Try to use your website while moving around (ride a bus if it is Covid-safe) – not because your users necessarily would do that, but because you will get a glimpse of what it is like to use it with motor impairments.
- Try to use your website/app in bright sunlight – again, not because your users do that on a daily basis, but because you will get a glimpse of what it is like to use it with a visual impairment.
- Let your SEO-people have a look at the minimum requirements of the accessibility regulations – some of these interact in a good way
This awareness exercises would hopefully lead you to some basic improvements:
- Make sure to provide good contrasts between text and background.
- Make sure that clickable areas are not too small or too close to each other – and that it is clear that they are clickable.
- Try to provide a good mix of text, images, video and audio - and make sure there is always an alternative.
- Implement the technical accessibility standards that your tools recommend – Google is a blind user.
Thank you Susanna for sharing your thoughts with us! We look forward to more face to face meetings in the office.
See also our article about how an accessible website is key to tell your story in which we dig deeper into the Webranking data and how Europe's largest listed companies are doing in terms of accessibility. Get in touch with us if you want to know more!