Why Accessibility Is Vital In Website Design
As an agent, it’s your mission to help people find their dream homes. However, you may be inadvertently leaving behind a significant segment of potential clients: persons with disabilities (PWDs). And the culprit? Your website.
After all, how can you cater to this market if your website is designed only for those who don’t have disabilities? The good news, however, is that you can optimize your site for PWDs. Read on to know the whys and hows of website accessibility.
Accessibility Is The Law Of The Land
That’s right: websites are now required by law to be accessible to PWDs. This change is a result of the Department of Justice (DOJ) taking the position that consumer-facing websites are “places of public accommodation.”
It’s hardly surprising, though. Such is the ubiquity of the internet that many transactions and inquiries can be done online — something that was highlighted during the pandemic when many stores, offices, and government agencies closed down. Non-accessible websites would leave disabled people at a distinct disadvantage, hence the DOJ’s stance.
While the DOJ does not provide clear-cut guidance on how to make websites more accessible to PWDs, developers often follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 protocol advocated by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the leading authority on international web standards. It offers detailed guidelines and concrete success criteria for accessibility, making it perhaps the most comprehensive handbook for inclusive web development.
Even though the compliance regulations are not set in stone, you shouldn’t delay updating your website — if a user complains about your site, you may face a fine of up to $75,000.
The Advantages Of Accessibility
As a real estate agent, your website ticks the “consumer-facing” box. That said, avoiding a hefty fine isn’t the only reason you should make your website accessible.
Potential leads – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 1 in 4 Americans live with some form of disability. That’s roughly 80 million people, many of whom are likely in the market to buy a home. Your website will either enhance their homebuying experience or turn them away to a competitor with a more usable site.
Enhanced reputation – Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is no longer just a buzzword, it’s now a bonafide movement. A study from Merkle found that 64% of consumers act after seeing an inclusive ad. Just as telling: 81% of workers would leave their job if their employers lacked dedication to DEI. If you want an excellent reputation that helps you attract clients and retain agents, inclusivity should be a priority. And what better place to start than your website?
Boost your SEO – An ADA-compliant website is less likely to see users “bounce” or look for information elsewhere. Likewise, accessibility features make people dwell longer on your website. Both are signifiers of good user experience, which has become an important ranking factor for Google. And here’s another way that accessibility features help with your search ranking: adding alt-text to your photos doesn’t only benefit the vision-impaired, but also helps search engine spiders understand what your website is about.
Better experience for everyone – Of course, it’s not just PWDs who benefit from an accessible website. Elderly people with eyesight problems will appreciate your site’s added readability, for example. In the process of making your site more accessible, you’re likely to discover other usability issues that were affecting all visitors without you knowing. In short, everyone wins!
Does Your Website Have These Accessibility Features?
What exactly does an accessible website look like? It all comes down to features that offer differently abled people different ways of accessing the same content. These include:
Closed captions for videos – This ensures that even the hard of hearing can fully appreciate your video walkthroughs or Q&A sessions.
Alternate text for images – Rather than giving photos nondescript file names, give them telling ones like “3-Bedroom Beachfront Home in Miami” so people using screen readers will know exactly what’s onscreen.
Keyboard navigation – Those with motor impairment may not be able to use a computer mouse; keyboard navigation allows them to explore your website nevertheless.
High-contrast mode – This feature alters the colors used by a website to maximize readability, which is helpful for individuals with low vision or photosensitive eyes.
Clickable elements – Accessibility best practices recommend that clickable elements be spaced apart adequately to minimize misclicks. This also makes your website accessible even on mobile devices.
Thoughtful signup forms – Each field should be labeled clearly and sample text should be included to better guide users.
Have An Accessible Website Today!
If you want to make your site more inclusive, work with an expert who has deep expertise in accessibility and ADA compliance. Indeed, each website that Agent Image launches is carefully QA’d to ensure optimal accessibility, so you can better serve your visitors.
Don’t be left behind! Call 1.800.979.5799 or send a message here.
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