Enhanced UX accessibility to recapture 90% of bounced visitors

January 15th 2024
Jakub Kaspar
Design Lead CEE

When you’re designing a new application or website, accessibility might not be the first thing that comes to mind, especially if you’re excited about creating something new. 

However, in today's digital landscape, prioritizing accessibility is crucial. It's a vital part of how people interact with your business, ensuring that your digital offerings are inclusive and user-friendly for a diverse audience. Incorporating accessible UX not only avoids excluding individuals but also enhances the overall user experience, contributing to positive brand perception, legal compliance, and sustainable business growth.

What might seem like a shiny new feature or an eye-catching piece of artwork can easily cause unintentional problems for people with disabilities. Seemingly innocuous elements of design, color or layout can make websites difficult or distressing for some people to use. This can have a negative effect not only on your brand perception, but on your bottom line, too.

Accessibility is therefore closely linked with user experience (UX), and when you get UX accessibility right, it’s not just people with disabilities that benefit. As many as 90% of users will give up on a mobile app if the UX is bad, while good website design can increase the amount of time spent on websites by 84% and boost online revenue by 132% year-on-year.

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In this blog, we’ll explore accessibility in detail, including the most common errors that businesses are making, the scale of the damage they cause, and how improved UX can support better accessibility for all.

What is accessibility?

Accessibility refers to activities that make systems and applications more easily used by people who are impaired or disabled. This includes people who have problems with their hearing, sight, mobility, or have cognitive issues, to enable them to use digital products and services just as effectively as people without any impairments.

Where are online businesses failing with UX accessibility?

Accessibility is a bigger issue now than it’s ever been before. According to the World Health Organization, one-sixth of the world’s population has a significant disability of some kind: that’s around 1.3 billion people. That’s a significant chunk of the global marketplace and their money is as good as anyone else’s: the Return on Disability Group has found that $13 trillion of disposable income every year is controlled by people with disabilities and the people close to them.

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But despite this, there are several important areas where many businesses, websites and applications are falling a long way short, both in accessibility and in UX. These include (and are not necessarily limited to):

  • Unintuitive navigation: complex or unclear navigation structures can make it hard for users to find information easily.

  • Non-responsive design: websites and applications that are not responsive to different screen sizes and devices can lead to a poor user experience.

  • Complex forms or steps: forms that are too long, too complicated or labeled poorly can create barriers for users with cognitive disabilities or those using assistive technologies.

  • Lack of diverse testing: failing to conduct usability testing with diverse users, including those with disabilities, can result in specific issues being overlooked and missed.

  • Inconsistency: inconsistent or unpredictable design elements and interactions can cause confusion and dissatisfaction.

  • Poor color, contrast and readability: insufficient color contrast in text and background colors, and unsuitable font sizes and styles, can make content difficult to read, particularly for users with visual impairments.

  • Lack of keyboard accessibility: many websites are not designed to be compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers, magnification software, and voice recognition programs.
  • Lack of semantic HTML: using appropriate HTML elements for their designated purposes helps assistive technologies interpret and convey information accurately. Ignoring semantic HTML may cause confusion for users who depend on screen readers.

  • Complex language: any text that isn’t clear and simple to understand, or uses a lot of jargon, can confuse and exclude any type of user, regardless of disability.

  • Poor support: experiences that don’t work across a breadth of devices and platforms can lead some users to be excluded based on their preferred technology choices.

How damaging can poor UX accessibility be?

You might think that inadequate UX and accessibility just leads to a few users feeling dissatisfied with their experience now and again. But the problem can be much larger than that, especially given that digitally excluding people with disabilities can count as discrimination. In 2020, more than 2500 lawsuits were filed in the United States citing website accessibility issues that were believed to be in breach of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

No business is safe from the risk of poor accessibility. An Independent assessment of the top one million websites in the world uncovered an average of 51.4 errors per home page. And the effects of failings in this area can spread far and wide throughout an organization:

User exclusion User exclusion:

Designs that are not accessible prevent people with disabilities from accessing information, products, or services, restricting their ability to engage fully. This exclusion doesn't just impact the individuals directly; it also represents a missed opportunity for businesses to connect with a more extensive and diverse audience.

Poor brand perception Poor brand perception:

When users face accessibility obstacles, it can lead to a negative perception of the brand. If a website or application is challenging to navigate or excludes specific users, it may give the impression that the brand lacks inclusivity and doesn't prioritize diverse user needs.

Non-compliance Non-compliance:

Poor accessibility may expose businesses to legal risks, especially in regions with regulations requiring digital accessibility compliance. Failure to comply with accessibility standards can lead to legal challenges

Loss of customers and revenue Loss of customers and revenue:

Designs that are not accessible may cause users to experience frustration and may lead to them abandoning the platform. This can result in the loss of potential customers and revenue for the business.

Lack of social responsibility Lack of social responsibility:

Users increasingly value social responsibility and businesses are expected to uphold ethical standards. A lack of accessibility can be viewed as a failure to meet these standards, affecting a brand's image in the eyes of socially conscious consumers.

Competitive disadvantage Competitive disadvantage:

Designs lacking accessibility features can place a business at a competitive disadvantage. Brands that prioritize accessibility showcase a dedication to inclusivity, becoming a distinguishing factor in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

Lower customer loyalty Lower customer loyalty:

Brands that invest in creating an inclusive and accessible UX experience build trust with their users. This trust fosters heightened customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals. 

Poorer SEO performance-1 (1) Poorer SEO performance:

Search engines are placing growing importance on accessibility factors within their algorithms. Websites that lack accessibility may experience adverse effects on their search engine rankings, reducing visibility and discoverability.

low employee morale Lower employee morale:

The internal perception of a brand can also be influenced by its commitment to accessibility. Employees may feel more positively about working for a company that values inclusivity and accessibility in its digital products.

The role of UX in improving accessibility

Improving accessibility starts with user experience, and improving user experience starts with technology. The good news is that many of the technological advances that have been made in recent years can play a leading role in enhancing accessibility, and connecting more people to more applications and more information. Some of the practical uses of new tech in accessibility include:

  • Voice user interfaces: virtual assistants and voice commands offer an alternative means of interaction for users facing motor or visual impairments.

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning: smart technologies are being harnessed to develop user experiences that are more personalized and adaptive. These technologies have the capability to learn from user behavior and preferences, enhancing interfaces to be more intuitive and accommodating to individual needs.

  • Augmented and virtual reality: Augmented Reality (AR) can offer immediate visual support for users with visual impairments, while Virtual Reality (VR) can replicate experiences for users with mobility limitations.

  • Neurotechnology and Brain-Computer Interfaces: advancements in these areas are opening new possibilities for users with severe motor disabilities. These interfaces allow users to control devices directly with their brain signals, bypassing the need for traditional input methods.

  • Inclusive design systems: prioritizing inclusivity from the outset is becoming more prevalent within design systems Inclusive design involves considering the needs of diverse users throughout the design process, resulting in products that are accessible to a broader range of individuals.

  • Enhanced haptic feedback: advancements in haptic feedback technology are elevating the tactile experience for users with visual impairments. Devices now offer more refined tactile feedback, assisting users in navigation and interaction.

  • Wearables: wearable devices with health monitoring features contribute to accessibility by offering real-time health data. This is especially beneficial for users with specific health conditions who can gain advantages from continuous monitoring.

  • Real-time translation and multilingual support: instant translation features and robust multilingual support in applications contribute to accessibility for users with language-related challenges.

Driving business success through accessibility

With the right choices of the above technologies, it becomes far easier and more practical to take UX accessibility to the next level. When everyone is able to use websites and apps quickly, easily and without stress, everybody wins - not just the users, but your business too, thanks to:

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At Ciklum, we’ve seen how transformative a tech-led approach to accessibility can be, thanks to the work we’ve done in partnership with two of our customers. Interflex, who specialize in security and workforce management solutions, needed to make some changes to their mobile app to boost accessibility. Driving improved UX with better structure at the coding stage helped them get a new product to market first, and win their biggest-ever public-sector contract.

Similarly, the market-leading travel and holiday company TUI, came to us to align their existing web application with standard accessibility guidelines. Through our training program, our identification and addressing of accessibility issues, and testing of relevant toolsets and technology stacks, we were able to achieve the WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standard for TUI. In the process, more than 100 of its engineers participated in accessibility-related training, further empowering the company to bake in accessibility in the long-term.

Starting a journey towards an accessible future

There’s a lot to take in when it comes to UX and accessibility, and it’s easy for the task of making improvements to feel daunting. This is especially the case now improvements are being driven by some of the latest innovations around, as it can feel complex and expensive to get the right technologies in place.

This is where partnering with a company like Ciklum can be so invaluable. Our global team of technology experts are well-versed in advanced tech such as AI, and in supporting the accessibility journeys of businesses like yours. We can assess your current platforms and applications for an accessibility platform, and pinpoint exactly where and how to make improvements, so that you invest in all the right areas and none of the wrong ones. 

That way, you can create digital experiences that everyone who interacts with your brand will love. Find out more by getting in touch with our team.

 

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