E-Commerce Accessibility: Ensuring an Inclusive Shopping Experience

Making an e-commerce site accessible to people who have difficulty accessing its content and features with the same ease and facility as ordinary people is a focus area now. As competition and regulatory oversight become more intense, e-commerce website development services can’t ignore the accessibility aspect of e-commerce sites. 

According to market research, 2.14 billion people out of the global population of around 8 billion shop online. The number of people with disabilities is estimated to be 1.3 billion, accounting for 16% of the global population. Clearly, an e-commerce web development company must implement accessibility features for people with disabilities to access a bigger market. 

It’s not just being socially responsible to offer accessibility to this section of online shoppers; it’s also an intelligent business decision. 

Why E-commerce Accessibility is Necessary

An e-commerce business thrives on search engine optimization (SEO). Providing technical solutions for people with disabilities to access and enjoy all the content and features of an e-commerce site is part of SEO. It will help the site attract and engage such individuals optimally.     

A large number of people visit, spend time, and shop on e-commerce sites. Therefore, they can be seen as public accommodations subject to anti-discrimination laws, particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Having accessibility features on e-commerce sites can help avoid legal issues.      

Inclusive design boasts clear navigation, simple language, and keyboard compatibility. These features improve the SEO of the website and offer an enhanced user experience.   

How to Build an Accessible E-Commerce Site

Building an accessible or inclusive e-commerce site involves considering all kinds of users who might visit the site and their unique accessibility needs, and addressing them by integrating appropriate solutions into the site. 

Here are some common ways an e-commerce site can achieve a higher level of accessibility for its users. 

Visual Design

Use clear color contrast

When the difference between the colors in the foreground and background, background and text, and different elements on the page is more, it creates a high color contrast. Color contrast is a crucial design factor and affects the text’s readability. 

Individuals with visual impairments, low vision, and color blindness can find reading and navigating a website page with high color contrasts easier. Using this knowledge can be the first step to building an accessible and inclusive e-commerce site.

Descriptive alt text

Images and links are commonly used on e-commerce sites. As such, they can be hard to decipher for someone using a screen reader, restricting their accessibility to these types of content. However, a screen reader can read it if the image has an alternative text or alt text. 

Similarly, if the link is used for a complete phrase describing why a link has been used, an individual reading the content with a screen reader can better understand and enjoy the content. So, e-commerce sites should use descriptive alternative text for images and comprehensive and meaningful link text. 

Proper font sizing 

Using the right font is quite underrated.  Keeping accessibility in mind, when you decide on a font size for your e-commerce site, it should be a size that a screen reader can read easily. Choosing the right font size affects readability on different screen sizes and SEO and SERP. It also helps emphasize particular content and direct the user’s attention.

A good font size increases readability and horizontal eye motion. From an accessibility point of view, it is one of the ways you can improve a screen reader’s ability to read the content easily, making your site more accessible to your audience.  

Navigation 

Easy and quick navigation 

When users visit your e-commerce site, they use various toggle buttons, menus, buttons, and link text to find the content, products or features they seek. These navigation tools help users reach the website content they seek. If it takes longer or is challenging to reach the content, the user might change their mind and stop looking for it. They might even move out of the website. While easy navigation is a critical metric for all kinds of users, it’s more so for individuals with special needs. 

In an accessible e-commerce site, website navigation is logical, making content easily accessible for all users. 

Besides, a keyboard-friendly design allows users to access different parts of the website using the keyboard without relying on a mouse or a touch screen. A professional e-commerce &  shopify website development company will take extra care to ensure the website navigation is flawless. 

Breadcrumbs and clear labeling

Breadcrumbs are the traces of the pages you have navigated to reach the current one. They can also show you the parent pages higher in the navigational hierarchy of the website. They are displayed near the top of the page as a series of hyperlinked web pages separated by a sign greater than (>) sign. 

Breadcrumbs are highly effective navigation aids, especially for people with disabilities. The effectiveness of breadcrumbs can be further enhanced using Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) labels. They provide additional details about the purpose and functionality of an element.    

Content

Content: The text on your website should be simple and informative. When offering complex information, try to break it into simple and consumable bits of information. It helps assistive technologies such as screen readers understand and convey the message accurately. Your website shouldn‘t be bombarded with unnecessary content that makes it look messy. 

Top e-commerce website development services are keenly aware of the role that content written in an easy language with SEO requirements fully taken care of plays. They would rely only on professionals to create high-quality content that is easy to read and understand for an e-commerce site.  

E-commerce sites can also use alternative formats to convey important information, such as audio descriptions for product details.    

Functionality

Functionality: An e-commerce site uses various forms across a visitor’s journey through its site. To make the entire process accessible to people with disabilities, the e-commerce web development company should use simple forms and clear instructions. It should ensure that these features are compatible with assistive technologies.   

Video Accessibility

Closed captioning 

It is a text-based substitute for spoken content in videos. This contributes to video accessibility. This guarantees that people who are hard of hearing or deaf may access the audio content in the videos, which benefits them.

Provide transcripts for videos, which are written summaries of the material included in the videos. Users who prefer to read or who need translation services can also benefit from transcripts, in addition to those who have hearing difficulties.

Keyboard Controls: 

Provide keyboard shortcuts for users to pause, play, rewind, and adjust volume when watching videos. This guarantees smooth interaction between users and video content for those who depend on keyboard navigation or assistive technology.

Testing for accessibility

Frequent Audits:

Use both automated technologies and manual testing techniques to conduct frequent accessibility audits. While manual testing entails employing assistive technology and doing usability tests with people with impairments, automated techniques can discover typical accessibility concerns.

Usability Testing: 

Conduct usability tests with people who have impairments to learn about their experiences using your online store. To find areas that need work, pay attention to their interactions, their difficulties navigating, and their comments.

Verify that your online store conforms with accessibility guidelines like WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) by doing compliance checks. Verify that the rules applicable to alternate text, keyboard accessibility, color contrast, and other accessibility standards are being followed.

Wrapping Up

An e-commerce site is built on the belief that it will cater to a large number of visitors and customers. An essential point for an e-commerce web development company is planning for accessibility and inclusivity. It means making the website compatible for all users, including individuals with disabilities. 

In this post, we have discussed several components that make a website more accessible. Reputed e-commerce website development services can use these to make websites more accessible and compliant.  

Remember, an inclusive and accessible e-commerce site is not just a social and legal responsibility; it’s also a wise business move.it’s a calculative step to growth and success. More than a billion individuals have special needs, a significant market that needs to be tapped rather than ignored. 

Author Bio : – 

Ronak Meghani, a co-founder of Magneto IT Solutions, has been closely working with B2B & B2C digital commerce Medium and Enterprise companies since 2010 and has helped 200+ brands for building / improve their online B2B and B2C ventures in the area of contemporary eCommerce OR Customer-centric next-generation digital commerce. He recommends and proposes a digital commerce platform aligned with your business vision and objectives.