You’ve spent a lot of time thinking and planning and working, but now it’s finally time to launch your website.
You eagerly wait for the hits to start piling up as you start your Facebook and Twitter ad campaign. Though the initial numbers look good, eventually they taper off.
You start to freak out. You were sure it would work. But soon, you’re forced to close the doors on your new business, “Grandma’s Crochet Supply.” What went wrong?
It might not have been your product or anything wrong with your store. It might just have been something as simple as your audience’s inability to find you. How did this happen?
It turns out, a big audience for crochet materials happens to be the blind and disabled. (This is not
true, but please bear with us for the sake of this example. Thanks.) They love to buy materials and discuss advancements in the field with a million others just like them. However, your website isn’t optimized to allow these viewers to use it. If they can’t visit it, they can’t spend money.
Users who are blind or partially sighted will often use a screen reader when browsing the Internet. These programs will read all the text on the website to the user so they can get around even without seeing it.
Taking a look at the website for Grandma’s Crochet Supply, you notice your store is incredibly graphics heavy. In fact, you neglected to include detailed descriptions of the various items in your store. When blind users visit your store, they have nothing to go on as the software can’t read images to them. For your next online store venture, try to keep in mind those visitors whose vision is impaired.
Another form of vision problem that can lead to problems surfing the Internet is color blindness. Approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some form of color blindness. That means those fancy, colorful graphs you have all over your store won’t mean a thing.
Also, with another look at Grandma’s Crochet, you see there are several confusing areas for people with color blindness. On one page you tell someone to click on the blue dot for navigation. The colors of the rest of your page might blend in with that dot. There go your sales from the color blind. Next time, consider the color scheme a little more when constructing your online store.
Some Internet users don’t have a handy mouse for navigating. They either use voice commands or are restricted to simple movements with a pad. If your site is difficult to navigate without a mouse, you have inadvertently ostracized these users.
One way to check the accessibility of your site without a mouse is to try using only the keyboard. See if you can get around Grandma’s Crochet Supply without using the mouse. Instead, use the tab, enter, and arrow keys. If parts of your site are difficult or impossible to access, work on changing it immediately.
One of the greatest things about the Internet is that it has made information, ideas, and, of course, shopping opportunities accessible to billions. Don’t stop your potential customers in their tracks with limited accessibility options.
Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article originally appeared.