The customer experience journey is dotted with countless points of divergence. A customer entering a product page through an ad they encounter on social media will have a different journey than one finding your brand through an organic search and navigating your website from the homepage. It’s your responsibility as a brand to understand those different checkpoints and provide a unique experience to those customers based on their journey. That’s a lot to account for!
But as we discuss these considerations and reduce customers to their demonstrated behaviors, we can lose sight of the fact that there are real people on the other end of the computer screen, or connected TV, or mobile device. These real people may have special needs that require special considerations in how your website functions.
Making these considerations in accessibility can be a small investment with major impact: if the goal is to have every customer feel like they’re the only customer you care about, ingraining accessibility into your customer experience plan can show customers with different needs that you’re thinking of them, which can help build brand trust.
What is Accessibility?
Essentially, accessibility refers to how your customer experience decisions are structured to accommodate for customers with some form of impairment. These impairments are typically met with some form of adaptive technology that customers use to navigate the digital world. Some examples of impairments and the technologies or techniques used to address them are as follows:
Visual: For blindness, color blindness or tunnel vision, customers may use a screen reader on a phone or require larger text options.
Hearing: For customers who are deaf or hard of hearing, they may require captions on audio-enabled media.
Mobility: For customers with difficulty in motor control, they may use a bluetooth keyboard or assistive mouse.
Cognitive and Learning: For customers with anything from dyslexia to attention disorders and retention problems, the way content is organized and broken down can help with accessibility.
6 Changes You Can Make for Better Accessibility
There are countless decisions at every point in user experience design that present an opportunity to improve accessibility. In fact, there are entire guidelines—including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG—that can be used as a roadmap for more inclusive site construction. While we won’t be getting into all of these guidelines, there are some simple considerations your brand can make right now to help improve accessibility. Here are just six of them.
Tip #1: Always Provide Captions or Transcripts
Whenever you’re producing multimedia content that includes audio, whether that be video or an audio-only recording, ensure that there is also a written translation of that content. Many video players will offer a generated closed caption, but if they don’t, provide the captions yourself to the video. If the player does provide captions, always be sure to review for accuracy.
Tip #2: Be Cognizant of Color Choices
Similar colors can be a challenge for some types of visual impairments. Always ensure that text overlays and graphics have strong contrasting colors for increased visibility.
Tip #3: Always Mind the Alt-Text
Text alternatives refer to words that appear for screen readers in place of images for the visually impaired. While it might seem like a good idea to provide lengthy, detailed descriptions of images in alt-text, instead focus on conciseness. Keep alt-text as descriptive and to-the-point as possible, typically limited to a short phrase. If an image contains substantive information—a chart or graph, for example—use a longer description that focuses on key takeaways from the graphic. Conversely, if an image is purely decorative, providing alt-text may not be essential as it will only confuse the user.
Tip #4: Focus on Organization of Content
It can be an impulse to add lengthy content to explain concepts or product information to customers. For those with cognitive impairments, however, large content blocks can be a major challenge. Try to include bulleted lists of key takeaways, headings, and subheadings for simple navigation, and speak in plain language that avoids jargon.
Tip #5: Keep Page Design and Text Consistent
As a customer navigates your site, try and keep page layouts the same so customers with different cognitive needs can quickly orient themselves to new pages. Similarly, text spacing and size should be consistent across a site or platform to ensure the best readability.
Tip #6: Be Descriptive and Deliberate With Link Text
Make it clear which elements on a page are interactive. Links, for example, should stand out from the rest of the text so they’re easier to navigate. Similarly, keep call-to-action, or CTA, links descriptive; rather than a CTA that simply says “Click Here”, make the link something informative like “Read Our Article on Giant Tortoises”.
Creating Institutional Change
These six tips are merely scratching the surface of accessibility decisions you should be making for your customers. While they may only represent a start, the most important takeaway is that you begin to think about accessibility on a foundational level. Ingraining accessibility discussions into your everyday conversation of site design, content development, and web development means you’re taking the unique needs of every customer seriously. This commitment to a more inclusive customer experience can have far greater benefits to your brand as a whole, and how you interact with your customers overall.
Interested in learning more about customer experience? Download the Incubeta Working Guide to Customer Experience whitepaper today.
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