Last year, Level Level conducted a study where the digital accessibility of the 15 largest webshops in the Netherlands was tested. The study looked at accessibility for people who cannot use a mouse because they have, for example, a motor or visual impairment. It was not possible to place an order at 8 of these webshops.
Almost all webshops are legally obliged to be digitally accessible, as described in the European Accessibility Act. They have to comply with this by June 2025.
Following last year’s survey and in response to the responses provided by online shops, Level Level conducted the same survey again, a year later, among the 15 largest online shops by 2022. The results of this survey are alarming; at 7 of these webshops it is still not possible for disabled users who can’t use a mouse to place an order.
The survey was conducted in the period from August to December of 2022. Any changes to websites after this period were not included in the survey. Like last year, the survey was divided into a number of steps, read how the survey was conducted here (NL).
Half of the surveyed webshops are (still) inaccessible
In 2021 it turned out that it was not possible to place an order if you are blind at 8 of the 15 websites examined. In 2022, this number dropped by 1. This means that at 7 of the largest online shops, accessibility problems are still so severe that people who cannot use a mouse cannot place an order here.
The following results apply to placing an order by people who cannot use a mouse.
So first of all, there is one webshop that did not pass last year’s test, but does so this year; Jumbo. Jumbo has been actively working on eliminating a number of bottlenecks. As a result we were able to completely finish the ordering process, unlike last year. Last year, we were able to complete 55% of the steps using the keyboard and/or screen reader and were unable to place an order. This year, we can complete 75% of the steps and the order can be completed successfully!
People who cannot use a mouse cannot place an order at the following webshops:
Belsimpel is a newcomer this year in the top 15 of the largest webshops. Unfortunately the website contains a number of critical accessibility errors, making it impossible to place an order.
At the following webshops, an order could be placed by people who cannot use a mouse:
Gamma is a newcomer in the top 15 of the largest webshops and immediately claims the second highest score of 83% in the accessibility test.
The invididual reports per webshop are currently only available in dutch. The Dutch version of this report can be found here.
Did anything change?
In figure 1 and 2 we can see the difference in scores between last year and this year.
H&M is not in the top 15 of 2022, Belsimpel and Gamma are new in the 2022 list
|Website||Total score 2021 in %||Total score 2022 in %||Difference|
Almost all online shops show an improvement in the final score compared to last year. Jumbo and Mediamarkt show an increase in the final score of more than 20% For the other shops, the increase in this percentage is between 1-10%.
At Jumbo last year, it was not possible to choose a delivery time, which resulted in the fact that placing an order at Jumbo was not possible. This year, this step can be carried out entirely with the keyboard, so this is no longer a blocking factor.
About you, but not all of you.
It is concerning that a number of webshops also achieved a lower score compared to the previous year. Examples are Zalando and About You. Zalando has dropped in the final score from 64% to 57%. It was noticed that a number of steps in the ordering process were adjusted, with both positive and negative results. Especially in the checkout process, new barriers were found.
About You’s final score dropped from 49% in 2021 to 47% in 2022, due to the main menu no longer being keyboard controllable. The shopping cart, favourites and login buttons can never be used if you depend on a keyboard. Apart from this small drop, the survey results are pretty much the same as last year. Almost nothing seems to have changed about the problems we addressed in 2021.
About You responded to the 2021 survey:
[EN] “We are aware that barrier-free ordering for people with a (visual) disability is not yet possible in our fashion online shop. Due to the technical implementation, it is currently not possible for us to offer such a service. However, we are already working intensively on a solution that will enable people with visual disabilities to order in our online shop in the future.”
Unfortunately, the study that took place a year later shows that the final score of About You has dropped. In 2021 it turned out that a number of crucial steps in the ordering process could not be carried out. The same steps were tested again in 2022, with the same results. For example, it is not possible to create an account, enter a delivery address or choose a payment method. As a result, an order can never be completed.
Most online shops in this study have slightly improved by 2022. It is good to see that these shops are taking steps to become more accessible. What is striking is that several online shops have made changes that have both positively and negatively affected accessibility.
Ikea, for example, has spent time on the search functionality and adding products to the shopping basket, resulting in a positive change. However, logging in has become more difficult and there has been no improvement in the steps that make it possible to actually place an order. For example, it is still not possible to choose a payment method, so an order can never be completed.
Coolblue has improved the registration process, which now makes creating an account a lot easier. Last year, it was difficult to ask for help via the site. This year, that has been improved. Unfortunately, changing a product, by choosing a different colour for example, is no longer possible. Last year, this was still possible.
Another notable webshop in this study is Wehkamp, which scores exactly the same as last year in many areas. Little seems to have changed. In response to last year’s survey, Wehkamp said (translated to English):
In recent years, we have focused strongly on further optimising our website and app, with the aim of offering our customers the most inspiring, carefully curated and relevant online shop for fashion. and provide housing.
We recognize the opportunity to better serve the designated target group with a disability. We are therefore taking the suggestions to heart and will look at how we can improve accessibility for this target group.
It seems as if it is stated here that the target group of people with a disability is an optional extra target group.
Anyone, at any age, of any gender, in any location, can have a disability, and anyone can become disabled at any time. People with a disability are not a target group that you choose. It is a group of people who are part of your target group. How is it possible that this group is so often overlooked?
Why haven’t the scores gone up much this year?
Lack of knowledge
Often, the product owners, designers and developers have too little knowledge. On the one hand, there is a lack of knowledge about how different people with different disabilities use a website. On the other hand, there is a lack of knowledge about how websites can be made accessible from the start.
The lack of this knowledge has several causes. For example, in many study programs little or no attention is paid to digital accessibility.
Many students are young and test the products they produce as they are used to; by looking and clicking. They are simply unaware that not everyone can see or navigate the website this way.
The guidelines are unclear/difficult
The accessibility of a website can be tested against a number of criteria, as set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These criteria are described in complex language and there is no concrete way to meet a criterion by default. This makes the criteria difficult to understand and therefore difficult to implement while designing and building a website.
In our experience, there is often a wrong mindset about accessibility. “Why should we adapt our entire website for that one blind person”. “It’s way too expensive to make our website accessible”. “People with disabilities don’t use phones/computers”.
As mentioned earlier, 1 in 4 people in the Netherlands have some form of disability and they benefit greatly from using a telephone/computer. The WCAG guidelines apply to all forms of disability, not just blind people. In addition, a number of accessibility guidelines go hand in hand with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). By becoming more accessible, you can therefore increase the visibility of your website. This means that you can significantly increase the reach of your website and attract more customers by becoming accessible.
Not enough experts
As mentioned earlier, the established criteria for accessibility are often difficult to understand. Trained/certified people in the Netherlands who know about the legislation, the criteria (WCAG) and the different ways of testing websites are scarce. There is no standard training for it either, plus it requires certain knowledge and experience in web design, web development and different types of assistive technologies to be properly trained.
So, how do we make sure we will see better scores next year?
It all starts with awareness. By learning how different users have different ways of navigating a website, and by learning about the different types of assistive technologies, a team can take this into consideration when adjusting their website.
By including different types of people more often when testing your website, including people with visual, cognitive or motor disabilities, for example, you can soon find out whether your website can be used in different ways at all. At seven webshops in the study, it is not possible to place an order if you are not able to use a mouse. These are problems that can be identified and solved early on during user testing.
It is also important that designers, web developers and content editors are trained in digital accessibility, so that delivering an accessible website becomes the standard and not an afterthought. It is also important that what is delivered is also tested against accessibility criteria (WCAG).
If webshops want to comply with the new legislation by 2025, it is important that bigger steps are taken in the coming years, including significant improvements. Only by addressing the recommendations on time will it be possible to comply with the European Accessibility Act by June 2025.
An accessible webshop, courses for the whole team!
Product owners, developers, content specialists and designers. Everyone on your team can make an active contribution to improving digital accessibility. Our sister company the A11Y Collective offers customized digital accessibility training for every expertise. With the right training, your team will be able to make important changes on their own.
Convinced of the importance of an accessible webshop?
We’ll build along with you