Web Accessibility – Here’s How To Make It Profitable.

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Geschreven door Taeke Reijenga

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding web accessibility is that it’s mainly an expense. Lots of people think it’s impossible to benefit financially. In this article, I’d like to share some examples that will show you how web accessibility can in fact increase revenue and reduce expenses. 

Disclaimer: There’s no magic recipe for how to make web accessibility profitable. Every business is unique. It’s therefore crucial to carefully consider your business and revenue models. Besides that, it’s essential to get to know your target market deeply. Moreover, you’ll need to continually watch out for both opportunities and threats.

Web accessibility can increase your revenue

Stretch your target market with as many as 148 million Europeans or 1.5 billion world citizens

All institutions have their own ways to decide whether or not someone qualifies for an official diagnosis. In addition to that, they’re not even in agreement about which handicaps cause people to have trouble using the internet. And then, we haven’t even brought up the people without an official diagnosis who experience difficulties using the internet. Elderly people, for instance, whose eyes are starting to fail them. Or people with (temporary) arm or hand injuries.

We took some time to review statistics from the Dutch Accessibility Foundation, the European Commission, the United Nations and the World Bank. Considering these statistics, we think it’s safe to estimate that some 20% of the world population has a temporary or permanent restriction that hampers their use of the internet. So, for 2018 that means we’re talking about as many as 148 million Europeans and 1,5 billion people worldwide.

People with restrictions will leave your webshop without making a purchase

In the United Kingdom, research was carried out to find out the consequences of poorly accessible websites.  The results of The British Click-Away Pound Survey showed that 71% of users with a restriction leave a website that is poorly accessible. According to the survey report, the estimated spending power of this group is around 12 billion Pound per year. That is about 10% of what is spent online each year in that country.

Increase your revenue by improving web accessibility – a calculation example

Let me show you an example of how an accessible site could increase your revenue.

Imagine for a moment that you’re the e-commerce manager of an online shoe store. Your webshop sells all major brands and delivers throughout Europe. On average, your online store gets an average of 100.000 unique visitors per month. The conversion rate hovers around 3%. And the average order value is €75.

For the sake of convenience, let’s assume that:

  • 20% of your users have a restriction that hampers their use of the internet.
  • 71% of those visitors currently leave your site because it’s not accessible enough.

That leads to 71% of 20% of 100.000 visitors who leave your webshop. This amounts to some 14.200 visitors each month.

With a 3% conversion rate and a €75 average order value, you’re losing out on €31,950 in revenue each month.

€32.000 in revenue each month. That is €384.000 each year!

And it’s not like this group of people is going to hold on to their money. They’re simply spending it with any one of your competitors whose website IS accessible. Moreover, 81% of respondents in the Click-Away Pound Survey indicated that they’re willing to pay more for the same item on a website that is accessible. 

In similar ways, you’ll be able to calculate the yield of improved accessibility for other verticals. As I indicated earlier, though, it is vital to know your target audience, the opportunities and threats, and the key indicators of your market really well before assuming anything. 

World Wildlife Fund organises a record-breaking fundraiser

A while back, the World Wildlife Fund organized its most successful fundraiser ever. Within one year, they raised no less than 21 million Canadian dollars. Without boosting their marketing efforts. They simply improved the accessibility of their website. You can read all about it at TheNextWeb.com

A positive user experience could go viral

Not too long ago, research was carried out among an active community of visually handicapped people. That research indicated that some 95% of the members of this community mostly purchase online. This was shared by Jay Leventhal, an editor of AccessWorld, an online magazine of the American Foundation of the Blind in an article about the Accessibility Business Case on the LevelAcess.com website. He also explained that this group tends to share their positive online experiences with their online peers. Using a variety of channels. News spreads at the speed of light this way. And because many visually handicapped people can’t just go out on a shopping spree, they’re usually loyal to businesses with accessible websites.

Web accessibility can help cut back expenses

After the Dutch SNS bank improved the accessibility of their website, the number of calls to their call center reduced with over 15%. SNS pinpointed this reduction directly to the revised website. Before the launch of these improvements, their call center received some 20.000 calls per week. The average cost per call was between € 7,50 and €12.50. SNS Bank estimated their yearly savings at over 1,7 million Euros. Read more about this example in “ The Implementation of Web Accessibility Standards by Dutch municipalities” van Eric Velleman.

How to get started improving web accessibility?

Before you set out to request several proposals, let me share two recommendations.

Make sure to acquire some basic knowledge of web accessibility

That way, you’ll know what factors are involved in web accessibility and what to look out for. Additionally, you’ll be better able to carefully consider the services offered.

A good starting point to get a better understanding of web accessibility is the course “Web accessibility, the basics” by Rian Rietveld. In this video course Rian touches upon lots of topics, from guidelines and legislation to accessible design, code and content.

Get an independent audit or quick scan

A quick scan will provide you with a rigorous first impression of how accessible your website, platform or application currently is. When performing a full accessibility audit, we’ll dive much deeper into your code and your content. Both help you make an informed decision about what steps to take in the long and short run.

Maybe the source code turns out to be crystal clear and we’ll only have recommendations regarding content.

We could, however, also run into some serious web accessibility issues. In some cases, this will happen when your website already is up for a redesign. If you include web accessibility in your planning right from the start, and when you select an agency that has accessibility in their DNA, you shouldn’t need to pay any additional fees. Your website may not be up for a redesign for another couple of years, though. In that case, still, there are things you can do to start improving web accessibility.

Investing in web accessibility wisely starts with determining where you are now. And where you’re headed. 

Time for a clever investment in web accessibility?

Let’s meet over coffee! We gladly contribute some ideas.