Accessibility and inclusion are key elements of a good ecommerce website. But sometimes accessibility features are overlooked, and potential customers are isolated. In a recent case, a court ruled that the Domino’s pizza website should be made accessible to people with disabilities after a blind man was unable to use the site. This court ruling further cements that making websites accessible to people with disabilities isn’t just a courtesy, but a legal right people should be afforded. But for brands, updating their websites to become accessible after this ruling and recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be a challenge.
At Pixlee, we’re designing our tools with accessibility and compliance in mind. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your ecommerce site will be more ADA compliant, and how Pixlee is making sure our products keep your site as accessible as possible.
What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility ensures that all people, including people with disabilities, can perceive, understand, navigate, interact, and contribute to the Web. It encompasses disabilities including visual, auditory, physical, speech, and more.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), provides an international set of guidelines for accessibility. These guidelines, published in December 2008, can be broken down into four categories:
- Perceivable – Websites must be available to the senses either through the browser or through other assistive technologies.
- Operable – Users must be able to interact with all controls using either the mouse, keyboard, or other assistive technologies.
- Understandable – Webpages are clear and limit ambiguity.
- Robust – A wide range of technologies can access the content.
Make Images Readable by Screen Readers
Alt-text is associated with images on a website that help describe what the image is when the image won’t load. If you’re familiar with SEO best practices, having alt text that accurately describes the images on your site is a no-brainer, as it allows Google to crawl your site and read the images as they’re meant to be read. But the primary purpose of alt text is to make images interpretable by screen-reading technology, as screen reading technology relies on that tag to describe the image. From an ecommerce perspective, the benefits to good alt text are twofold. Good alt text can help visually impaired site visitors get a better understanding of the product they’re exploring, and alt text will help your website rank better in search.
For brands, adding alt text for every product image, campaign hero and variant can be time-consuming and easy to overlook. But with the right technology, high-quality alt text generation can be automated.
Pixlee uses artificial intelligence to identify the content of permissioned images, and automatically applies that result to the alt text of the new UGC when it’s deployed on your website. The alt text is still fully editable, meaning you can provide additional details beyond what the AI is able to identify. This helps cut down on the manual process of writing basic descriptions of images, all while boosting your site’s accessibility and search rank
Widgets with High Contrast
Text on websites needs to have sufficient contrast with the background color to be accessible. If contrast doesn’t meet the minimum ratio, your text might not be interpretable by people with color-blindness who cannot distinguish between different colors and people with low contrast sensitivity, which is common in older people. Whether or not you’re in the process of re-evaluating your brand’s style guide to ensure it’s minimally compliant, Pixlee’s widgets can help.
The latest version of Pixlee’s lightbox and widgets (with no customizations) will default to the necessary high contrast, ensuring that your UGC is compliant and consumable. Additionally, all widgets are operable through keyboard controls, which impacts accessibility as well.
Accessibility for the Future
Accessibility is an ongoing process. As web trends and assistive technologies change, the standards for accessibility are always changing. The important thing to note here is brands will need to select technology providers that prioritize accessibility to remain compliant. At Pixlee, we’re here to partner with brands as they build better customer experiences for all of their customers.