Costly Online Business Mistake: Ignoring People With Disabilities
Businesses are leaving millions of dollars on the table as frustrated disabled shoppers abandon websites that can’t be browsed.
In the UK, companies that ignored this slice of the market lost around £ 17 billion (NZ $ 32 billion) per year. Crowded web pages with too much content caused the biggest problems, followed by Captcha authentication testing. Information on links and navigation, as well as filling out forms, was also a barrier, according to the 2019 Click-Away Pound report.
New Zealanders have faced the same hurdles, said Jonathan Mosen, chief executive of employment organization Workbridge.
“If I go to a business website and that website is not accessible, I have several choices. I can get someone’s help to help me use the website, or I can go elsewhere.
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“Usually I go somewhere else because my feeling is that if the website isn’t accessible they don’t want my business, then I’ll go somewhere that values my business that’s accessible.”
Mosen, who was blind and hard of hearing, was a very experienced technology user. It could get around issues that some people might think of as “show stoppers,” but most commercial websites had some sort of accessibility issue, he said.
Links or buttons on a web page might look pretty, but if they didn’t have alt text, a screen reader, which speaks or braille displays what’s on the screen, doesn’t know what’s on the screen. to do.
“A lot of times you just tab and hear things like ‘button, button, button’ or links that have long, convoluted names that are really funny, and you have no idea what they’re doing. “
The companies have effectively put up a “blind people prohibited” sign by being inaccessible, he said.
“They’re actually losing business.”
There isn’t a lot of detailed research on the purchasing power of people with disabilities, but it’s estimated that households with one person with a disability spend $ 52 billion a year, NZIER Deputy Managing Director Todd Krieble said.
“High Street is missing millions of dollars,” he said.
There are nearly a million people with disabilities in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The over-65 segment of this particular population has strong purchasing power, and is expected to grow from $ 20 billion per year to $ 100 billion by 2061.
Krieble said some companies are increasing their game, for example banks, for whom increasing online business is a win-win.
Despite the challenges, online shopping has opened up the world for people with access issues, from grocery shopping to the ability to surprise someone with a gift, Mosen said.
“It’s incredibly liberating and it just takes a little thought to make sure things are designed correctly.
Mosen suggested that business owners ask users to give honest feedback on the accessibility of their website, such as providing an email address on the website monitored by a staff member.
“There are real end users who would be only too happy to tell you where you could improve.”
Tauranga-based kombucha maker GoodBuzz didn’t have the access community in mind when designing their website, but the company really wanted to make it simple to use, CEO Ryan Christensen said. .
“We want someone to access our product with minimal clicks. In four clicks, you can buy whatever you want.
One of its biggest customers is blind and calls quite regularly to place orders, Christensen said. She had gotten to know the people in the office and loved the connection.
Making life easier for customers was just about being human, as well as being a good business decision, and it wasn’t difficult, he said.
Minnie Baragwanath, founder of Be. Lab, said people who are blind, visually impaired and have dexterity issues are not being served well.
“From the moment we start designing a website, we can either design people or design them,” said Baragwanath, who was blind.
“In some areas it could improve, but fundamentally it’s not just an accepted norm or standard that every website, every shopping platform is designed for everyone. We’re just not there yet, unfortunately.
Websites with too much movement were a major issue, as was the inconsistency in the layout, she said. The sites had to be compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies, such as magnification software.
A clearly visible phone number to call for help was also helpful.
“Basically, a simple, clean, usable and accessible website is ideal. I would say it is ideal for everyone.
Companies have made the mistake of undervaluing the purchasing power of people with access problems, including the elderly.
“We really need to change the way we think about it and wake up to what we call the yellow dollar, the accessibility dollar, as more and more people with access needs are now educated, employed and in need. money to spend, ”she said.