Top performing brands often have their web properties monitored and tested by accessibility experts to ensure compliance.
The rule of thumb when assessing whether your website content and code is compliant is to confirm that both search engine spiders and human beings with disabilities can access the information they need from a website without encountering major obstacles.
For example, if you have images on your website, visually impaired visitors should be able to tell whatâs in each photograph. This is commonly done by placing descriptive text within the alt tags embedded into the image.
In the example below, you can see Chase.com as it would appear to most site visitors. In the second image of the Chase.com website, we've disabled the ability to display images in our web browser to demonstrate the challenges that a visually impaired person might have in experiencing Chase's content.
Fortunately, Chase adheres to web accessibility guidelines and includes descriptive alt tags in its web page code. The result? Page readers can "see" that the page image contains the following content:
"Chase Freedom. One hundred dollars bonus cash back. Details. Opens new Window."
Chase describes the image as a bonus cash back offer, and let's the user know that details are available in a new window.
Web Accessibility Features
There are some things brands can to comply with Web Accessibility guidelines:
* Adjustable font size control
* Title attributes for additional information about links
* Association of data cells in data tables with their headers
* Provide a text-only version of your website that allows text readers to "play" it
* Structural markup to indicate headings and lists to aid in page comprehension
* Association of forms with labels
* Alternative text detail for appropriate images and other non-text elements Key Performance Indicators
The Heardable brand effectiveness platform looks at two key performance indicators to assess whether a brand is adhering to web accessibility guidelines:
Alt tags - We look at a random sampling of website pages to determine what percentage of all images have alt tags containing descriptive content. Goal is to be 100% optimized.
Adjustable font size - We look at a random sampling of a brand's website pages to determine if text size adjustment code is present. Goal is for thos capabilty to be found.
When added together, the six Heardable subscores contribute to a brand's total brand health score. 1,000 is the scoring limit. Here are the total possible points for each subscore:
1. Portable: 200 points
2. Searchable: 200 points
3. Sociable: 200 points
4. Measurable: 100 points
5. Actionable: 150 points
* Web accessibility
* Live chat
* Trust marks
* Persuasive content
* Contact methods
6. Shareable: 150 points
Actionable subscore breakout
* Actionable makes up 15% of a brand's Heardable Score, or 150 points
* Web accessibilty makes up about 30% of a brand's Actionable subscore
* Alt tags are most important, weighted 9:1 over adjustable font size
Web Accessibility: Why It Matters
If you are a large brand, you may be at legal risk for non-compliance if you fail to make reasonable efforts to ensure that your website complies with web accessibility guidelines.
Another reason why it's important to comply with web accessibility guidelines is the good web usability aligns with corporate governance. Being helpful to all of your website visitors means you are a brand who practices what it preaches in the areas of diversity, affinity and accessibility. It's just good business practice to be in compliance.
A third reason it makes sense to comply with web accessibility standards is SEO (search engine optimization). Often times, web usability best practices -- such as making it easier for those whom are visually impaired to experience your website -- are the same actions that tend to make it easier for search engine bots to do similar activities. Highly accessible websites tend to be SEO-friendly too, which is an added benefit of being compliant.
Following SEO best practices is smart for you business. Did you know that SEO traffic converts 60% more often, spends 50% more, and views 82% more web pages than non-SEO traffic (Source: Bazaarvoice case study with major electronics retailer).
How to Interpret Our Actionable Charts
Heardable's 3 actionable charts - Customer Focus, Actionable Elements, and Trust/Security - measure how easy a brand has made it to respond, communicate, and transact with them.
The Customer Focus chart compares the frequency of customer-focused words appearing on a brand's website versus brand-focused words. Addressing your customers and their needs tends to elicit greater response rates. The more orange you see covering the circle, the better you're doing.
The outer ring of the Actionable Elements chart examines how easy a brand makes it for site visitors to interact and transact with them using common features such as email, fax, phone, forms, and live chat. Many brands bury these features deep in their site or fail to include them, which frustrates consumers. The more orange you see, the better. The inner circle measures the percentage of alt tags optimized, which is one way brands can adhere to web accessibility guidelines.
The outer ring of the Trust/Security charts uses the color orange to validate whether trust seals have been deployed on a brand's website. The inner circle shows the percentage of SSL support completed, in orange. Trust marks and SSL certs help to convince website visitors that their customer information is safeguarded, the website they're on is a real business with a good reputation, and indicates a commitment to the customer.
Note: Studies have shown that persuasive website content, trust marks, and contact tools can dramatically improve website conversion rates.
How to Improve Your Actionable Subcore
Being Actionable means making it as easy as possible for your website visitors to trust you, review your content, ask questions, contact you in many ways, and purchase from you. Actionable brands tend to be highly optimized in several areas, such as putting phone numbers and other contact information on every page of their websites, or utilizing trust marks to instill user confidence.
Improving web accessibility will likely improve a brand's actionable subscore, since web assessibility makes up 30% of the 150 points assigned to being actionable.
Tips on improving web accessibility:
* Review section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
* Audit all the images on your website to ensure that descriptive content is included in all alt tags
* Add code to your website that allows visitors to make text size adjustments
* Hire a consultant or empower a member of your staff to take on web accessibility improvement
* Review your website with a text reader to see how well your site "reads'
* Rescan your brand on Heardable.com to see if your score has improved
Need Help With Web Accessibility?
The team at Heardable can answer any questions you may have about web accessibility. Our experts offer a free, no obligation consultation -- so give us a call today!
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Being Heardable, the Heardable Blog, is curated by Heardable co-founder and digital marketing veteran, Jon Samsel. Jon is based in Los Angeles, and Singapore.