2. Understanding the Big Picture
In 2011 and 2012, Karl Groves wrote an interesting series of articles that looked at the reality of business arguments for web accessibility. He points out that any argument needs to answer affirmatively to at least one of the following questions:
- Will it make us money?
- Will it save us money?
- Will it reduce risk?
He outlines a range of potential arguments for accessibility:
- Improved search engine optimization: Customers will be able to find your site more easily because search engines can index it more effectively.
- Improved usability: Customers will have a more satisfying experience, thus spend more or return to your site more often.
- Reduced website costs: Developing to standard reduces bugs and interoperability issues, reducing development costs and problems integrating with other systems.
- People with disabilities have buying power: They won’t spend if they have difficulty accessing your site; they will go to the competition that does place importance on accessibility.
- Reduced resource utilization: Building to standard reduces use of resources.
- Support for low bandwidth: If your site takes too long to load, people will go elsewhere.
- Social responsibility: Customers will come if they see you doing good for the world, and you are thinking of people with disabilities as full citizens.
- Support for aging populations: Aging populations also have money to spend and will come to your site over the less accessible, less usable competition.
- Reduced legal risk: You may be sued if you prevent equal access for citizens/customers or discriminate against people with disabilities.
What accessibility really boils down to is “quality of work,” as Groves states. So, in approaching web accessibility, you may be better off not thinking so much in terms of reducing the risk of being sued, or losing customers because your site takes too long to load. Rather, the work you do is quality work, and the website you present to your potential customers is a quality website.
Readings & References: If you’d like to learn more about business cases, here are a few references:
- Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization (W3C)
- Chasing the Web Accessibility Business Case (Karl Groves, 2012) part 1
- Chasing the Web Accessibility Business Case (Karl Groves, 2012) part 2
- Chasing the Web Accessibility Business Case (Karl Groves, 2012) conclusion
- 2 Seconds as the New Threshold of Acceptability for eCommerce Web Page Response Times (Akamai, 2009)
- Releasing Constraints: the impacts of increased accessibility on Ontario’s economy (Summary)
- Releasing Constraints: Projecting the Economic Impacts of Increased Accessibility in Ontario (Full Report) [PDF]