Commerce moves exponentially towards a digital space every day. Having an online business space comes with many of the same responsibilities of having a physical brick-and-mortar space. One large one is making your website ADA-friendly. Shopify merchants are increasingly learning that website accessibility is a new cost of doing business that cannot be overlooked. Today, much like commercial business spaces, websites are considered "places of public accommodation" and thus subject to the American Disabilities Act. eCommerce websites that are not ADA compliant are ripe targets for trolling law firms looking for easy money. In fact retail is the number one segment for website-related ADA lawsuits.
The American Disabilities Act, or ADA for short, was established by the Department of Justice in 2010 to create a set of standards for website design accessibility. These standards state that online software and technology, including websites, must be accessible to people with disabilities. While this is more or less a self-regulated issue, a substantial amount of benefit comes with making one's online business compatible with ADA Guidelines, and Shopify is no different. This practice is an ongoing process and one that should be a permanent part of your business operation going forward. Regular upkeep of your Shopify design stops this from being a quarterly chore and turns it into a normal part of doing business.
The benefits of making your Shopify website more accessible and compliant with ADA.
If you are looking to cast as wide of an umbrella as possible to cover a broad audience, there is no more straightforward method than making your Shopify web design more ADA-friendly. It is a small step to take that makes you more accessible to 26% of Americans, the number living with disabilities, according to the CDC.
Avoiding Cost of Litigation
There can be severe financial liabilities when it comes to not keeping your Shopify website more accessible. Even though it remains a largely self-regulating issue, there have been many successful lawsuits against spaces that were unwilling or unable to keep up with ADA compliance. Netflix and Dominos come to mind as recent examples of this.
Higher Chances of Sales with Luxury Products
Luxury storefronts can see the most significant benefit from having an ADA-compliant Shopify. Even converting a small amount of the 26% of Americans into sales can significantly profit. The collective spending of this group is estimated to be around $550 billion. That is a pool that you would be unwise not to accommodate.
The bottom line is that there are immense moral benefits to making your Shopify web design more accessible more than anything else. It is an act of good faith and the right thing to do. You are helping to make a digital space more accessible for millions of people. This step will make your audience reach much more substantial at the end of the day. When you act in good faith, it cuts short any downfalls you may have further down the line.
Ways That You Can Make Your Shopify Store ADA-Friendly
Adding Higher Contrast Color Schemes
Adding a higher contrast color scheme to your Shopify web design is a simple and aesthetically pleasing way to make your site more ADA-friendly. Good web design makes your content much more accessible to people with low vision and color deficiencies. Another good practice is to avoid reds and greens as these are the most common colors colorblindness is subjected to.
Add Meaningful Structure to Your Shopify Website Code
Structuring the code in your website’s design is another great practice to get into when making your Shopify more accessible. Nesting the information in your site appropriately with title tags(<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.) is a great example of this. Putting your headings inside an <h1> tag and subheadings in an <h2> tag can go a long way in clarifying how you display what’s on your site to an audience
Include Text Translations for Pictures and Videos
One of the biggest and best practices you can get into when making an ADA-friendly Shopify is captions and text translations for pictures and videos. These aid people with useful screen-reading software to experience the entirety of the site and get the most out of it. You should accompany images with alternative text that conveys the information that you are trying to include precisely. This practice most benefits infographics. You should also provide images with captions or transcripts that can be downloaded for people that would like to read at whatever speed they desire.
Improve Accessibility Across Multiple Devices
Improving the accessibility of your store across multiple devices might be one of the more complex ways to ensure ADA compliance for your web front, but it can be the most rewarding. Luckily Shopify makes the process easy to understand. Essentially, you should make it so that your website design translates well across multiple devices while remaining accessible. For desktops, this can take the form of making sure that it is accessible with just a keyboard. Mobile platforms require more simplistic designs, which are coincidentally also very aesthetically pleasing.
Perform Audits on Yourself Regularly
Finally, performing regular audits on your Shopify site to ensure that its ADA-friendly design remains will be the best method for making sure that you don’t end up with a significant problem every six months. This process can include making sure that your site not only supports the most recent browser versions and screen reading software but also caters to them. Keeping all of these tips in mind while adding new content to your site also lessens the burden of regular audits.
If you’d like some help making your Shopify store even more accessible, give us a shout at Exhibea at Hello@exhibea.com. We’re experts in Shopify website design, accessibility and passionate about helping others extend the reach of their websites.