In the rapid world of online shopping, eCommerce businesses work hard to make things better for users and increase their customers. While doing this, it's crucial not to forget about the issue of accessibility for all the users. This is especially important when it comes to something called ADA compliance.
ADA compliance entails making sure that users with disabilities can use websites and online shops just as easily as everyone else. Many businesses know how important it is to follow these rules so that everyone can have the same prerequisites online.
In this article, we will uncover ADA compliance lessons learned from a client that will remain anonymous. This client is a retailer, who made sure that their eCommerce website followed the ADA laws so everyone can use it without obstacles. Ensuring ADA compliance on eCommerce sites such as Shopify can help prevent legal issues and make shopping online more user-friendly for everyone.
Why is it important to ensure ADA compliance?
Ensuring ADA compliance is of most importance for online businesses striving to succeed. It guarantees that individuals with sensory, mobility, cognitive and other disabilities can navigate and utilise your online store without encountering barriers.
By prioritising accessibility, eCommerce enterprises not only broaden their potential customer base but also cultivate a reputation for fostering inclusivity and equal access to goods and services. Ensuring ADA compliance allows more users to browse and shop in your online store which impacts the overall success for your eCommerce.
Law Firms exploiting ADA compliance gaps
There are some law firms that have discovered a way to focus on online shops, mainly those selling clothing. They use automatic tools to find problems with ADA compliance, and if an online store fails the accessibility tests, these firms consider legal actions.
To avoid getting caught in legal problems, our client has taken a few smart precautions. They make sure to follow the recommendations for accessibility and stick to the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) rules.
The Aim: Staying Out of the Radar
Our client aims to protect themselves from possible legal issues. They do this by following a set of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to streamline their online business. These rules make it less likely for automatic scanning tools to find problems on their websites.
Whenever they add new things to the website, the client’s team makes sure not to create any new obstacles that could cause issues.
8 top tips for ADA compliance
In the dynamic and fast-paced world of eCommerce, ensuring accessibility is not just a choice, it is imperative. This quick guide presents 8 essential tips for achieving ADA compliance so that your online store welcomes and serves all customers–regardless of their disabilities.
1. Alt Text for Images
One of the cornerstones of ADA compliance is providing accurate alt text for images. Alt image texts are brief descriptions added to an image to explain the content to those who can’t see the image.
Our client diligently adds alt attributes to all images, except product media. The text for alt images follows specific rules if the image:
- Contains text, then every word must be included in the alt text.
- Is a link, then the alt text should describe the link’s purpose or destination.
- Contains important visual content, then describe it colloquially in the alt tag.
2. Descriptive links
Links should be descriptive enough to convey their purpose without additional context. Our client avoids using vague link texts like "Click here" and opt for more informative alternatives such as “Our High-Rise Gauze Shorts are made....” This not only improves accessibility, but also benefits SEO.
3. Proper heading structure
Our client maintains a clear heading structure to aid navigation. Each page should have only one H1 tag that describes the page topic, followed by H2 for section headings and H3 for subtopics. Skipping heading levels should be avoided.
4. Validating accessibility
Our client’s development team regularly validates their work using tools like Wave by WebAim and Google Lighthouse. These tools identify potential accessibility barriers and offer insights into improvements that can be made.
5. Correct use of HTML tag
Using the appropriate HTML tags is paramount for accessibility. HTML tags are special markers to help structure, organize and explain content on a website or eCommerce site.
Our client ensures that links and buttons are labelled correctly and never add links inside another link, or links inside buttons. This is important to avoid significant markup errors.
6. Proper form labels and inputs
Accessible labels for input fields and buttons are crucial for users with disabilities. Accessible labels are clear descriptions to make it easy for the user to understand and interact with the content while browsing the online store.
Our client uses the right HTML elements and include visually hidden labels when necessary. Doing this when needed ensures that everyone can effectively navigate and understand the content.
7. Tables done correctly
When creating tables, our client follows the correct structure using thead, th, tbody, and td elements. This is important as it allows screen readers to correctly understand and explain the information inside the labels, which makes the online store more accessible for users with visual impairments.
8. HTML5 form validation
Ensuring that forms are validated according to HTML5 standards is a practice that makes sure individuals with visual impairments can access essential information within form fields. This allows the user to comprehend and interact with options related to products and other interactive elements.
What other eCommerce businesses can learn from our client
Our client highlights the importance of putting accessibility first to expand customer reach and create inclusivity in online shopping. ADA compliance is crucial for this success. Our client takes proactive steps to ensure accessibility by following guidelines, rules, recommendations and working according to SOPs.
Other eCommerce businesses can learn from their dedication to making online experiences inclusive and valuable.
If you want your online store to be equally inclusive and require professional assistance in ensuring ADA compliance for your theme, feel free to get in touch with us. We are happy to provide the necessary expertise and resources to make your online store accessible for all your customers.
Key takeaway: Prioritise ADA compliance for a better shopping experience for everyone
Our client sets an exemplary standard for ADA compliance in the eCommerce sector. By following best practices for accessibility, they not only reduce the risk of lawsuits from automated scanning tools but also provide an inclusive and enjoyable shopping experience for all their customers.
These practices, spanning from alt text usage to correct HTML tagging, offer a roadmap for other online businesses to ensure their digital platforms are equally accessible to everyone.