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“Target” Blind Accessibility to Boost Conversion

Posted By Ronald Patiro On October 4, 2007 @ 4:21 pm In Articles,Customer Focus,Optimization Tactics,Retail,Web Design | 8 Comments

target.jpgA precedent-setting U.S. Federal class action lawsuit ruling has been filed against Target [1] will that would require the click-and-mortar retailer to make its website accessible to the blind and visually impaired [2]. Online enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) could mean that e-tailers nationwide would have to ensure their sites are accessible to blind visitors, or they’ll leave the door open for another good ol’ American class action suit.

Target had 10 months since the beginning of the court case, and, so far, has refused to make minor changes to their site. The main complaints with Target’s site are as follows:

  • No alt tags on its images for screen readers to tell what an image contains
  • Visitors cannot complete their checkout process without the use of a mouse
  • Lack of descriptive headings to mark separations in a page
  • No explanations for visual maps on the site.

These are simple changes that are fundamentals to web design. In fact, a list of guidelines for creating blind-accessible pages [3] makes recommendations that are very similar to what we at Future Now advocate to increase conversion for all visitors — visually-impaired or not.

  • Use descriptive alt tags
  • Speak in the active voice
  • Be clear and concise
  • Write copy at a 5th grade reading level
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use bulleted lists to break apart key points
  • Use white space effectively
  • Use clear and accurate links that tell the visitor where she is going
  • Use descriptive titles, headings, and headlines
  • Make one key point per page
  • Use the simplest words you can to get your point across (think “Occam’s Razor [4]“)

optimization_hierarchy.jpg [5]In his ClickZ column, Bryan Eisenberg places accessibility as the second level in the “Heirarchy of Optimization [6]“.

Want to know if your site is accessible? Here’s a list of elements you can use to check if your website is accessible to the blind and visually impaired, and to make sure you’re not the Federal Government’s next Target:

  • Can you enlarge the text on your site and still read it? (press ctrl +)
  • Can you change the color scheme of your browser and still read everything clearly? (This is for people who are dyslexic or colorblind.)
  • Test your web copy for readability [7] (i.e., grade level), as well as the percentage of active-voice sentences.
  • Is it possible to navigate your site without a mouse? If so, can you successfully complete all necessary tasks?
  • Do you have descriptive titles, headings, and headlines?
  • Does your site rely heavily on vague links, like “click here [8]“.
  • Do you describe any image maps (define [9])?
  • Do you use descriptive alt tags?
  • If you have PDF files, do you have a link to Adobe Access [10]? Most screen readers cannot read PDF files.
  • If you have pages that rely on Flash, Java, or other plug-ins, are there alternate links to plain HTML pages?
  • Run your pages through this tool: webxact.watchfire.com [11]

The Internet has empowered many people to overcome visual limitations. But the Target ruling case raises some great questions. For instance, do you think the Americans With Disabilities Act, which created building accessibility standards, should force websites to do the same?

What do you think? If it’s not already, will you make your site accessible to the blind?

Article printed from Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow: http://www.grokdotcom.com

URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/10/04/target-blind-accessibility-to-boost-conversion/

URLs in this post:

[1] Target: http://www.target.com

[2] accessible to the blind and visually impaired: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071003-lawsuit-over-website-accessibility-for-the-blind-becomes-class-action.html

[3] guidelines for creating blind-accessible pages: http://www.icthubknowledgebase.org.uk/websiteaccessibilitytips

[4] Occam’s Razor: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/occams-razor-what/

[5] Image: http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/Ron/optimization_hierarchy.jpg

[6] Heirarchy of Optimization: http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3625392

[7] Test your web copy for readability: http://www.grokdotcom.com/topics/readability.htm

[8] click here: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/09/26/click-here/

[9] define: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_map

[10] Adobe Access: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/access_onlinetools.html

[11] webxact.watchfire.com: http://webxact.watchfire.com/

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