How to make your site accessible to the mature market

Accord will be exhibiting at Marketing Show North this year.

Online accessibility is not just a “nice-to-have” initiative. It’s a crucial way of ensuring that you are inclusive and considerate of all your customers, whatever their ability levels.

Although we have come a long way in recent years, there are still several improvements that most companies can make in order to deliver best practice and meet the needs of those with specific accessibility requirements.

Indeed, it seems an obvious point to make but if people cannot access and navigate your website, your enquiries and online conversions will ultimately suffer. This is especially important in the mature sector, where 44% of adults over state pension age have a disability.

So, using the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, we’ve provided a handy guide of quick steps you can take to ensure that your website is accessible for audiences with visual, auditory or physical impairments.

Visual accessibility

In the UK, 2 million people have sight problems, which equates to around 1 in 30 people. So, given that one of the biggest health issues faced by those aged over 50 is sight deterioration, making your website images neat and ordered is particularly important if you offer products or services that target the mature market.

There are many simple methods to achieve better visual accessibility. By implementing an adjustable text sizing feature, you can give users the opportunity to alter text to whichever font size is easiest for them to read. Likewise, it is also important to use a colour palette that is not visually-restrictive. For instance, although black text on a white background is a common choice, it is not always the best option. The best way to assess which colour-combination is most effective for your audience is through user testing, which will allow you to detect where visitors leave your site and identify any potential points of user frustration.

Another key component is alt text. Primarily required for those who use screen reading technology, alt text is a system that describes images to visitors who are unable to see them. For example, if a user is unable to see the following image the alt text would describe the picture as “smiling man riding a red mobility scooter”, allowing the user to still understand and engage with your site’s content:

In addition to making your website much more accessible for sight-impaired users, deploying alt text properly will improve your website’s quality score, as Google rewards websites that are user-friendly. This will, in turn, help boost your search ranking positions and drive more traffic.

Auditory accessibility

Of the 10 million people in the UK who suffer from hearing loss, 6.5 million are aged 60 and over. Therefore, if your site is not geared up to support those who have hearing difficulties, you could be eliminating a huge number of potential customers.

In a digital world, where the use of video has skyrocketed, those with hearing impairments can find it very difficult to engage with online content. But this does not mean that video should be dismissed entirely – in fact, it can be a very useful tool to show an undeniably self-sufficient generation how to use your products or services.

All you need to do is make sure that all videos displayed on your website use closed captioning technology. This will allow those with auditory impairments to read what is being said, so that they can still fully engage and benefit from this content format.

Physical accessibility

For those with limited manual dexterity, using a mouse can be incredibly frustrating. No business wants a user to associate their brand with feelings of irritation or resentment, so improving site navigation and usability is crucial.

One way to achieve this is by using auto-complete technology. This means that when a user has a detailed form to complete, they can automatically complete most of their personal details based on what they have entered previously, rather than retype this information from scratch. Although auto-complete technology is fulfilled by browsers, it is important to make sure that your site is carefully configured to auto-fill each section with the correct information, so that users can fully benefit from this feature. This will reduce your webpage exit rates and increase the likelihood of your forms being fully completed.

Similarly, for users who are unable to use a mouse, it is vital that you create alternative ways of moving around your website. If coded correctly, users should be able to navigate your pages by using only keyboard shortcuts, accessing everything from drop-down menus to search bars.

After all, if someone has taken the time and effort to find and engage with your website, their path to conversion should be as seamless as possible.