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Handicap accessible websites welcome more visitors to your business

Handicap accessible websites welcome more visitors to your business

My father was blind, which makes the topic of disabled access dear to my heart.

As a kid, I had to learn not to do things like leave things in the floor for him to trip on, so I'm naturally more aware of the ramifications of limited access and how much sighted people take for granted.

Have you ever stopped to think about what it would be like to not be able to see a website, though, or use a mouse to navigate a site? Or what you have on your site that could, in effect, trip someone up?

Collective Hub magazine coverAbout 8 million people in the US are blind or have a significant vision impairment, making it difficult or impossible for them to see your site. Another 20 million people have difficulty lifting or grasping, which can affect their ability to use a mouse or keyboard to navigate.

Recently I had a feature about accessible websites in Collective Hub magazine, which is sold in print in 37 countries and digitally worldwide.

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How I knew healthcare.gov had problems within 5 seconds

Note: This post is not meant to take a position on either side of the Affordable Care Act debate, and is strictly about the website and its many problems.

I've been developing websites for 17 years and have learned over the years that when there are major problems with a site it usually comes down to 2 types of problems:

  • those caused by a designer/developer (individual or company) who was being relied upon for professional advice and service and either couldn't or didn't deliver, and
  • those caused by the client by demanding that the designer/developer do something that goes against their advice.

healthcare.gov website problems are the perfect stormHealthcare.gov is the perfect storm of both of these types of problems.

I'm not referring to everyday problems common in site development, things like cross-browser compatibility, but fundamental problems in architecture and usability.

The day healthcare.gov launched I visited the site to see if a family member could save money on their policy. Within 5 seconds of being on the site I learned that all of my relative's personal data had to be submitted before I could get any idea of the price range. My reaction? Leave the site.

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Gradual engagement - or It's not all about you.

Your site visitors care about one thing - how you can help them get what they want.  They don't want to read all kinds of long, boring prose about how great your company is or it's history, nor do they want to have to give you their name and email just to be able to view more information about your products or services.  Your visitors want a solution to their problem - whether they're looking to buy a product online, or whether they just want a good laugh from your joke of the day.  Don't scare them away by demanding information from them before they're ready to provide it to help themselves.

I thought the following pretty much went the way of the 90's, but recently I was researching a product and ending up on a major company's website, only to find that I couldn't even reach the product information page without encountering "let us know who your are!"  Well....NO!  I immediately left the site and returned to Google, and the company lost a sale to another site.  There are too many competitors out there for you to alienate potential customers by demanding information from them before you've earned it.

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