As an eCommerce store owner, there’s a good chance that you pay close attention to how your website looks and the overall tone of your brand. But when was the last time you checked to make sure it worked well for visitors and shoppers with disabilities or challenges? Keep reading to learn about ADA compliance including why it is important and what could happen if you ignore it.
Is Your eCommerce Store Design ADA Compliant?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a United States civil rights law from the early nineties designed to prevent discrimination against disabled individuals. While the intent of the law was to give everyone fair access to the things they need when working, going to school, or shopping in a brick-and-mortar setting, times have changed. Now, these laws affect online access and website owners are being held accountable for maintaining certain standards.
As an eCommerce store owner, it is vital that you make sure your website meets all standards put forth in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. This list of various elements of your website must be adhered to in order to be fully ADA compliant.
So, why is ADA compliance so important? Just as if you were to own a brick-and-mortar retail store, you have to make accommodations for those with disabilities. If your website doesn’t meet certain guidelines, you could be sued and/or fined for non-compliance. Even if you thought you had it taken care of by using a platform like Shopify, but didn’t double-check.
There are numerous unscrupulous attorneys out there who make big bucks surfing the internet to find those who are not in compliance. From there, they file lawsuits to try to get settlements and often win. In fact, any website that’s looking at such a suit can generally expect $10,000 or more in costs just to fight it. Yikes!
By making sure your eCommerce store is ADA compliant from the very beginning, you can help eliminate the cost and hassle of dealing with this type of situation.
What Triggers ADA Compliance on eCommerce Store Designs?
When it comes to making sure your eCommerce store design is ADA compliant, there are essentially four triggers of categories listed in the WCAG 2.1.
- Perceivable: All website visitors should be able to perceive the content of the website using their available senses. This means that you cannot have a website that isn’t available to someone who is blind, hard of hearing, etc.
- Operable: All user interface and navigation features must be easy to operate for someone with challenges and cannot require an action that your web visitor cannot perform.
- Understandable: All website visitors must be able to understand the information on the website and how to operate the basic user interface. In this case, it means your navigation and checkout process should be simple to follow.
- Robust: All website content must be robust enough to be translated by various technologies associated with helping the hearing impaired, visually impaired, or otherwise disabled individuals.
There are various ways of accessing your website to ensure these standards are met. For example, you can find a checklist online or use the one below to review various aspects of your eCommerce store. Or you can hire an experienced web design team like ours at CAKE to do it for you.
A word of caution about using plugins and apps to get the job done, however. Often, these programs don’t do a very good job of thoroughly looking through your specific eCommerce website to find compliance issues. Their blanket approach often misses numerous areas of concern, which makes it a good idea to actually have an eCommerce consultant do your compliance review.
ADA eCommerce Website Design Compliance Checklist
Now that you know what it is, let’s look at a basic ADA website compliance checklist of elements your eCommerce website should have.
This handy guide from Yale University is a great place to get started. It walks you through various basic items you need to have to be fully compliant. Furthermore, it gives you ideas on how to fix any issues.
It is also important to have an accessibility disclaimer page somewhere on your website. This works as more of a sugar-coating approach to legal liability. If someone were ever to sue you based on the grounds that your website was non-compliant, you could always point them in the direction of the fact that you tried to address the issue prior to the complaint.
An example of the type of text you should use on this type of page would be:
At [BRAND], we are committed to providing visitors with a website that is fully accessible to the widest audience possible. We take great care in ensuring we meet this benchmark, regardless of technology or ability of our visitors. Thus, we aim to comply with all applicable rules, regulations, and standards, including WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards.
If you’re experiencing any issues or difficulty accessing any part of our online store, we urge you to contact us via email at [CUSTOMER SERVICE EMAIL ADDRESS] or by calling us at [CUSTOMER SERVICE PHONE NUMBER].
Of course, you don’t want to leave anything up to chance. If you aren’t familiar with looking at these guidelines, it is a good idea to hire a professional to complete a full WCAG 2.1 audit. Our CAKE team is incredibly familiar with these standards and can easily ensure your page meets all recommendations for accessibility.
eCommerce Store Designers for ADA Compliance
Sadly, not all eCommerce website designers understand the need for ADA compliance. What’s worse is that there are plenty out there that claim to produce websites that meet all guidelines, but most don’t even understand how the process works.
At CAKE, our goal is to always lookout for the best interests of our customers. All of our eCommerce website designs including those on the Shopify and BigCommerce platforms are checked for ADA compliance prior to launch. And, if your online store was created by someone other than our team, we can also help provide an audit to see if there are any issues with your current setup and provide tips on the best way to fix them.
Ready to ensure your online store is ADA compliant? Please contact our team at CAKE, the best eCommerce website development firm around, for further details.