How To Make A Shopify Store Accessible And Inclusive
Excellent user experience is a core component of building a successful ecommerce store. If you want customers to engage with your Shopify presence, you need to invest in UI/UX practices to ensure every interaction is as streamlined and convenient as possible.
Unfortunately, while most Shopify developers and designers work hard to deliver an excellent user experience for their customers, there are still some sub-groups of consumers who are commonly overlooked by traditional web design processes.
Designers aren’t being “deliberately” exclusive, but they often forget to address the needs of people with disabilities when creating the ultimate store.
This is becoming a growing problem in today’s digitally transforming world. As more consumers navigate onto the online world, it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure you’re building your UX/UI strategy around the needs of all users.
In other words, you need to make sure you’re prioritizing inclusion, and accessibility.
What is Web Accessibility? Making Stores More Inclusive
Delivering “web accessibility” means designing stores, apps, themes, and experiences in the Shopify landscape that are accessible to all people – including those with disabilities. This might seem like an obvious part of any UX/UI design, but it’s something that’s very commonly overlooked.
Despite the fact that in the US alone, 26% of people have some kind of disability, countless websites and stores still fail to adhere to the standards set by web accessibility regulations.
In fact, according to one report, around 94% of ecommerce stores are not compliant with basic web accessibility guidelines. So, why is this a problem?
First of all, failing to create an accessible, inclusive interface for a Shopify store means you’re actively alienating a significant group of people.
Essentially, 1 in 4 people from the US might not be able to access your store to purchase goods and services. This cuts your sales opportunities significantly. It’s not just people with disabilities that you’re alienating either. We’re living in a world where customers are actively looking to buy from more socially and ethically conscious brands.
According to a Deloitte study, around 57% of consumers surveyed said they were more loyal to brands who demonstrate a commitment to addressing “social inequities”. Failing to have an accessible store could mean you lose the support of your most loyal customers.
Secondly, web accessibility is actually required by law in some parts of the world. ADA law in the United States requires businesses to ensure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities.
Simply put, creating an accessible and inclusive Shopify store isn’t just a good idea – it’s a necessity if you want to compete in today’s ecommerce landscape.
How Can You Make Shopify Stores More Accessible?
The good news is creating a more accessible and inclusive Shopify store is actually a lot easier than you might think. Not only does Shopify provide developers and designers with a range of ways to customize their stores to suit different needs, but the ecommerce website builder is actively working towards making every store more accessible.
To submit a theme to the Shopify Theme directory today, developers need to first ensure it adheres to all of the correct accessibility guidelines. This means any designer leveraging an existing Shopify theme can rest assured they’ll be working on an “accessible” template.
Additionally, if you’re building a theme from scratch, Shopify offers various tips and insights to help you ensure it adheres to accessibility guidelines. For instance, you can use the Lighthouse Suite of accessibility testing tools to ensure your theme has the right score.
Once you’ve chosen or built an accessible theme for Shopify, implementing some basic web accessibility strategies is relatively straightforward. For instance, you can:
- Include Alt Text for Images
ALT text is a surprisingly powerful tool in the Shopify landscape. It’s essentially the “alternative text” that appears when website images can’t load. But it also has a number of other useful functions. ALT text tells Google and other search engines about the context of the image, providing keywords and metadata that helps a store to rank on the search result pages.
ALT text can also be read aloud by screen readers, helping users with visibility issues to browse through a store catalogue or web page. This means people who can’t see a photo can still get a good idea of what the item they’re buying is going to look like.
To get a good accessibility score, make sure all of your images and non-text elements are represented with accurate, descriptive alt-text.
- Rethink Video Content
One of the ways Shopify store designers are improving the user experience for the average customer, is by including more video content in product pages and other parts of a website. Videos can help to show a customer a product from all angles, and provide access to extra information for people who want to learn more about an item before purchasing.
However, for people with auditory impairments, video can also present a problem. That’s why it’s so important to include captions within the video. Captions should reflect the spoken words in the content, in a way that’s easy for consumers to follow.
Adding captions to videos can also help them to appeal to a wider range of customers, because countless consumers actually prefer to watch video without sound. In fact, 69% of people view videos with the sound switched off.
- Make Navigation Simple
Good navigation is a relatively fundamental part of building a good store for any customer. No client wants to spend forever tapping through pages to find the information they want. However, navigating a website can be particularly problematic for people with mobility issues if you’re not careful.
A good way for designers and developers to make Shopify stores more accessible, is to enhance navigation by allowing people to move through images by pressing arrow keys on a keyboard, rather than clicking on a button. Additionally, it might be worth thinking about how people navigate through a website using a mobile device.
Text and buttons should be able to scale according to the needs of the individual user, not just the smartphone or tablet they’re using. Make sure web pages, text, and buttons are all scalable, and easy to navigate for people from any background.
- Remember Color Contrast
Using color effectively is one of the first things many Shopify designers will learn to do. Color can have an emotional impact on an audience, drive attention to buy buttons and CTA links, and even make your website look more appealing.
However, it’s important to remember to choose the right colors to make your store more accessible. Around 8% of the population are predicted to suffer from red-green color deficiency, making careful color selection even more crucial to designers.
Contrast sensitivity can also be an issue, as older users, and people with various visual conditions can suffer from low contrast sensitivity. This means it’s important to ensure the different parts of your website have the right degree of contrast for legibility.
Making Your Shopify Store More Accessible
Making a Shopify store more accessible and inclusive isn’t nearly as complicated as it might seem. Fundamentally, it just involves thinking about the needs of all users when creating a design. There are even Shopify apps available to help you, like Accessibly, which helps you to track just how accessible your content is on every page, and gives you tips on how to improve your results.
With just a little tweak to your Shopify design strategy, you can effectively ensure your Shopify store can appeal to everyone and anyone, no matter their abilities.