Helpful Guidance For a More Personalized and ADA-Compliant Website
Many marketers still approach website development with a one-size-fits-all mentality, absent of considerations for the user experience of underserved or overlooked groups. The reality is that 26% of American adults have some type of disability according to the CDC, and the lack of customized web solutions directly impacts their ability to engage with online platforms. If your dealership website is not accessible to all who want to use it, you could lose one in four of your potential customers who need an experience beyond default settings. The moral here is that doing right by all your prospective customers means you are doing right by your business and future profit potential.
With digital consumption at all-time highs, it's more important now than ever to ensure your site is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Taking action today to establish a more flexible and accessible website is more than just a nice-to-have. Most websites are inaccessible to millions of people living with disabilities, yet federal law requires websites to be accessible so that every person can comfortably access digital content. With digital consumption at all-time highs, it's more important now than ever to ensure your site is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Here are top recommendations for ways to make your website more accessible for everyone:
Alt image text: Images can include alt text information in the back end. These are often used to provide an audio description to individuals with vision impairments, and they help with search engine optimization (SEO). For a dealer, that might mean providing a better understanding of available inventory and vehicle features.
Video captioning: Videos are a great way to draw in customers. Videos might include car tours, showing the car’s interior or giving a 360-degree view of the vehicle, or it could include salespeople describing the company’s philosophy of customer care. Without video captioning, those with hearing impairment may not be able to hear the spoken words in the videos and therefore take their business elsewhere.
Simplified page design: Some websites are overcrowded with colors, offers, photos and jarring pop-ups. People with cognitive impairments may benefit from an uncluttered website page and consistent navigation tools. Using simple, easy-to-understand language and intuitive page design is helpful for everyone, not just those with cognition challenges.
Navigate by keyboard: People who have difficulty with manual movement often prefer to navigate sites using their keyboard, but for website forms, this is especially important. Eliminating the need to use a mouse to move from field to field means that more people can submit lead forms and browse inventory with ease.
Search options: People have preferences for how they like to search for information. But those with disabilities may have limitations on their abilities to search, which is another reason why dealer websites should offer multiple search options. These could include a free-form inventory search bar, autocomplete, buttons and menus to help refine search, and tabbed content.
Personalize invitations: Customers all have communications preferences, but some may need one type over another. That’s why your website should include different options for sending information or contacting customers, whether through text message, email or phone call.
Compliance management: Websites and ADA compliance is not a one-and-done process. Websites are constantly changing as new inventory becomes available and promotions change. Website building tools must have ADA compliance built in. For example, Dealer.com works with AudioEye to ensure compliance for each dealer site. AudioEye uses automated and manual accessibility testing, with assistive technology like screen readers. This solution means that compliance management is not guesswork, it’s continually monitored, and site owners can rest easy knowing there’s an expert company overseeing it.
Show visitors you’re accessible: It’s important to let customers know you take accessibility seriously. Take advantage of offerings like certified accessibility badges for your website, so all visitors know the site is compliant and monitored by a third-party digital accessibility expert. Search engines also reward accessible websites with better SEO.
There’s no need to start from scratch when developing an ADA-compliant website. Reputable website providers should offer accessibility tools as part of the basic website package to give you the level of compliance you need. It’s not only the legal thing to do, but the right thing to do - ensuring all people can access information is just doing good business.
Compliance is an ongoing process and it’s important to ensure that all customers can find what they need on your site. Personalizing a website means making it personal to all users, especially those who require a more tailored experience to complete their car-buying journey.
Jeffrey Pierce is Senior Director of User Experience at Dealer.com.