How to deliver great digital content to all of your users

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” Tim Berners-Lee 1.  

Digital delivery of the latest content to your website is a minimum expectation, for both the end user and the business strategy. However this is often done without fully understanding users and their needs, leading to an experience which is frustrating for them, and ultimately fruitless for the bottom-line of the business.

FundsLibrary have been delivering innovative digital solutions for asset managers and platforms for over a decade. For us, it is crucial to continuously review existing services and to also consider evolving user requirements from the outset when designing new solutions.

In this article, we look at why Accessibility is one of the most important considerations of all.

Is your brand’s online presence failing to reach its full potential?

For a company to succeed it is essential to consider the needs of their entire audience. Here at FundsLibrary, making our solutions accessible to all is a key focus for us. We strongly believe that every individual has the right to benefit from a full user experience.

Web accessibility is a practice that gives all users equal access to a website’s information, functionality and benefits.

The size of the disabled audience alone is a strong enough reason for accessibility to be a standard consideration in all digital products.

There are now 13.9m disabled people in the UK2, of whom 80% used the internet in 20183.  Spending by disabled people and their families is worth at least £249billion to the UK economy every year4.

However, consider also situational/temporary disabilities which can at any time place any user in a situation which prevents them from interacting in the way they usually would. For example, using a small-screen device one-handed whilst holding a coffee, or having a broken mouse thereby being limited to keyboard navigation only.

Another important factor to take into account is user age. We provide digital solutions, including Digital Factsheets and a Fund Research Centre, for a wide range of platforms, asset managers and insurers. Where our clients provide Life & Pension fund choices for example, their audience profile is typically in the older age range, meaning accessibility is a standard requirement for their websites and tools.

Many websites and tools are built in a manner which creates artificial barriers to use and thus lose users before they have even had a chance to take a look at any content/offerings.

Accessible design means far more than just catering to disabled users; it is better design for all users.

Could your brand be at risk?

From a reputational perspective, research has found that businesses which integrate accessibility as standard within their digital content reach more people with positive brand messaging that meets emerging global legal requirements. A study of Fortune 100 companies found that disability inclusion, as part of an overall diversity strategy, is common practice among high performing businesses5.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities includes access to the Internet as a basic human right. The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of disability.

On the horizon is the European Accessibility Act, which will be implemented by 2022 and will introduce common accessibility requirements for key products and services, including for e-commerce and similar services. Preparation for this in only three years may seem daunting, but implementing best standards early will save time and money in the long run.

A short-term investment for long-term savings

According to Microsoft, overall customer satisfaction improves as accessibility features are included6.

A common misconception is that designing a website with accessibility in mind is a burden and an expensive overhead. Far from it. In actual fact it costs little or nothing to write good quality accessible code, and this makes for easier maintenance, collaboration, and iteration in future.

Accessible design fundamentally sits hand-in hand with best practices for mobile site design and SEO in any case. Accessible websites have:

  • Better search results
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Increased audience reach

When designing solutions for users, we work to the four high-level principles of accessibility (POUR) set out by the W3C Working Group7:

(P) Perceivable – Content and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive, such as providing text alternatives for images, descriptions of data presented in charts and diagrams, captions for videos or transcripts of audio content.

(O) Operable – The user must be able to operate user interface components and navigation using the keyboard or assistive technologies such as screen readers, switches or voice.

(U) Understandable – Both the operation of the user interface and the content must be clearly understand Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for your audience and provide definitions for any abbreviations, unusual words, industry terms or jargon.

(R) Robust – Content should be built using established standards so that it can be interpreted by different browsers, assistive technologies and new technologies in the future.

How to review your website for accessibility

There are many free and user-friendly tools readily available to help you measure and diagnose the optimisation of your website. Here at FundsLibrary we use Google Lighthouse, which is an automated tool to run diagnostics on any page, providing a clear audit report as an ongoing measurement of progress, with specific information about how the site scores on accessibility, mobile use, and SEO.

Image showing Lighthouse scores for Performance 99 Accessibility 100 and SEO 100

More recently, Google launched their https://web.dev/ resource site for developers, which brings together the Lighthouse audit tool with a series of guides and tutorials on suggested improvements.

Tools such as tota11y by Khan Academy – a browser plugin and bookmarklet – can help you visualise how your site performs with assistive technologies and flag potential issues to fix:

Needless to say, the best evaluation comes from testing with real users of assistive technologies and the hands-on experience of seeing what information they need and how they would expect to access it.  For example, we have tested our Digital Factsheets with users who rely on braille displays, voice input and screen readers, among other technologies.

How FundsLibrary can help you

FundsLibrary can help you meet accessibility standards with digital solutions such as our Fund Research Centre and Digital Factsheets, which can be delivered as off-the shelf solutions with a rapid implementation approach, ensuring they are ready to embed within your existing website in a matter of weeks.

Please contact us for more details and to arrange a demonstration.

FundsLibrary fund page being viewed on iPad

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Views, opinions or claims expressed on this website are those of the authors, and not necessarily the views of FundsLibrary. The content and information contained on the site should not be taken as advice. We accept no responsibility for loss incurred by any person on taking or refraining from action as a result of material contained herein.

All figures correct as at 30.06.2019.