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Shopify is one of the most popular platforms to help boost your business, but there is one problem: your site may not be accessible to all. It is your ethical and legal responsibility to make your e-commerce store compliant, and it is also a win-win situation because you will be closing a huge gap while increasing your conversion rates. Let’s uncover why Shopify accessibility matters and what you can do about it.

Why Accessibility Matters For Shopify Websites

Many e-commerce sites have accessibility issues, locking out people living with disabilities. What does this mean for your business? Why is it important to make your platform accessible for people regardless of their inabilities? Here’s why accessibility matters for Shopify websites.

You may face ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) lawsuits if your business is not compliant. Content on your platform should be easy to view, allowing anyone to make purchases, regardless of their abilities. It is a legal requirement, but the best part is that people want to work with brands attentive to inclusivity: you want to maintain your impeccable reputation.  

Reach To Wider Audiences

With one in four people in the US living with a form of disability, there is a huge market gap that your business should target. While fulfilling your ethical and legal requirements, consider how much you will expand your audience and market reach. The more accessible your Shopify is, the higher your potential conversion rates.

Better SEO

SEO is an important tool when it comes to promoting your business. The goal is to improve your rankings and, in turn, boost sales; the best way is to make your website more accessible to people. The more you improve the user experience using the best accessibility practices, the better the SEO rankings and, ultimately, the higher the reach and conversion rates.  

How To Make Shopify Websites Accessible

A laptop with Shopify on the screen.

Apart from the built-in accessibility features in Shopify, you can do more to conform with the regulations. The following tips should get you started.

Check Your Shopify Website Accessibility

One of the first steps is to have a testing strategy that should use the latest version of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). An accessibility audit will reveal issues affecting Shopify website accessibility. 

What about checker extensions? While those may also help, you need a human touch to detect specific issues. To be safe, you can use a hybrid approach, adding human judgment to automated tests. 

Choose An Accessible Shopify Theme

If you don’t have designers to help create your site’s theme, chances are high that you are using a pre-built one provided by Shopify. Although the platform has already tried to create accessible themes for all, you should still make some adjustments to meet the legal requirements. 

For instance, when creating the theme for your platform, make sure that you use color contrast to make the content readable, even for people with vision difficulties. Secondly, when guiding visitors to click on links, make sure that you use descriptive text, not just a ‘click here’ instruction. 

Write Alt Texts For Images

Images are critical on Shopify because users see them and use them to decide whether they want to buy a product. You want to ensure that even those with visual inabilities can understand more about the product. If they cannot see it clearly or the image has issues with loading, the best way to paint a better picture for them is through alternative text

Therefore, you should check that you add a detailed description of each product. Go to the Products icon and choose a particular item. Next, select Preview Media Page on the product’s details page and click Add alt text. This way, you can easily write a clear product description as an alternative and then save the changes. 

Use Heading In Proper Order

Using subheadings makes your content easier to digest. You can use H1, H2, and H3 to guide site visitors through content to improve their experience on your site. How well you use these headings impacts your website’s accessibility. The best way is to have the H2 tags under H1s and H3s under H2. Without following the correct order, visitors will have a hard time trying to find pieces of information. In addition, it helps to make the subheadings descriptive enough for people converting text to audio to give the content a natural flow and make it easier to decipher. 

Don’t Rely Only Color To Convey Information

Website accessibility factors.

It is common to find e-commerce sites using color to relay vital information to the audience. One way is using specific colors in texts to emphasize important details, like using blue shades for the links and red for the errors. While this is supposed to work, the sole use of color differences may be challenging for people with visual impairments or those who cannot differentiate colors. 

To avoid this issue on your platform, it is best to avoid relying only on color. You can alternatively opt for underlining links or using different font types and sizes to make key information easy to tell apart. The goal is to pass the message even to people who won’t easily identify various color changes. 

Add Captions And Descriptions Of Visuals

If you have been a Shopify store owner for a while, you already know how crucial visuals are to your marketing campaigns and product descriptions. You will have to use a video to help promote your product, whether it tells how it is used or explains why the customer needs it. Since you want every user to access and understand the video, you want to accommodate those who view with the sound off (those with hearing issues) and others with visual impairments. 

To bring everyone on board, you should consider adding captions or subtitles in the video and detailed descriptions of the visuals. This way, everyone will easily grasp the message the visuals convey, regardless of their inabilities.

E-commerce businesses often nudge potential customers to other sites to give them more product information and urge them to purchase. This is best done by asking the audience to click certain links, sometimes multiple of them. To improve the accessibility of these sites, ensure that the instructions are very clear. Instead of the content reading “Here are other products,” consider writing, “Click here for more products.”

This way, anyone can understand the instructions and know where the click action will take them. You will be accommodating audiences with learning impediments and other disabilities when clear, and don’t leave them with vague instructions when directing them to crucial links. 

Adjust The Slideshows

Man holding phone and viewing online presentation

With so many products to showcase on Shopify, you may opt for slideshows to highlight several quickly. However, remember that some users with visual impairments rely on special software to help describe the content. Now imagine the product images operating automatically, which means it will be problematic to deploy screen readers.

To make the site more accessible, it helps to avoid autoplay for your visual content. Instead, allow the user to pause using controls on the page easily and generally dictate how they view the content. Also, remember to add captions and transcripts on videos and audio. 

Now Is The Time For Accessibility

The Internet is a source of entertainment, information, and e-commerce. ADA compliance is a legal responsibility for site owners to ensure that there is nothing hindering people living with disabilities from accessing a website. If you own a Shopify site, you should adhere to the rules, and the best part is that expanding your site’s reach is also valuable for your business. Therefore, ensuring that anyone who opens the page can understand the content is crucial. It starts by accommodating people with physical impediments, whether they find it hard to see, hear, move, or perform other tasks.

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