The Cost of Waiting to Implement Digital Accessibility Strategies
What if giving all web users “equal amounts of our respects” raises the cost of the average web project by 5%? What if it raised the cost by more – say 10 or 20% of an overall web project budget? Would it be worth it for your organization? At Siteimprove, we of course believe it’s not only worth the extra cost, but that it’s morally right to do so and encourage all organizations to embrace the challenge of accessibility.
Regardless of the reason an organization is considering or already implementing an accessibility strategy, the cost of creating an accessible site or improving accessibility will always be a consideration. Whether it’s the cost of hiring developers, the cost of an automated tool, or the time it takes for one or more employees to dedicate themselves to an accessibility strategy – there will be some cost no matter how you tackle digital accessibility.
THE COST OF BEING DIGITALLY ACCESSIBLE
The truth is, as with many things on the web, once you decide to take on a large initiative, there will be a lot of effort and perhaps costs upfront, but could save you costs later on. How you might ask? Well for one main (legal) reason, being sued for an inaccessible website has cost some organizations upwards of $400,000.
On the flip side, your organization may be missing out on a significant return on investment (ROI) that comes with an accessible website. Tesco, one of the UK’s largest grocery retailers, created an accessible website that cost around £35,000, which is a fraction of what the accessible site now generates. “Although originally designed for visually impaired users, the site now attracts a much wider audience, spending £13 million a year, which is a fraction of the original cost of £35,000 to develop the accessible site.”
For Tesco, creating an accessible, more usable website brought a significant ROI. This could be true for your organization as well, no matter how you track ROI (purchases, partnerships, students, patients, and more). Another circumstance to consider is how accessibility costs might rise in the future. If an organization waits to implement accessibility on their website until it is absolutely “necessary” (as enforced by law), there is arguably going to be more demand as regulations become more stringent and lawsuits become more prevalent. This could result in higher costs for accessibility consultants, tools, and services in the future.
DEVELOPING AN ACCESSIBILITY BUSINESS CASE FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION
As mentioned in the case of Tesco, one major benefit of web accessibility is the potential for additional revenue and a financial return on the original accessibility cost. Web accessibility can make it easier for people to find a website, access it, and use it successfully, thus resulting in an increased audience. For many organizations, an increased website audience equals more business.
Also, there could be a significant cost savings for organizations who provide online portals and services such as bill pay, event registration, license renewal, etc. because users can find these services without needing to call in (time is money after all). So overall, the better and more usable a website, the more likely your website will help you meet business goals.
Learn more about how to build a business case for your organization’s accessibility efforts by visiting the Web Accessibility Initiative website.
THE COST NOW VS. THE COST LATER?
The cost of creating an accessible website now? It will cost you to have the proper implementation, tools, developers, etc. in place, but perhaps only a fraction of the total budget your organization dedicates to your website or web development. The cost in the future? Thousands, maybe millions in lawsuits. At the very least, there is potential revenue being missed from people who can’t access your website (because 20% of the population is a number too big to ignore).
So what say you? Are you ready to tackle accessibility on your website? Learn more about what accessibility means for your organization and jumpstart your efforts by downloading our all-in-one digital accessibility e-book.
Rachel Trampel is a Content Strategy Specialist at Siteimprove, which provides a suite of web governance tools. For more information visit Siteimprove’s website.