Website Accessibility Increases Compatibility with Mobile/ Alternative Devices
This blog post is part of a series of posts discussing the Business Case for Accessibility. In order to get a full view of the Business Case for Accessibility, I encourage you to read all posts in this series, links to which can be found at the bottom of this post.
These arguments focus on the idea that an accessible website lends itself better to compatibility with alternative devices like mobile phones, tablets, and other internet-capable devices such as the Nintendo Wii.
- Does it increase income? Yes, with one important caveat: If you are currently able to convert mobile/ tablet/ web-enabled device users into sales or referrals.
- Does save money? Probably. I’ve recently seen websites designed specifically to be mobile friendly. In other words, you can save from having to design a specific app (or two, one for iPhone and one for Android) by creating a separate mobile version of your site. I believe we’ll see a shift away from mobile apps back towards the mobile web over the next few years as HTML5 & CSS3 begin to gain in popularity (though this isn’t directly related to accessibility).
- Does it mitigate risk? Maybe. You can avoid having your competition eat your lunch because people can use the competition’s site (or app) on their mobile device but not yours. Again, with the caveat that your target demographic be composed of people who are likely to convert to sales or referrals from a mobile device.
- How strong is the evidence? Weak. Some data exists to discuss conversions from mobile advertising but I’m unable to come up with hard data on the actual dollar value of a mobile-friendly website.
Whether or not a mobile-friendly site is beneficial to you depends largely on the demographics of your target user. If your target user is likely to use the web on mobile devices and likely to convert over a mobile device, then the importance of mobile is huge. 40% of adults use the internet, email or instant messaging on a mobile phone. The numerous relationships between Mobile Web Best Practices and WCAG would seem to imply that this could be among the strongest business cases for accessibility. Nevertheless, traffic stats tend to indicate that only about 8.24% of total traffic comes from mobile devices. To put this into perspective, that’s roughly the same as the number of users on 1280*1024 resolution. Whether 8.24% of your visitors delivers an ROI for you or not has to be considered on a case-by-case basis, but I’d say this argument is compelling enough to closely consider. As is the case of SEO & Usability, however, I’d consider accessibility to be a by-product of a good mobile web design.