eCommerce accessibility is an often last on the list of website development, but ensuring that your eCommerce store is accessible is no longer a choice -  it’s a mandatory requirement. Yet the majority of eCommerce brands aren’t compliant. The CMOs, CIOs, and CDOs who manage these organizations are acutely aware of this dilemma. Unfortunately, they view it as a daunting undertaking when added to the numerous other initiatives they are already tasked with running.

For many, eCommerce accessibility compliance can seem like a black box of unknowns. Brand leaders may not know how to interpret accessibility guidelines in the context of their own eCommerce stores. At Object Edge, one of our goals is to break down this intimidating box, explain what's required, and empower businesses to take immediate action.

Understanding eCommerce Accessibility Guidelines

eCommerce Accessibility Guidelines Graphic

We have used the WCAG 2.1 guidelines for this exercise. WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) define how to make the web content more accessible to people with disabilities. The WCAG 2.1 is the current version of guidelines from WCAG. 

There are four principles that provide the foundation for web accessibility: 

  1. Perceivable
  2. Operable
  3. Understandable
  4. Robust. 

WCAG has defined guidelines under each of these four principles.

We analyzed each of these guidelines across two dimensions:

  • Relevancy to eCommerce
  • Expertise Requirements

This analysis should simplify your efforts to understand what is required to attain compliance for your store.

Relevancy to eCommerce

The guidelines have been written to address the wide variety of web content. Some of these guidelines may not be relevant to eCommerce stores. 

A good example is the recording of a keynote address from a conference that is available online. To make this recording accessible, there should be a version of the keynote address made available in sign language. It’s very unlikely that an eCommerce store will have a keynote address available as part of its content. So, we have marked guidelines related to this scenario as having a “low” relevance to a typical eCommerce store. 

Similarly, we have marked certain guidelines as having a “medium” relevance, and of course a lot of the guidelines as having a “high” relevance. This will help you focus on the guidelines that are likely to be critical for your store.

Expertise Requirements

There are four areas of expertise required to make a website truly accessible:

  1. Content creation
  2. User interface design
  3. User experience design
  4. Development

We analyzed each of these guidelines alongside the recommended techniques from WCAG, and tagged each guideline as relating to one or more of these areas of expertise. You will find a good number of guidelines requiring expertise across all four areas. 

However, you will also find sets of guidelines that need only “development,” or only “content creation,” or a combination of just two of the four areas. These could be the low-hanging fruit for you to address before embarking on a comprehensive accessibility compliance initiative.

Guidelines Analysis Data

We have made our analysis available to you via this report (powered by Google Data Studio).

eCommerce Accessibility Report Graphic

The report lists all the WCAG 2.1 guidelines. There are filter controls available so that you may select:

  • Relevancy related to a typical eCommerce store
  • Level of compliance as defined by WCAG
  • Whether the guideline is related to “‘development,” “content creation,” “UI design,” or “UX design.”

You can use this to slice and dice the guidelines, and arrive at a roadmap for attaining compliance for your eCommerce store. 

Interested in learning more? Contact the team of experts at Object Edge for a free consultation call.

About the Author

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Lakshmi KP

VP Customer Success

Lakshmi KP is an experienced Digital Product Manager with a diverse background in eCommerce, financial services, insurance, healthcare, and data analytics. She has successfully led several of Object Edge’s client engagements for building digital products. Lakshmi has also been instrumental in setting up frameworks and guidelines for the Object Edge Product Team to be efficient and successful in their client engagements.

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