The summer months are often when digital marketing teams are able to take stock and catch up on those projects or those items on the “to do list” that they just have not had time to complete. The day to day business of running a website can be very demanding and it can leave little time to work on longer-term priorities and projects. Improving website accessibility is one of those issues that teams intend to do something about but never quite get round to it.
If you are in that kind of position and looking for that summer project, there has never been a better time to prioritise improving digital accessibility and work on it over the next few weeks.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why.
One of things about busy day to day operations is that it not only takes up a lot of your time, but it also means it is quite hard to focus. Web teams work with multiple stakeholders, get constantly interrupted and everything needs to be done yesterday.
The quieter summer months provide an opportunity not only to have freer time to execute a project to improve digital accessibility, but also for you to consider the right approach and even adopt the right mindset. Often improving accessibility requires focus, a little drive, and some momentum; a quieter time of year like July and August can provide this.
2020 has been a uniquely difficult time with the pandemic disrupting almost every aspect of daily life. Life in lockdown means there is now much more focus on digital interactions and reliable information. In particular, everybody needs to have access to digital channels, and many people are using web services for the first time, for example to get online deliveries.
With events changing on a daily basis, people also need access to reliable and up to date information. On the other side, businesses need to be able to get the message out about their activity and operations to all customers. Good accessibility is therefore extremely important; if your website is not fully accessible, then it may not be possible for everyone to have access to the information and services they need to rely upon. Rectifying this should be regarded as a priority.
For UK public sector organisations there is a legal requirement to meet accessibility guidelines by 22 September 2020. Most organisations impacted by this should have already planned or executed a project to improve accessibility.
However if you’re another organisation from a different sector, in our view it is still good practice to meet the same requirement by that date; if you’re starting out on your summer project this gives you a workable date to implement improvements by. Having a realistic but looming deadline provides a focus for efforts that can really give a project momentum.
One of the great things about improving accessibility is you can make significant improvements in a relatively short time. For example, if you set aside say half a day to one day a week for 8 to 12 weeks then you make a real impact. We have seen some of our clients achieve exceptional things in this time. If you are starting out in early to mid-July, you can make a real difference by the early Autumn.
The pandemic has left the economy in a highly fragile state and naturally budgets are extremely tight; marketing teams and budget holders are going to be reluctant to sign off significant spend. Projects that are low-cost but high impact are the flavour of the month – one of the great things about improving accessibility is that it can be very low cost. For example, when you use an automated assessment tool like Sitemorse that identifies the backlog of issues that you need to work through, and how to then fix them, your main costs are actually the staff time invested in carrying out the fixes.
Generally, this methodology for improving accessibility is inexpensive and you don’t need to spend much to make significant improvements and progress; it’s much more about rolling your sleeves up than having to implement expensive software or hire external consultants.
Of course, one of the main reasons why it’s a good time to improve accessibility is that it is very important. In fact, it’s always a good time to carry out an accessibility project; it makes sense from a legal, regulatory, commercial, ethical and usability point of view.
This could be an ideal opportunity to improve the accessibility of your website once and for all. There has never been a better time in terms of importance and perhaps opportunity. By getting started tomorrow and making improving accessibility your “summer project” you really can make huge advances by the Autumn. Good luck!