Do you need some advice on where to start?
If you've done some research and know that accessibility benefits everyone. Maybe you got here because you've had a complaint about your website from a disgruntled user. Whatever your starting point, you've come to the right place. Let's help you decide if you should develop your existing website or if it'd be best to start from scratch.
Have you conducted an accessibility audit?
This is going to be your best first step. Having an accessibility audit on your current website will highlight where potential issues lie and what you need to do to solve them.
If you're already aware your website has some accessibility limitations or you're reacting to a complaint, you might not be in a position to satisfy your users' needs without the help of an expert.
Our design team are great at what they do. We'd be happy to look under the hood of your site. We ensure websites make effective use of accessible communication formats (like large text or audio descriptions) to promote online inclusivity.
Find out what accessibility issues you have
You need to know precisely what issues you're dealing with so you know what solutions to put in place.
Common issues are a lack of alt text descriptions for images and media, poor colour contrast, too much flashing, lack of audio transcripts and inaccessible font choice (we wrote more on what an accessible site looks like, here).
These are things you can easily learn how to fix. You must remember that accessibility isn't a tick box exercise that only needs to be done once. It needs constant attention. Whilst you may be able to fix them in-house in the short-term with a new website or updating your current one they won't update themselves in the long-run.
Some of the accessibility limitations you're experiencing might require an expert. You might not know how to solve them. They might be entirely out of your control. Take your CMS system, for example. It might be a blocker to achieving appropriate content structure. You'd need a developer to work on this for you.
We have a dedicated team of PHP developers and designers with over a hundred years' experience (around 134, if we're counting). We specialise in open-source software, Drupal and Symfony, for their flexibility, speed and reliability to produce a truly custom solution. We'd be happy to talk about collaborating with your team to make sure your site is up-to-scratch.
Find out how many issues you have
It's best to have your issues quantified and categorised by the right people with the right technical expertise. What may seem like a few issues to you may be more in reality.
Look at your site. Do all the pages work? Do all the components work as they should? You might reach a point where you think it's no longer worth fixing your website.
Remember a new website will also need to be tested and amended.
Assess your current website. Are you happy with it?
How you feel about your site is actually very important!
Do you like it? Does it communicate your message? Do your users get what they need from it?
This isn't just a subjective thing; it has an impact on the evaluation of your accessibility.
If you learn that users struggle with your site because it's not accessible you might look at your site less favourably than you did. It's not wrong to look at your own site and love it. You might genuinely feel it showcases your brand perfectly. And that's important. Improving accessibility doesn't mean reducing fun or emotion (and we wrote about this idea, here). Accessibility is about making your website inclusive to all (something else we've discussed).
If your website is dated, you might not like it. And you shouldn't dismiss that either.
If you were already considering having your website redesigned, now is the perfect time to get some advice on improving the accessibility as part of that project.
You can work with an agency to establish how to meet accessibility standards. Together, you consider your target audience and ideal user. You create an engaging experience for them.
Your options are to redesign or build again. You might opt for a new platform.
Think about your future content. What does that look like?
Think about your current site. Does it have room to grow? Can that growth incorporate accessibility?
Will you be using more video content? How about podcasts? If so, do you know that your site can manage these? Do you have the tools to make them accessible to all users? Have you considered transcripts and captions?
At this point, you might decide a new website would be best. You'll be saving time, costs and workload by starting off with a fresh map that incorporates your accessibility requirements for these items of content you'll be using
The best time to start planning for the accessibility of your content and website is now.
Assess if you can make these changes in-house
If you're managing your website entirely in-house, you're in the minority.
There are a few things to consider.
Are you using an accessible platform? If so, can you prove it?
You want an established CMS and rigorous testing procedures, undertaken by an expert on the subject.
Who takes responsibility for the website's accessibility?
Who makes the adjustments? Who tests? When? How do they go about it? Someone needs to be responsible for this.
Do you have the resources?
You need the right people. You also need their time. Effective planning needs to be done and realistic deadlines need to be set to ensure the accessibility movements are realised.
The right team needs a designer, developer and a project manager as a minimum. If you don't have that technical expertise in your own team, you need to find an agency that does.
At Code Enigma we collaborate with your team so we become one, sharing the same goal. We find the right solution, together.
What's your budget?
Cost is inevitably going to be a factor. You'll have to do some due diligence to reach a point where you're comfortable about the amount of work that's needed and what it will cost.
Accessibility has a return on investment. You're investing in your brand, your users (who are ultimately your customers) and your compliance.
What's the answer?
Sorry to disappoint, but we were never going to give you a clear answer. The considerations we've outlined here are designed to make you think about what will go into the process of improving your accessibility.
The one clear thing is that it's something you can't ignore.
As the answers to these considerations take shape, you'll get an idea of the workload, time, cost and expertise you need. You'll be able to assess either developing your current site or investing in a brand new one.
Weigh up the cost alongside your overall business goals and you'll be in an educated place to decide.