Website Accessibility Rules – When will they become regulated?

Surely, it’s only a matter of time until the first high-profile case hits the media?

The Times Amazon Mock-Up

At present, websites offering full interactivity for those with disabilites are rare.

The UK Disability Discrimation Act (DDA) 2005 offers only a vague statement regarding the obligations of website owners, but it’s general stance, that anyone with a disability should never be excluded, still stands strong.

It’s by no means an easy job, catering for many possibilities, such as:

  • Complete Blindness
  • Colour Blindness
  • General Poor Vision
  • Tremors/Shakes in the hands or arms
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Seizures caused by strobing/flash effects
  • Learning Difficulties e.g. dyslexia

Each of the above represents a unqiue set of challenges for web designers, web developers and online marketers.

There are several organisations that have issued detailed guidelines on web accessibility, but as yet, none have been inforced. W3C guidelines and specifications (in particular WCAG) are highly regarded as are the PAS 78 guidelines issued in 2006 by the Disablity Rights Commission.

It’s a hard expense for a business owner to justify if their industry has an extremely low percentage of disabled customers. But once the first high-profile legal case against a website is actioned, the flood gates will no doubt open?

Loading…..”Hurry Up or Cough Up” says Google

Adding to the increasing complexity of the AdWords “Quality Score” algorithm, Google has announced that page loading times will soon become a key factor.

The intention is that sites runing advert-heavy pages will be penalised in an effort to improve the “user experience”. Google claims conversion rates are lower when page loading times are poor, as users abandon the site, a claim supported by many frustrated browsers.

Loading Please Wait


Flash Sites and Image-Heavy Websites – as Flash sites tend to require more image requests from the server than a typical html site, they may be penalised under the new calculations.

Poorly Hosted Websites – the jury is still out on whether cheaper hosting packages result in slower server responses, but inferior hardware undoubtedly takes its toll.


Text-Only Sites – we might see retailers using incredibly simple text-only landing pages (or maybe defaulting to the low-graphics accessibility pages?).

Google have not (and will not) release details of how much effect loading times will have on the quality score, for all we know it could be minimal, but Google are generally very commited to providing the best search results for their users. There are several conspiracy theories and there is no doubt that any changes will benefit Google’s profit margins but ultimately those who abide by the rules will be rewarded.

Businesses need to bid Smarter NOT Higher!

As more and more businesses realise the potential of advertising via search engines, the “bidding war” on search terms is hotting up.

adwords page.thumbnail Businesses need to bid Smarter NOT Higher!

Increasing bids on paid advertising on Google, MSN and Yahoo may increase your position in the listings, but with systems such as AdWords “Quality Score”, the bid is only the tip of the iceberg.

Quality Score ensures that advertisers with a well-considered search term list, relevant ad text and a good history of CTR (Click Through Rate) are rewarded over those that simply bid higher and higher.

Many businesses attempt to run their own Pay Per Click campaigns, selecting what they believe to be the most relevant search terms for their industry, then set a budget and aim to bid for the “top spots” on each search engine.

Without conducting the relevant search term research, optimising the campaign and then monitoring ad performance along with click through rates, the Quality Score will suffer.

The post-click analysis (utilising tracking software to link search terms to a goal such as an enquiry form or purchase receipt page) also performs a vital role, ensuring you bid on the correct search terms, have well-targetted adverts and are sending searchers to the most relevant page on your website (the landing page).

Additional attention to detail when running a Pay Per Click campaign is more essential now then ever before!