Learning from ASOS: Designing for accessibility


Delaney McDonald

December 13, 2022 | 3 min read

Designing for accessibility is more than just the latest trend. It’s the key to creating a digitally inclusive brand and expanding your audience. It boosts your business impact with more conversions and sales and creates a seamless digital experience. By adhering to the latest compliance regulations, you also avoid fines and avoid any potential lawsuits.

Accessibility starts with empathy. It’s about making everything accessible to everyone. It’s about the user and their experience. —Tzveta Dinova, Accessibility Specialist, ASOS

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Still unconvinced? Here are a few accessibility statistics to help sway you on the importance and impact of accessibility.

  • 15% of the world’s population has a disability (WHO).
  • In 2021, 79% of all digital accessibility lawsuits were in the eCommerce industry (UsableNet).
  • 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the internet daily (Pew Research Center).

Accessibility can sometimes seem like one of those intimidating buzzwords, but it shouldn’t be. People should feel free to say ‘I don’t understand this?’ or ‘Why are we doing this?’ because there’s no shame in asking questions. —Tzveta Dinova, Accessibility Specialist, ASOS

6 tips for designing and maintaining an accessible website

  1. Ensure your site has intense contrasting colors to help those with visual impairments. With enough contrast, users can see a CTA or critical heading easier. To evaluate your site, use AB testing and online tools like Color Contrast Analyzer or Pika to check if you’re in the accessible contrast range.
  2. Work with disabled and impaired users. Go straight to the source rather than using a simulation or tool. It’ll lead to more empathetic optimizations. Remember, accessibility is about the human behind the digital experience.
  3. Disable auto-playing videos. They can be a considerable distraction and disrupt users from navigating a site naturally and intuitively. It can also prevent users from hearing screen readers, frustrating users who utilize text-to-speech software.
  4. Keep keyboard navigation front of mind, always. When optimizing, use online extensions and tools to review customer journeys via keyboard navigation. Too many menu options and head and footer links can create a diluted, long, confusing journey.
  5. Track your progress. With native mobile apps, it’s easier to see the before and after, but with desktop, it can be more challenging. However, setting up a dashboard before your make these accessibility optimizations helps you understand the tangible impact accessible design has on customer experience, conversions and revenue. And in turn, making it easier to continue to advocate for prioritizing accessibility in the future.
  6. To keep accountable, ensure your team has clear roles and responsibilities around accessibility optimizations. Share a standardized checklist to provide that teams like digital, design, and others consistently use the same style guidelines. Conduct company-wide annual training to keep accessibility a priority and ensure you’re adhering to the latest compliance standards.

When designing for accessibility, embrace imperfection

The most important step in improving your website’s accessibility is the first one. Embrace the imperfections because every small change or optimization is a step in the right direction if it helps more people access your digital content.

You can avoid lawsuits by making small changes, like adding alternative texts to images or adjusting color contrast. No one will be completely compliant all the time. It’s almost impossible. However, you can show that you’re making an effort, and I think that’s what matters most.

We’re all in this together. You need to start somewhere. If you make these small changes, you will significantly impact your brand, and people will begin to see this. So start small and gradually work your way up. —Tzveta Dinova, Accessibility Specialist, ASOS

Prioritizing an accessible website improves business performance and creates an empathic customer experience, making connecting with the human behind the screen easier. More empathy leads to better brand experiences and more loyal customers.

Accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smartest thing.

Looking for more tips for designing an accessible site? Check out the on-demand accessibility workshop for best practices and a real-time website accessibility audit.


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