Ecommerce Growth

How to Improve Your Shopify Accessibility in 7 Days

Ecommerce Growth

How to Improve Your Shopify Accessibility in 7 Days


Understanding the Importance of Accessibility in E-commerce

Is your Shopify store effectively reaching all potential customers? As business owners navigating the fast-evolving world of e-commerce, we sometimes overlook a key aspect—accessibility. Ensuring that all consumers, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, can seamlessly interact with our online stores is not just a legal imperative, but a significant commercial opportunity too.

You see, a quarter of adults worldwide live with some form of disability, a population size that's impossible to ignore. Furthermore, amid the global shift to digital retail spurred by events like the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce accessibility, specifically Shopify accessibility, has taken center stage. If a vast portion of potential customers meeting barriers on your site, isn't essentially leaving money on the table?

Shopify's Commitment to Accessibility

Here's the good news: Shopify is committed to fostering an inclusive environment. Their commitment to enhancing platform's accessibility is evident through their ongoing policy modifications, dedicated accessibility team, and the host of accessibility apps available on their marketplace.

However, as ingenious as Shopify is in providing robust tools for e-commerce, the responsibility and opportunity to enhance website accessibility rests significantly with you, the Shopify store owner. Here's a quick glimpse at the steps to achieve this:

  1. Understand Shopify's Accessibility standards
  2. Implement text accessibility
  3. Optimize images for accessibility
  4. Ensure accessibility for slideshows and videos
  5. Sustain keyboard support
  6. Leverage accessibility apps
  7. Regularly maintain and update your accessibility practices

Accessibility Optimization Steps - accessibility shopify infographic process-5-steps-informal

Stay with us as we take you on a 7-day journey, detailing how these steps can be used to progressively improve accessibility Shopify for your e-commerce store, making it accessible to a larger and more diverse customer base.

Day 1: Understanding Shopify's Accessibility Standards

On the first day of our 7-day accessibility improvement plan, we'll delve into the heart of accessibility standards on Shopify. It's crucial to understand the guidelines Shopify follows to build the foundation for your store's accessibility improvements.

Overview of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

WCAG 2.1 is a globally recognized set of guidelines for improving web accessibility. These guidelines provide a comprehensive understanding of how to create digital content that is accessible to a broad range of users, including those with disabilities. WCAG 2.1 encompasses a wide range of recommendations, such as providing text alternatives for non-text content, creating content that can be presented in different ways without losing information, and designing content that is easier for users to see and hear.

Shopify's Compliance with WCAG 2.1

Shopify is deeply committed to digital equity, striving to make the internet a more inclusive space for everyone. As part of this commitment, Shopify uses the principles of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 as its guiding principle for creating new products and improving existing ones. This means that Shopify continually tests its content and features for compliance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA, the second highest level of conformance.

Shopify's adherence to these standards ensures that every aspect of your store, from product descriptions to checkout processes, is designed with accessibility in mind. It's not just about meeting legal requirements - it's about maintaining the dignity and independence of all users, an ethos we at First Pier strongly align with.

Importance of Regular Testing for WCAG Compliance

Regular testing for WCAG compliance is a crucial part of Shopify's accessibility efforts. This process involves using a variety of tools and techniques to test digital content and products, including automated testing software, screen readers, voice dictation, screen magnification, color contrast analyzers, keyboard-only navigation techniques, and a variety of bookmarklets. Shopify also works with people with disabilities to complete usability tests during product creation. This ensures that the platform stays ahead of potential access barriers and that all users can navigate and interact with Shopify stores seamlessly.

As an agency specializing in Shopify development and optimization, we at First Pier share Shopify's commitment to digital accessibility. We understand the importance of regular testing for WCAG compliance, and we work closely with our clients to ensure their Shopify stores meet or exceed these standards.

In the next section, we'll explore how to implement text accessibility in your Shopify store. Stay tuned!

Day 2: Implementing Text Accessibility

On day two, the focus is on text accessibility. This is crucial for your customers who are visually impaired or who find reading dense blocks of text challenging. Following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), we'll explore ways to make your text more accessible.

Ensuring Adequate Color Contrast for Text

Color contrast is one of the pillars of text accessibility. It ensures all your text is accessible to customers who are colorblind or otherwise visually impaired. These customers rely on adequate color contrast to visually differentiate one thing from another.

When you edit the colors for your online store, it's essential to ensure the color of your text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 against its background for body text and button text. For headings and other large texts (font size 24 px and up), the contrast ratio should be at least 3:1. Non-text elements, including input borders and icons, should have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 against its background.

Online tools, like the contrast ratio tool, can help you check the contrast of the different parts of your store.

Using Headings in Sequential Order

Headings are used by assistive technologies to communicate how page content is organized. When adding headings to your page, it's crucial to keep them in sequential order (1 - 6). Skipping over levels, such as a heading level 2 followed by a heading level 4, can be confusing for users.

Maintaining Consistent Text Size and Alignment

The size and alignment of your text also play a crucial role in its readability. Your text should be large enough for customers to comfortably read. In Shopify, the minimum font size for body text is the equivalent of 16 px.

Text should also have consistent spacing between words and letters to make it easy to read. Avoid justified text alignment as it creates inconsistent spacing between words. Instead, opt for left-aligned text, which creates consistent spacing between words.

Differentiating Text Links from Regular Text

Text links should be visually distinct from regular text to help users navigate your site. This is especially important for visually impaired users who use screen readers. Make sure to differentiate text links from regular text in your Shopify store.

At First Pier, we understand that implementing text accessibility can be complex. But with our guidance and Shopify’s user-friendly platform, you can make your online store accessible to all. Next, we will look into enhancing image accessibility to further improve your Shopify store's accessibility. Stay tuned!

Day 3: Enhancing Image Accessibility

As we progress through our 7-day plan to improve your Shopify store's accessibility, we step into the realm of images. Images, while visually engaging for many users, present unique challenges when it comes to accessibility. To make your Shopify store inclusive, you need to ensure your images are not just visually appealing but are also accessible to those using screen readers.

Importance of Alternative Text for Images

Alternative text, commonly known as alt text, plays a crucial role in making your images accessible. Alt text is essentially a brief description of your images that helps search engines and screen readers understand the content of the image. This is especially important for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers to access digital content.

But alt text isn't just about accessibility. It also improves your Shopify SEO by providing better image descriptions to search engine crawlers, enhancing your visibility in image search results.

How to Add Alt Text to Images on Shopify

Shopify makes it easy to add alt text to your product images. From the Shopify admin, you can navigate to the specific product page, click on the image you want to add alt text to, and enter the description in the 'Alt text' field. Similarly, you can add alt text to other images on your site from the theme editor, ensuring every image on your Shopify site is accessible and SEO-friendly.

Best Practices for Writing Effective Alt Text

When crafting alt text, it's important to strike the right balance between being descriptive and concise. Consider the context of the image and how it contributes to the overall content of the page. The alt text should accurately describe the image content and function.

Avoid phrases like "image of" or "picture of" in your alt text. Screen readers already announce the image, so it's redundant. Also, don't stuff your alt text with keywords. While it's good for SEO to include relevant keywords, overdoing it can lead to a poor user experience.

The goal isn't just about ticking off an accessibility checklist. It's about creating an inclusive shopping experience for all users. With effective use of alt text, you make your Shopify store not just more accessible, but also more discoverable.

At First Pier, we are committed to helping you build a Shopify store that is not only visually appealing but also accessible and inclusive. Up next, we will delve into optimizing slideshow and video accessibility. Stay with us as we continue our journey towards a more accessible Shopify store.

Day 4: Optimizing Slideshow and Video Accessibility

Today, we will focus on enhancing the accessibility of slideshows and videos on your Shopify store. These forms of content can significantly enrich the shopping experience by providing visual demonstrations of your products, showcasing customer testimonials, or giving a behind-the-scenes look at your company. However, to ensure these elements are accessible to all users, we need to consider a few crucial factors.

Avoiding Automatic Playback of Slideshows and Videos

One of the key guidelines to follow when it comes to making your Shopify store accessible is to avoid the automatic playback of slideshows and videos. Some customers, especially those with certain sensory or cognitive disorders, may find unexpected motion or noise disruptive or disorienting.

To comply with this standard, ensure that slideshows don't play automatically on your website. If they do, include a setting that allows customers to pause or stop the slideshow. The same rule applies to videos - they should not start playing automatically when a page loads. If they do, make sure their audio is muted by default. These adjustments can make a world of difference for customers who rely on assistive technologies or prefer to control the media on your site.

Providing Closed Captioning and Text Transcripts for Videos

To enhance the accessibility of your video content, consider adding closed captioning. Closed captions can be extremely beneficial for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing, as they provide a text alternative to the audio content of videos.

For videos that include audio, the video should be fully visible and not obstructed by other page elements. This allows closed captions to remain visible. Providing transcripts for your video content can also be a great way to improve accessibility, as it allows users to read the content at their own pace.

As already mentioned, some customers rely on the text to speech capability of screen readers, which read aloud the contents of a web page. Providing transcripts for your video content can be a great way to make your content accessible to these customers, as they can read the transcript using their screen reader.

At First Pier, we understand the value of creating a Shopify store that is accessible to all users. By making these adjustments to your slideshows and videos, you're one step closer to creating a more inclusive shopping experience for your customers.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our 7-day plan to improve your Shopify store's accessibility. Next up, we'll be discussing the importance of keyboard support and how to implement it on your Shopify site.

Day 5: Ensuring Keyboard Support

On Day 5 of our 7-day journey to improve the accessibility of your Shopify store, we turn our focus to keyboard support. This element of web accessibility is particularly crucial for users with motor impairment or those who rely on keyboard navigation for other reasons.

Importance of Keyboard Support for Accessibility

Keyboard support is a crucial element of accessibility. It implies that all functions of a website can be accessed using a keyboard alone, without the need for a mouse or trackpad. This is beneficial for users who may find it challenging to use a mouse due to physical disabilities or prefer keyboard navigation for efficiency or comfort.

Keyboard support is not just about making every element on your site accessible through a keyboard. It's also about making sure users can easily identify where their keyboard focus is on your web page. This aspect of web accessibility is often overlooked, but it plays a critical role in making your Shopify store accessible to all users.

How to Implement Keyboard Support on Shopify

Implementing keyboard support on your Shopify store involves ensuring all interactive page elements can be accessed and activated using a keyboard. These elements include links, buttons, and form fields.

Here's how you can implement keyboard support on Shopify:

  1. Maintain Logical Tab Order: The tab order of your website should follow a logical sequence that aligns with the visual layout of the page. This means that as a user navigates through your site using the Tab key, they should be able to move from one interactive element to the next in a predictable order.

  2. Provide Visible Keyboard Focus Indicator: Users navigating your site with a keyboard need a clear visual indicator to know which element currently has the keyboard focus. This can be achieved by ensuring that all interactive elements have a distinctive style when they are in focus. For example, you might use a change in color or a border to indicate focus.

  3. Ensure All Interactive Elements Are Keyboard-Accessible: All interactive elements on your site should be keyboard-accessible. This includes links, buttons, form fields, and any other elements that can be clicked with a mouse.

  4. Avoid Keyboard Traps: A keyboard trap occurs when a user's keyboard focus gets stuck on a particular element with no way to move forward or backward. Make sure to avoid such situations.

  5. Consider Using Accessibility Apps: There are a number of apps available on the Shopify App Store that can help improve the keyboard accessibility of your site. For example, the Accessibility Enabler app provides various accessibility features, including keyboard navigation.

Improving the accessibility of your Shopify store is not a one-time task but an ongoing commitment. By ensuring keyboard support, you're taking an important step towards making your e-commerce store more inclusive.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our journey in improving accessibility on Shopify. We'll delve into accessibility apps and how they can help make your store more user-friendly for everyone.

Day 6: Using Accessibility Apps on Shopify

On day six of our accessibility journey, we will delve into accessibility apps on Shopify. Utilizing these apps is a fantastic way to further improve accessibility on your e-commerce store.

Overview of Accessibility Enabler App

One of the most effective accessibility apps available on the Shopify store is the Accessibility Enabler. Launched in 2018, it aims to help business owners achieve WCAG 2.1, EAA, and ADA compliance with a user-friendly accessibility widget.

This app offers over 30 accessibility options that allow users to adjust web pages based on their needs, making it a great tool to enhance your store's accessibility. The app is optimized for both mobile and desktop users, and it's compatible with all Shopify themes. It also includes an accessibility certificate and badge, which can help build trust with your customers by showcasing your commitment to accessibility.

Moreover, the Accessibility Enabler also supports 105 languages and offers flexibility in terms of UI and design customization. It provides screen-reader adjustments and keyboard navigation adjustments, making the browsing experience smoother for those with disabilities.

Accessibility Enabler - accessibility shopify

How to Install and Use Accessibility Enabler on Shopify

Installing and using the Accessibility Enabler on your Shopify store is a straightforward process.

To install the app, simply navigate to the Shopify App Store and search for the Accessibility Enabler. Click on the 'Add App' button and follow the prompts to install the app on your store.

Once installed, you can customize the accessibility widget according to your store's design and requirements. You can adjust the color, position, and icon of the widget to ensure it blends seamlessly with your website design.

The app's user-friendly interface makes it easy to enable or disable various accessibility features. You can provide options for users to adjust text size, contrast, line spacing, and more, depending on their individual needs.

The Accessibility Enabler also allows you to generate an accessibility statement for your website, which can be added to your site with ease. This statement reassures your customers about your commitment to making your website accessible to everyone.

As we at First Pier always emphasize, incorporating accessibility into your Shopify store is not just about complying with standards. It's about creating an inclusive environment where everyone can enjoy a seamless shopping experience, regardless of their abilities.

Tomorrow, on the final day of our accessibility improvement journey, we'll talk about the importance of maintaining and updating your accessibility practices. Stay tuned!

Day 7: Maintaining and Updating Your Accessibility Practices

After implementing all the necessary changes to improve the accessibility of your Shopify store, you might think your job is done. However, in the ever-evolving world of e-commerce, maintaining and updating your accessibility practices is a continual process. This involves regular testing, handling feedback, and keeping up with updates in accessibility standards.

Importance of Regular Accessibility Testing

First off, it's crucial to conduct regular testing of your website's accessibility. Not only when you upload new content but also when there are updates or changes to the website's design or functionality. Various evaluation tools like SortSite, WAVE, and A11Y Color Contrast Accessibility Validator can help you determine if your website is sufficiently accessible. By using these tools, you not only ensure your website remains compliant but also enjoy reduced maintenance costs as these tools automatically adapt to uploaded content.

How to Handle Feedback and Make Necessary Adjustments

Part of maintaining accessibility is handling feedback from your customers. As our expert Steve at First Pier notes, Shopify encourages feedback regarding the methods used to provide services to persons with disabilities. This feedback can be a valuable guide in identifying areas for improvement and making necessary adjustments. The goal is to make your Shopify store as user-friendly as possible for all customers.

Keeping Up with Updates in Accessibility Standards

Lastly, it's important to keep abreast of updates in accessibility standards. Groups like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) frequently issue new standards and success criteria for accessibility. Staying updated with these changes ensures your website remains compliant and continues to offer an inclusive shopping experience.

By maintaining and updating your accessibility practices, you ensure your website remains accessible to the broadest possible audience. This not only helps you avoid potential legal issues related to accessibility Shopify but also enhances the user experience for all your customers. In the next section, we'll wrap up this 7-day accessibility improvement plan and discuss how First Pier can assist you in improving your Shopify accessibility.


Recap of the 7-Day Accessibility Improvement Plan

Over the past week, we've explored how you can make significant strides in improving your Shopify store's accessibility. From understanding Shopify's accessibility standards to implementing text and image accessibility, optimizing slideshow and video accessibility, ensuring keyboard support, and using accessibility apps like Accessibility Enabler, we've covered a lot of ground.

The goal of this plan was to provide you with actionable steps to make your Shopify store more accessible to all users, regardless of their physical abilities. Maintaining and updating your accessibility practices is an ongoing process and should be a part of your regular site maintenance.

The Role of Accessibility in Building an Inclusive E-commerce Business

Accessibility plays a crucial role in building an inclusive e-commerce business. As the digital world becomes increasingly important in our daily lives, ensuring that everyone, including people with disabilities, can access and navigate your online store is not just a legal requirement but a moral obligation.

By enhancing your site's accessibility, you're not only avoiding potential legal complications but also providing a better user experience for all your customers. An accessible website is likely to attract a broader customer base, drive more traffic, and potentially increase your sales and revenue.

How First Pier Can Help Improve Your Shopify Accessibility

Here at First Pier, we understand the complexities involved in optimizing a website for accessibility. That's why we're committed to helping businesses like yours make their Shopify stores more accessible and inclusive.

Our team of Shopify experts can help you implement the steps outlined in this 7-day plan, and we also provide ongoing support and guidance to ensure your store remains up-to-date with all accessibility standards.

Whether you're just starting out with your Shopify store or looking to improve an existing one, we're here to help. We invite you to explore more about our services and how we can assist you in enhancing your Shopify accessibility.

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For further insights on Shopify accessibility, you can also check out our detailed guide on Shopify ADA compliance.

Improving accessibility is not just about meeting legal requirements - it's about creating an inclusive shopping experience for all users. Together, we can make the e-commerce world a more accessible place for everyone.

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