Opinion Business case for website accessibility

By Tim McQueen Published on 21 Nov 2017
  • Read time: 4 mins
  • Tech level: low
  • Key point: a business case bolstered with financial advantages of accessibility is more persuasive
Professional woman in Sydney building a business case
You can have a business case in minutes without spending hours 'starting from scratch'

Building blocks of a business case for a website accessibility project

Building a strong business case for website accessibility can be viewed as its own skill set.

Professionals working on a business case in Sydney
A strong business case improves internal buy-in.

In most organisations, especially enterprise-size organisations, knowing the website needs accessibility improvements will not automatically lead to any improvements. A strong business case document can be the difference between a great initiative that never eventuates and a realised web transformation project that results in more accessible web content.

Once you have recognised your website needs to be improved, you will probably need to build a business case for an accessibility project.

What is accessibility in the context of websites?

Accessibility in the context of a website means making a website accessible to a wide group of people, instead of a limited group of people.

Aside from the obvious moral reasons for making your website accessible, there are many business and economic reasons for improving the accessibility of your website. Since the latter points are more persuasive, this article will focus on how accessibility improvements can lead to a better 'bottom line', and mitigation against the risk  of legal challenges and damage to your brand.

Accessibility of the Web is of critical importance to people with disabilities around the world, including people with auditory, cognitive, physical, neurological, and visual disabilities, and is likewise important to those with accessibility needs due to age.

Providing accessible web content can also benefit people who do not have disabilities but who are experiencing situational barriers. For instance, when accessing the Web from devices with small screens or in low bandwidth situations, or when experiencing barriers due to language or literacy levels, accessibility solutions can also support improved access. 

What does a strong business case contain?

A strong business case:

  • articulates compelling reasons why accessibility improvements are necessary
  • highlights the legal risk of publishing inaccessible content
  • provides evidence for the assertions with a list of substantiated facts
  • links the project back to the organisation's over-arching business strategy
  • covers the expected return on investment (ROI)
  • outlines the practical steps that need to happen to achieve the goal
  • justifies the costs and convinces senior managers that the project is essential to the development and growth of the organisation

The above points can be used as a checklist against your business case before you submit the document to your boss.

Support for accessibility from the top is critical

Buy-in from senior members of your organisation is critical if you want to promptly get the resources and team co-operation you’ll need to make your website more accessible.

There are many ways that accessibility can be implemented at your organisation and these include:

  • An accessibility audit
  • Production of an accessibility policy
  • Creation of accessibility processes and procedures
  • Accessibility training.

Support from the top of your organisation is not always easy to get and some reasons for this are:

  • A lack of understanding of accessibility
  • The benefits of accessibility have not been made clear.
  • The risks of not having an accessible website aren’t fully understood.

Benefits of website accessibility improvements

Increase in website traffic 

There are opportunities to increase the number of visitors to your website and increase revenue. By making your website accessible, your organisation will be ‘widening the net’ because accessibility means that more people are seeing your offerings and being invited to engage with your products/services.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that on average, 15% of the world's population live with some form of disability. Many of these disabilities can affect access to information technologies, and/or can benefit from the use of information technologies including the Web.

Accessible websites are often viewed more favourably by search engines. This is because a number of the techniques are shared between Search Engine Optimisation and accessibility improvement activities.

More search engine traffic means more potential customers/clients seeing your marketing messages and engaging with your website.

Decreasing legal risks

As a consequence of this policy, will meet its legal obligations as defined by the WCAG Level AA success criteria.

Increasing the accessibility standards of the website(s) means decreasing the risk of complaints to the Human Rights Commission.

Get more engagement with your offering

By increasing the number of people that can access our marketing messages, this in turn may lead to improvements in revenue. As potential customers, partners and employees - people with disabilities are important contributors to your business success and should not be excluded.

Where can I get facts from?

Run a test on your website

There are free tools that can reveal accessibility problems with your website such as the Wave Accessibility tool or the Squiz HTML Code Sniffer

Use web analytics to measure, collect and analyse data to help build a strong business case. Analytics are a powerful tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of your website.

Use analytics to gauge traffic and trends to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of your website. You can then use this data in your business case to outline how the new site can address any weaknesses and build on strengths.

Benefits of working with a local team

Testing with real people

Professional woman in Sydney
Testing with real people is invaluable

Getting members of your ideal audience to perform tasks on your website leads to a wealth of invaluable insights that will lead to a more successful website. In the world of websites this is called 'User experience' and there are professions that can carry out such research for you and then deliver actionable insights into your website and how to improve it.

Should I get a fresh pair of eyes?

Definitely. Ask a colleague to review your business case. Are they convinced by your proposal and the facts you present to back it up? Does the business case link to the business strategy and substantiate ROI? Can they understand the project plan and how it will be achieved? Do they feel the business case is compelling in terms of how it will contribute to the overall development and growth of the organisation?

Professional woman in Sydney
To help you build evidence of why you need a new website, we can review your website and provide you with a report.

Alternatively, you can contact Polished Pixels for assistance in building a strong business case. All of our team members have previously worked in large organisations. We understand the frustrations that come with wanting to, but not being able to improve a company website.

Business case template

This business case outlines some of the ways that improving the accessibility standards of our the website will:

  • Increase website traffic
  • Decrease legal risks
  • Potentially get more engagement with our offering. 

To make this process easier, we've put together a business case outline for you below. Feel free to copy and paste it into your own document, then tweak to suit the goals of your organisation.

Copy from here...

Executive Summary

Our organisation is committed to ensuring equal access for people with disabilities. As potential customers, partners and employees they are important contributors to our business success and should not be excluded. 

Work can be done on our website to make it easier to use for our visitors with disabilities. Just some benefits of accessibility improvements include: 

  • Increase website traffic
  • Decrease legal risks
  • Potentially get more engagement with our offering. 

Who could improve the website? 

  1. Usability. Polished Pixels are experts in designing user-friendly interfaces and making it easier to find information on websites.
  2. Enterprise CMS set up. Polished Pixels are experts in building website using Squiz Matrix CMS.

Business case email template

Copy from here...

Re: Web accessibility project


As discussed, our website needs to be overhauled to bring our website up to common accessibility standards and to provide a user-friendly experience to our target audiences.

My goal is to engage a vendor that will create complete an accessibility audit on our website, and put together a practical plan to improve the accessibility of our website.

Improving the customer experience will build brand value while ensuring return traffic.

I have reviewed several Sydney based web agencies that have successfully worked with large organisations. Polished Pixels is a leading website agency providing expert website services. They specialise in building user-friendly websites for corporate clients, as well as government agencies and universities. Services include web design, enterprise class CMS implementation, website content strategy, usability and customer centric testing and design.

Polished Pixels has worked with many high profile organisations, including IOOF, MGSM, and MAFC. The IOOF website is an impressive example of their work.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

More resources for accessibility

Need a new website?

Build your business case now

To make this process easier for you, we've created a business case tool that creates a downloadable tailored business case for you in Word.