The internet is powerful. In marketing, it can help you reach people you’ve never reached before.
Remember when our direct mail campaigns landed on the doormat amongst the takeaway menus? We couldn’t track the results and it was a roll of the dice if it worked at all.
Internet users are looking for all kinds of things. The internet is a library of information at the touch of a button. We can find out anything from where our nearest supermarket is to the percentage of the Earth's surface which is covered in water (It’s 71% if you were wondering).
The possibilities are endless.
But, some users are still being left behind - those with visual impairments and disabilities. Their possibilities are limited by the barriers of inaccessible websites. If they can’t access your website, your campaigns won’t reach them.
The biggest frustration is the rapid switch in the way we access services, it had to change almost instantly, overnight.
COVID-19 meant that any service that was typically face-to-face moved online or had to be stopped in its tracks. Many users were unable to access the services they needed while marketing teams and the public sector scrambled to find safe, alternative ways to provide their much-needed services.
Despite these hurdles, an accessible website is not the destination. It is the route to getting more people using your services digitally or engaging with your campaigns online.
Making A Website Accessible Brings People Together
The public sector has been focussed on making websites accessible for a while now. They’ve had new regulations imposed on them and deadlines to comply on top of navigating the uncharted waters of COVID-19.
Trying to understand and implement a mountain of guidelines and standards is an overwhelming task. It can be easy to bury your head in the sand.
However, the benefits of an accessible website for visually impaired users and your marketing team are well worth the investment.
As marketers, we put blood, sweat and tears into our campaigns, spending hours deliberating over what resonates most with our audience.
Making your website accessible brings people together, in two ways:
- It reinforces community spirit - everyone is included
- It creates a knowledge pool for everyone in your industry to share their pains and gains while navigating a similar journey.
Adding web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) into the mix can add a new layer of headaches for marketing teams.
It’s no longer purely about what we think looks or sounds best, but also how those messages translate for assistive technology.
Your role is to engage your community and affect meaningful change for residents and service users in your area.
But, to be a true success it must be accessible to every user, an accessible website is the route to this. Leaving budget to be spent on other campaigns to provide the best outcome for the service.
87% of marketers cancelled events due to COVID-19
Marketing teams are still working hard on achieving web accessibility, but many websites are not yet accessible or inclusive. A very frustrating situation for public sector marketers and an isolating position for the service users.
But with so much to do to become accessible online in addition to all the regular business-as-usual marketing activities, how can marketers climb up this mountainous task quickly to provide the best outcome for their service
...You can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
We're in this together
This uphill climb is a UK-wide hike.
It affects every public sector organisation who is scrambling to get accessible online. The problem with the approach to reach compliance is that everyone is working individually to achieve the same goal.
Each organisation is facing similar roadblocks.
As Simon Mainwaring once said, “change is almost impossible without industry-wide collaboration, cooperation and consensus.”
We, in the digital sector, collaborate to create open source technologies which result in better tools and solutions that are freely available for everyone to use.
We do this by combining our knowledge and expertise so that we all succeed through community learning groups, discussion channels and libraries.
By creating a similar community approach to improving web accessibility for the public sector, it would help every public sector organisation across the country to more easily reach its service users.