We all know that the economy isn’t in the midst of a boom. Heck, it’s nowhere near that. And we all know that many companies are holding back on new development work, or trying to save as much as possible on the projects that are moving forward. But where does accessibility come into the overall financial considerations?
Many companies take the attitude that web development with accessibility in mind only increases the overall cost of a development project. Not so. In fact, I would argue that properly setting up an accessible and semantic web site from the beginning is significantly less expensive than the losses you will incur down the road. Losses realized either through reduced traffic or reduced sales, or reduced advertising. Additionally, in this economy, the last thing you want to do with your web site is give up on any visitors. Every one of them is a potential sale or lead. Now is the time to make sure your web site is reaching the absolute most people possible. Ignoring accessibility can potentially block anywhere from 5 – 25% of your user base. When faced with declining sales, leads, or other metrics, why add insult to injury?
The stark reality is that costs related to accessibility, just like costs related to many other aspects of a project, are more directly related to the overall management, planning and implementation of the project than the actual time and materials to implement the feature. Sure, a poorly implemented accessibility strategy can cost a lot of money. But so can a poorly implemented registration system, e-commerce solution, or any other web-based application. The key is all in the planning. If you go in with a solid path to success, and manage the development well, the impact to your budget will be minimal, and the benefits through increased traffic, leads, sales or advertising revenue will more than offset any additional costs related to accessibility implementation.
Accessibility isn’t a “nice to have” in a bad economy – it’s a must have!