Retailers face excluding over 376 million pounds1 in revenue this Christmas

Nomensa calls for boardrooms to initiate Online Social Responsibility (OSR) policies

Research conducted in August 2006 by user experience experts Nomensa, shows that not one of the UK’s top 30 retail websites meets the minimum requirements for website accessibility.

The homepages and terms and conditions pages of each retail site were measured and evaluated, using a combination of manual and automated testing against the globally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines3 (WCAG) version 1.0.

Retailers that were recognised as showing particular consideration of accessibility are John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Tesco.

Simon Norris, managing director, Nomensa, comments: “There are over 10 million disabled people in the UK4, and I believe that each one of those has a right to be able to buy a Christmas present online for a friend or loved one this year. These research findings show that anyone with serious physical impairments, the visually impaired or even just people wearing glasses to read would encounter difficulties and in many cases would give up trying.”

He continues, “Many of the corporations audited invest millions each year in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. Today I am calling on the boardrooms of these retailers to really start to take their online responsibility just as seriously.”

There are also countless millions of people with conditions that affect the way they access the Internet, but do not feature on any register. For example: learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, cognitive impairments, people with glasses or those that have Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

Summary of research findings

Not one homepage achieves Single-A compliance – the minimum requirement by law
Only three Terms and Condition pages achieved Single-A accessibility
23 websites had search forms, navigational links or advertising banners that failed to work without Javascript
29 websites used graphical text that would be difficult for people wearing glasses to read
Just two sites, Apple Computer and John Lewis, of the 30 tested, provided appropriate text descriptions for all images which helps people who are blind or partially sighted understand the purpose of visual content
25 websites used pop-up windows, despite growing opposition to their general use, causing significant problems for people with a variety of disabilities
29 websites did not use shortcut links to help people with serious physical impairments navigate through a page

Five steps towards improving accessibility

Taking steps towards OSR shouldn’t be seen as an add-on or a financial drain for an organisation. The commercial benefits of web accessibility are considerable; they far outweigh the costs of implementing an accessible website. Aside from the obvious revenue opportunities for a retailer opening their doors to a potential 10 million shoppers, an accessible website is also more search engine friendly and more cost effective to run and maintain.

Nomensa recommends that retailers:

1. Find out what current level of accessibility they currently achieve;

2. Decide what their accessibility goals are in the short, medium and long term;

3. Plan a strategy to meet those goals;

4. Achieve the goals set ensuring that accessibility is high on the corporate agenda;

5. Maintain the achievement; implement a process to ensure accessibility is sustained.

-ENDS-

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Nomensa

Established in 2001, Nomensa is the digital agency specialising in perfecting online user experience. It combines usability, accessibility and strong web development skills to help public and private sector clients develop online strategies, be more inclusive and accountable.

Nomensa has a research based methodology that put people at the centre of its activities. Everything it does focuses on understanding the experience people have when using technology.

Nomensa currently works with a variety of public and private sector clients, including Haringey Council, Local Directgov, British Gas and Broads Authority.

www.nomensa.com

For more information or a copy of the full report, please contact:

James Fitzgerald
pressoffice@immediatefuture.co.uk
0845 408 2031

Published on: 12:00AM on 21st September 2006