Brand + User Experience Through the Lens of Online Accessibility
As marketers, we’re often thought of as the company megaphone, meaning that we want our message to connect with as many in-market people as possible. But, sometimes in order to reach a wider audience getting louder isn’t the only option, or even the best one. Let’s think about branding and user experience (UX) as they relate to marketing and reaching a wider audience.
Your brand is what connects people to products and services. We are all innately drawn to brands that reflect our lifestyle preferences or the lifestyle we want to portray. Without good branding or design, industry competitors are indistinguishable from one another — or worse, unmemorable. Yikes.
Basically, your brand conveys everything that sets your property or community apart from the competition. And, to build on this, your brand identity is the promise you make to customers through your values, ethos, and how you communicate about your property or community.
In order to live up to their customer promise, brands must be genuine and authentic. Customers are savvy. It’s a huge fail for brands to create personas and customer experiences that are not representative of their ethos, products, and services. Customers might not be able to point their finger to which part of a company’s branding isn’t quite right — but they’ll vote with their wallet somewhere that feels trustworthy. These sometimes hard to articulate branding elements work on a subconscious level and when done right are the hallmarks of a well-built brand.
Brand + UX
User experience isn’t a new concept in 2021, but UX demands a little more empathy today to cut through the digital noise. So, think of it this way: human-focused design.
The mix of people turning to the internet — for answers, solutions, entertainment, social interactions, work, and school — has expanded in unprecedented ways. Not only is there more diversity in what we’re doing online, but there is more diversity in who is online. Individuals of all ages and all levels of tech-savviness are getting a crash course on being their own at-home IT department.
Once upon a pre-pandemic-time, it was easier to put off-website or branding refreshes because a business could rely more on in-person exchanges. And, as we’ve all learned, you don’t need to be in-person to add a personal touch. Branding and UX build the bridge for future renters or residents and ensure that your property is as welcoming digitally as you’d be in-person.
Companies have a responsibility to craft easy, intuitive online experiences.
Brand + UX + Accessibility = Wider Audience
The dance between branding, user experience, and technology isn’t always coordinated, or easy. But, websites are in a unique position. Researching Rosie Renters or Sally Seniors have already reached your website, and you’ve won a few minutes of their time. What you do from there determines the ultimate outcome: winning or losing their attention, and meeting or failing to meet their accessibility needs.
Bottom line: websites need to meet basic accessibility requirements — and branding allows us to do it with memorable experiences and pizazz. The best resource, and most widely accepted standards for website accessibility are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. And, accessibility is a constantly moving target, with both new technology and requirements. These standards provide structure for developing websites that accommodate users who rely on assistive devices, adding a layer of usability to your website and improving the experience for all users.
This attention to user experience makes your website stand out from the competition and shows renters you care. As an added bonus, you’ll reach a wider audience as nearly 20% of the population has a disability. P.S. This number is closer to 46% in senior populations. Everything from making sure your website is screen-reader compatible, to selecting the right colors for your business fall into making sure your materials are accessible. 8% of men and .5% of women are affected by color vision deficiency, sometimes called color blindness, and 99% of those impacted are affected by red-green color blindness. A fully saturated red-green palette, in addition to looking like holiday decor, will be difficult for them to see. Therefore, consider making one of the colors either darker or lighter to increase visibility and make sure your branded materials are accessible to all.
Lawsuit Risk + Is There an App for That?
The risk of website accessibility lawsuits is increasing. In 2020 alone, there were 3,500 digital accessibility lawsuits filed in the U.S. Even more worrisome is that an estimated 250,000 legal demand letters were sent to businesses last year requiring that companies comply with WCAG standards or pay “settlements” to certain law firms. The next version of WCAG is expected to arrive this year, and this new version will likely spark another increase in the quantity of lawsuits.
There is a notion that adding an accessibility widget to your website alone will make it accessible and WCAG compliant. To that we say: myth! There are some manual, behind-the-scenes efforts that are needed to make sure that your website accommodates all researching renters and residents. At G5, we’ve been launching WCAG compliant websites since 2019, and all websites now launch at WCAG 2.1. We know compliance is a moving target, which is why we believe in ongoing website compliance audits with up-to-date accessibility standards.
Branding and user experience provide your property or community with the opportunity to make folks feel welcome and included. Balancing the creative and analytical sides of brand + UX is not only art, but science too. Download the final report in the G5 MarTech Series: Brand + UX to learn more.