Gone are the days of building a website in a simple table, with minimal user research or analytical data. Today, websites are far more sophisticated and personalized to create an exceptional user experience across many platforms. This vast advancement requires more data, and more data requires more compliance and regulation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the General Data Protection Regulation govern your website to ensure you’re providing an accessible and transparent web experience.

By adhering to these regulations, you will remove barriers that prohibit users from becoming customers, avoid litigation issues, and create a better overall user experience for everyone. Here’s what you need to know in order to keep your website compliant…

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

15% of the world’s population has some form of a disability. ADA website compliance laws work to serve this population.

Founded in 1990 by the Department of Justice (DOJ), ADA provides companies, organizations, and government entities with specific website guidelines to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to digital media.

While it can be complicated and costly to meet these guidelines, it has a significant return on investment. You will avoid increases in government crackdowns, while also augmenting your ability to reach and interact with this demographic. 

The Department of Justice uses the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to determine if a website is compliant with ADA regulations. 

Related: ADA Compliance; It’s the Law

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the standards for online accessibility. It created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to standardize compliance internationally.

There are four main principles that the WCAG is based on. Your content must fit into four categories: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Under each of these, WCAG branches out into detailed recommendations, which are graded using the following compliance levels.

  • A – As the beginner level, your website meets the bare minimum of compliance. For example, text alternatives are provided for non-text content, or your site is structured logically.
  • AA – As the intermediate level, this is a good level of accessibility on your website. This grade means your website contains assets such as live videos with captions, and consistent icons and buttons used throughout the site.
  • AAA – As the most advanced level, it’s the most desirable of the three. It means that your website meets all of the accessibility requirements. For instance, it doesn’t contain images of text, it offers clear audio for listeners to hear, and it provides a text alternative to videos. 

There are over 1.8 billion websites in the world. However, many are not fully accessible to those with physical or mental impairments. With an ADA compliant website, you will instantly gain a competitive advantage. Your website will reach a broader audience, create a seamless user experience, and reduce the chance of legal litigation. 

Download: Accessibility in Web Design

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This month, compliance regulations were set to an even higher standard.

GDPR is the latest EU regulation that will require businesses to protect the private information of consumers residing in the 28 European member states. It is an initiative to give all EU citizens control of their personal information and harmonize any previous protection regulations that preceded GDPR.

If you process data of European citizens in any way, you will need to implement data protection procedures to ensure customer privacy. There are many elements to consider when it comes to complying with GDPR. For example, you should make sure that any forms on your website only include fields that are absolutely necessary. If you don’t need to call your clients, there is no need to include a phone number field in any contact form.

In addition, users must be informed of and choose to accept actions that may involve the collection of data. This includes agreeing to terms and conditions or signing up to receive a newsletter. Many registration forms contain a terms and conditions checkbox, but selecting it will also sign the user up for the newsletter. With GDPR, this type of simultaneous action will no longer be permitted.

There will be strict penalties for companies who break GDPR rules. Organizations in breach of GDPR can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover or $24.6 million – whichever is larger. Therefore, it is crucial to prepare your organization with a clear compliance strategy to avoid large fines.

Be sure to stay in-tune with the rules of GDPR so that your organization is secure and compliant with the law.

Related: GDPR: Giving Control Back to Consumers

We Are in a Regulated Industry!

Website compliance is crucial in today’s digital world. A compliant website gives every online user an equal and transparent web experience. By following ADA and GDPR compliance, you will ensure that your website caters to a broad range of audiences, while avoiding any legal risks.

Educate your team on the importance of digital compliance, and ensure that your website is fair, transparent and designed for success.

Accessibility in Web Design: What It Is and How to Implement It