From June 2021 public service websites and apps must adopt accessibility requirements by law and universities and colleges around the UK have been progressing their websites and apps in order to be ready.
But as with any change, viewing this as a business critical opportunity for improvement can lead to better experiences for all users - as opposed to checking off another set of ‘musts’ for compliance.
You can find a full summary of the aspects of websites and apps in education that need to be addressed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-accessibility-regulations-campaign-supporter-pack/gds-accessibility-regulations-campaign-information-for-education
But let’s look at some of the opportunities of how to enhance your content from an accessibility perspective:
Search functions on sites can often prove ineffective too, with time wasted trying to find key information on each and every visit.
For a user with accessibility needs, being able to shorten this process and also for you to be proactive with that user each time they visit, will make the experience easier but also more engaging.
Integrate questions about accessibility needs within Cues.ai so users can indicate if they need additional support on navigating your site and information that could help inform their decision for example.
Accessible documents on your website are an important part of opening up your content to a broader audience - from alt text on images to html formats to tackle the inaccessible nature of PDFs.
Put simply, the guidance also highlights the importance of layout, clear communications and structure - principles we should be considering when putting web pages together for ALL audiences anyway.
Thinking of your website as a repository is an outdated approach to digital communications. Your users will have differing needs and being able to determine what content will best meet their needs each time they visit your website drives longer engagement with your content and from a recruitment perspective, improves conversion rates significantly.
We see this with processes such as international applications, which can require several stages, multiple forms and can take a longer time than domestic applications. By enabling prospects to pick up where they left off is far more efficient than starting from scratch.
View your page content like this as well - avoid the temptation of duplicating everything on every page and trying to serve all content for all users at once.
If you’re posting images without alt text, documents that some users can’t access properly and bury content in complex, duplicated pages - you’re not thinking about how that plays out as part of a conversation.
Every element of your website has an opportunity to improve the experience, conversation and overall impression of your institution. Investing in that; from getting your website and apps up to scratch for the legal requirements, to building it within your overall process - is a must.
This will also help you view your site as an opportunity for early conversations at every visit. Cues.ai works to not only identify what a prospect is interested in, what stage they are at and what might help them next, it also helps to strip out what they’re no longer interested in, what they don’t want and what isn’t helpful. We find that this is just as important as working out what they want - because it’s simply off-putting to be shown things that no longer interest them.
For accessibility users, these kinds of questions are also really helpful in determining what remarketing will best suit their needs and inform their decision to develop a more formal conversation with an institution.
Remember - a large proportion of research and decision-making is done even before a prospective student has shared their details with you.