The Cardiff-based company carried out a study of the various factors that contribute to website performance across a wide range of sectors including construction, travel, retail and finance.
The study looked at the features that enable people with auditory, physical, neurological and visual disabilities to easily navigate a site, engage with a business and find the information they are looking for.
It found that, based on elements including the use of alt text for images, closed captions for videos, and appropriate size and colour of fonts, those in the construction sector had, on average, an 80.4 accessibility score (as awarded by Google), putting them in the lowest position just behind retail (81.4) and fashion (83.4).
Illustrate Digital chief executive Scott Jones said: “It’s surprising to see construction businesses falling so far behind when it comes to their online accessibility, particularly given the amount of important work that’s gone into ensuring diversity and inclusion play a key role in the built environment. On-the-ground facilities have never been more accessible, and recruitment within construction is increasingly inclusive, with leaders even coming together to improve diversity, so it would make sense that the digital side of construction follows suit.
“A company’s online accessibility score is a good indicator of whether anyone, regardless of their abilities, can use and understand your website. Accessibility leads to increased user satisfaction, as well as enhancing brand sentiment and loyalty so it’s an incredibly important factor to take into consideration when it comes to your website.”
Illustrate Digital says that construction firms that want to improve the accessibility of their websites and invite users of all abilities to engage should consider adding alt text to images to make it easier for people with visual disability to understand the content, embed video with audio descriptions and transcripts, and use bolder fonts and increase contrast.
They should also encourage user feedback to help them improve their presentation.
Jones added: “In the UK it’s estimated that one in five users have an accessibility requirement so from a business perspective, having a difficult-to-use website could result in as much as a 20% loss in revenue. On the other hand, taking accessibility into consideration is not only vital for market share but can improve the reputation of a business, demonstrating that it is committed to providing equal access to its services.”