Weblogs: Web Accessibility

Tesco Access

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Tesco's web site offers online shopping facilities which is ideal for us lazy couch-shoppers as well as people with disabilities.

Tesco two site approach

The current version of the Tesco website heavily depends on visuals for usability. When it came to making reasonable adjustments for web accessibility Tesco, along with the backing of the RNIB, decided to create a separate accessible version of the online shopping services.

I've commented on Tesco's approach previously, praising both their proactive approach to accessibility, as well as pointing out the problems the two-site approach entails. Matt May produces an excellent argument against having two separate websites.

Analysis of Tesco's approach

There is a decent amount of articles and documents on the web covering Tesco's approach to accessibility. Tesco's aim was "to allow customers to purchase an average of 30 items in just 15 minutes from login to checkout".

Tesco took the approach recently recommended by the DRC - lots of testing with disabled people. Sean McManus notes:

Alpha testing involved 20 people who had various sight problems and took place between June and September 2000. The website developer would sit beside each alpha tester watching them use the site, looking out for problems, tweaking the design and then testing the reaction to design changes.

Tesco's accessibility benefits

Usability by design outline Tesco as a leading example of how accessibility is both a competitive advantage as well as a customer benefit:

Tesco have exclusive reach to an extra 350,000 customers just for starters! What's more interesting is that many non-disabled customers are switching from the main Tesco site to the Tesco Access site, because they find it easier and faster to use! In general when you improve access to your site for the disabled, you also make life easier for every other visitor as well. For example, the television remote control was originally designed to assist disabled viewers who could not easily cross the room and change channels - but this device now helps just about everyone with a TV set.

Tesco wins acclaim

AbilityNet reaffirmed the Tesco access website with the best rating so far in its quarterly state of the eNation reports. This adds to the RNIB Web Access award received in May 2001.

Recently, Julie Howell comments on the benefits of Tesco access:

Work undertaken by Tesco.com to make their home grocery service more accessible to blind customers has resulted in revenue in excess of £13m per annum, revenue that simply wasn't available to the company when the web site was inaccessible to blind customers.

Tesco access prefered by non-disabled people

Vnunet have a very interesting comment from an AbilityNet spokeswoman in regard to the accessible version of Tesco website:

"It is also popular with the non-disabled because they find it easier to use. Tesco is actually winding it in to its normal site. This is good for the disabled as well because nobody wants to feel 'ghettoised'"

If I am not mistaken, this is a real-world conclusion that accessible websites are easier to use than their non-accessible counterparts. Based on their conclusion, Tesco look to be migrating their main site from its current state into the accessible version.

Smart move Tesco!

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