12 May 2020
Hardwiring inclusivity into our document analysis and awards
As part of our consultancy service, we work with businesses to help them create inclusive customer facing documents. The very best in the market are awarded our Clear and Simple Mark, which recognises outstanding clarity of both language and design.
The bar is higher than for similar awards, and as a result only a handful of documents carry it. But that hasn’t prevented us from continually tightening our criteria, to make sure it reflects the needs of every customer.
Our latest addition is something we already measure as part of our Customer Experience Ratings: colour contrast. Those with visual impairments, such as colour blindness, can find documents with poor colour contrast difficult, or even impossible, to read.
Why is it important?
Colour blindness affects a surprisingly large number of people across a range of age groups. There are around 3 million colour blind people in the UK (about 4.5% of the population), so documents with poor colour contrast exclude a large chunk of the market.
And it’s not just documents: many websites also suffer from colour contrast issues. If a customer can’t read a website, they’re unlikely to buy the product, so there’s potential for missing out on new business as well.
How is it measured?
We use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 benchmark to assess both documents and websites.
To pass the WCAG 2.1 criteria, all text in a document must have enough contrast with its background. Text with a contrast ratio below 7:1 is classed as a AAA error.
Text with an even poorer ratio (below 4.5:1) is classed as a more serious AA error.
In our Customer Experience Ratings, a document or website must have no colour contrast errors at all to achieve full marks. Those with any number of AA or AAA errors are marked down accordingly.
For the Clear and Simple Mark, we’ve set the bar at no AA errors. Less serious AAA errors are allowed, but we intend to review this as the market improves.
How’s the industry performing at the moment?
Surprisingly badly. Across all sectors, 89% of websites we analysed contained some form of colour contrast error. This is clearly an issue – not just for customers, but for businesses as well. If a potential customer finds your website too difficult to read, they’re more likely to look elsewhere than ask for help.
We believe customers should be able to read and understand information about their financial products, and this underpins much of what we do. But we also believe in supporting businesses to make changes that will benefit themselves as well.
Fixing colour contrast issues is a simple and inexpensive way to improve customer reach in your sector. So if you’re investing money in your website to compete in a digital age filled with new challenges, it’s worth taking a look at fixing an old one too.
Need some help?
At Fairer Finance, we specialise in helping firms communicate more clearly. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can support your business, give us a call on 020 3026 8541 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.