The digital industry has a global emissions footprint on par with the aviation industry. The exponential increase in websites, apps, devices and data means this footprint is in danger of increasing significantly. On top of this, research has shown that nearly 100% of homepages have some kind of accessibility failure.
But how do you balance the need for amazing digital experiences, which are expected from brands, with the need to be sustainable and accessible?
Earlier this month, we ran an event featuring a selection of digital, accessibility, sustainability and neuromarketing experts, which explored how we, as marketers, can work together to build a better web for all.
In this blog, we share three important takeaways that were too valuable to miss:
1. We all benefit from good design
Over 10 million people in the UK are disabled - and the chances are, we will all face some kind of impairment in our lifetime.
Accessibility is more than a set of guidelines and we’re being held back by sticking to minimum standards. Businesses need accessibility; design-led companies outperform other businesses by over 200% because they listen to real people - involving those who represent all users in the design process.
As digital experiences become an essential part of our daily lives - for activities such as banking and food shopping - and with nearly 100% of home pages featuring multiple accessibility failures such as low contrasts and missing alt-text, it’s clear that the digital needs of those with disabilities are not being met at present.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE OUR DIGITAL EXPERIENCES MORE ACCESSIBLE?
- Start small - Start a small working group to identify opportunities to improve accessibility and have them spread knowledge and achievements within your company. From there, you can start to involve other teams in the design, research and testing process. This will help to bring accessibility to the forefront of your team's thinking. You can also build empathy by encouraging the use of screen readers to help build an understanding of how those with impairments perceive and interact with the digital world.
- Build an Accessibility team - From the working group, you can then expand out and build an accessibility team. The purpose of an accessibility team is to integrate accessibility into design and development at all stages. Build a diverse set of personas - including personas that have disabilities - and ensure you design for their needs.
- Accessibility at scale - Once you have a solid foundation, you can start to scale up your accessibility initiatives to include accessibility champions – a group of ambassadors who are the first line of support, engaging the community and spreading awareness.
Remember, people are key - don’t just rely on tech solutions to improve your digital accessibility. Involve people with disabilities in your research, design and testing. Use experts and champion inclusivity throughout your business. Accessibility is the front line of design - we all benefit from good design - and building a culture of accessibility within your company drives innovation.
2. Neuromarketing can unlock a deeper understanding of users
There’s a huge array of reasons as to why we should be looking to understand how people use our systems - digital has exploded through necessity over the last 18 months and focus has shifted from pure digitisation of services, to making digital services much more accessible, efficient and effective.
Understanding how people behave and interact with digital experiences is at the heart of UX. We should seek to understand any impairments, preferences and nuanced response, as well as background and habits – in short, anything that may affect how people interact with the digital world. Accessing these insights can help us make better design decisions.
Creating engaging digital experiences starts with removing friction, improving usability and focusing on increasing motivation to encourage users to take a desired action or complete a desired task. As designers we want to create the easiest to use, most intuitive systems possible with little or no barriers, so people will want to connect and continue their journey, ensuring their experience is enjoyable, and above all, relevant to them.
HOW DO WE GET THIS KIND OF INSIGHT?
There are a wide variety of techniques we can use to gain a deeper understanding of our users and get a good view of how we can make our experiences better and drive engagement. Traditional research methods, whilst still important, are largely self-reported and prone to sending us off in the wrong direction. Why not try something different to really enhance your existing UX and customer research?
NEUROMARKETING AND EMOTIONAL RESPONSE
“Neuromarketing, simply put, is the application of neuroscience to marketing.”
Roger Dooley - Author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing
When talking about driving growth and predicting effectiveness, the best way to do this is to measure non-conscious emotional response, those responses that we, as humans cannot manufacture or colour with bias. To do this you need to measure with biometrics and neurometrics. Measuring human emotional response can give us an enhanced view of what someone is really feeling and insight into what they actually will do rather than relying on them to accurately tell us. Decades of research has told us that what people “say” they will do and what they will actually do are often significantly different.
SOUNDS GREAT, BUT HOW DO WE MEASURE EMOTIONAL RESPONSE?
- Eye-tracking – Tracking someone’s eye movements when interacting with a system can help us measure their attention, emotional reactions and map their gaze. Eye-tracking is great for web or visual layouts to see if someone is looking at what you want them to.
- Electrodermal activity (GSR) – GSR measures skin conductivity to identify emotional levels and stress – making it useful for all applications to measure the intensity of response.
- Facial expression analysis – This technology uses facial encoding to measure emotional response, allowing us to see how users are outwardly responding to our systems.
- Electroencephalography (EEG) - This is the practice of measuring brainwaves - it can help us to understand a user’s preference, engagement and motivation.
Neuromarketing gives us a unique opportunity to create more engaging and effective experiences - but it’s important to ensure that you’re choosing the appropriate research method, mixing methods where possible, and using a blend of traditional and technology-driven techniques. Ensure you are following inclusive and sustainable research and design standards, and don’t be afraid to challenge!
3. Cutting your website’s carbon footprint matters
The internet has a larger footprint than the airline industry – and it’s growing.
While that is a shocking fact, it’s important to note that there are several challenges you need to consider when it comes to measuring the carbon footprint of the internet - there are some unknowable factors. For example, the data you need for your Netflix marathon has to travel a long way, often through multiple countries, to reach your device - and every country produces a different amount of energy to their grid that comes from renewable sources. Even the brightness of someone’s screen can affect the level of C02e produced.
When it comes to reducing the carbon footprint of an individual website, that can also be difficult to quantify. For example, the website of a large UK company produces 3,500 tons of C02e per year, the equivalent of 10 million air miles, which sounds massive, but it’s only 0.025% of their output of 13.74 million tonnes of C02e - so why bother?
THE WIN/WIN OF WEBSITE CARBON REDUCTION
There are a multitude of reasons why reducing the carbon footprint of your website is beneficial, not just for the environment, but also for the overall UX of the site. Halving the steps in the user journey will not only half the carbon footprint of the site but it will also improve conversions. Similarly, halving the page weight will half the carbon footprint again, leading to a faster page loading time, which will improve conversions even further.
So, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment and giving your users a simpler, faster and more enjoyable experience - a win/win!
WHERE TO START?
BIMA’s Greenpages is a low carbon website, developed by the BIMA Sustainability Council, that hosts a curated set of resources that can be used by any digital team to help them build lower carbon digital solutions. Featuring tools such as an Eco Grader that allows you to measure how green your website is currently, along with resources that enable you to craft greener, more sustainable websites going forwards.
Every little helps, so while it may not seem like reducing the carbon of your website will make a massive difference, if we all do our bit - we can tackle a footprint larger than the airline industry.
If you’re looking to improve accessibility, design and digital sustainability for your brand, get in touch to find out how we can help. Want to hear more from our experts? You can access the full event recording here
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