One of the things we always look at when adding intelligent chatbots to the marketing team is overall digital accessibility: an essential consideration in order to improve both UX and customer satisfaction. This then leads to better conversion rates without a doubt.
When marketers talk about digital accessibility then they imply the creation of an experience which will be accessible to many Internet users. There are many audiences who should receive consideration when designing for digitalization. There are those people with physical limitations to be accommodated. There are those who make use of assistive technologies such as magnifiers or screen readers when they look at digital content. You need a digital experience which is created with the idea of accessibility Incorporated into it from the start. This should not be something which is added on later. There are several key accessibility principles which have to be kept in mind when one starts with the creation of digital marketing materials.
It is a well-known fact that accessibility is positively impacted by the use of color. Extensive research has been done in this area especially among people with poor eyesight. There are people who are sensitive to contrasts, others suffer from glare sensitivity and there are also other problems which are plaguing people. This is why it is important to carefully consider the color scheme which is going to be used. A favorable contrast of colors has to be selected to ensure that fonts are used which ensures that text clearly discernible from the background color.
It should be remembered that color alone will not be sufficient to provide people with vision impairments an adequate access to digital information. It is a well-known fact that websites will sometimes use the color red to showcase something which is negative. They will also use the color green to showcase something positive. For someone with severe visual impairment, those strategies will be meaningless and ineffective. This is why it is a better strategy to combine something like icons or shapes with colors which are easy to recognize.
Carefully consider the use of fonts. There are many people that are attracted to artistic fonts. The reality is that some of the available fonts are simply easier to read than others. This is why the best approach as far as accessibility is concerned will be to use the more basic fonts. For people with visual impairments, the Sans-serif fonts are often easier to read. There is also the issue of size and therefore in order to ensure accessibility, all font sizes smaller than 12 should be avoided. Furthermore, relative units should be avoided. It is better to use absolute units such as points or pixels. To ensure that the texts are easy to read it is best to limit the number of fonts which is used.
Many marketers love to use moving or blinking texts but this is not a good idea as far as people with visibility issues is concerned. The best practice will be to choose simple fonts such as those with Sans-serif endings which is significantly easier for human eyes to recognize. Do not overdo the use of font variations and also limit the number of different sizes which is used.
There are so many people suffering from some form of visual impairment. Designers of artificial intelligence systems have already done a lot of research to accommodate all of those people. I remember how many people had problems with reading the Bible and how this led to large print Bibles. Likewise, over the years popular operating systems such as Windows had features which made it easier for people with visual impairments. Over the years there has been extensive research to allow artificial intelligence systems to be able to describe emotions, to read and also to recognize objects. Many of those very same technologies can also be employed to make it easier for people to access artificial intelligence information. This is why it is encouraging to see that designers who have attended the Tech Open Air Festival in Berlin were actually exhibiting assistive technology for those who are visually impaired. Statistics tell us that in the US alone an astonishing 10 million people are visually impaired or completely blind. According to available statistics in the next year, the amount of blind or partially blind people in the US will grow by 75,000.
It is, therefore, encouraging to see that there is a large amount of wearable tech and many apps which is now making use of AI to observe and then to verbally describe the environment around a blind person. Microsoft has been heavily involved in the world of artificial intelligence for many years. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that they have already released an iPhone app can be used by blind people or those with very weak eyesight. Wherever that person may go all they have to do is to point the camera of the smartphone at their surroundings. The app which has been installed on the smartphone will then proceed to describe the surrounding area to that person. Many of these applications have integrated facial recognition algorithms. This allows the blind person to save images of close friends and relatives. When the camera is pointed at such a relative or friend the app will recognize that person. That application can even describe the emotions of the people surrounding the blind person.
When the camera is pointed at texts the application will proceed to read it out loud. This sophisticated app is also able to scan a variety of documents and then to read them. As far as currency is concerned the application can recognize a wide variety of bank notes. When the blind person goes shopping they can use the barcode scanner which would allow them to identify items in the local supermarket. There can be no doubt that this is wonderful news for those with a variety of eyesight problems. So many things which were beyond their reach very recently has now become accessible to them. One can only hope that more designers of AI software will get involved in applications which will be aimed specifically at those with visual impairments.
Chatbots are a perfect solution for accessibility, especially those that can receive inputs via voice to text and can reply with text to voice. This technology is now available and widespread and is something of an accessibility revolution. You don’t have to be visually impaired to want to interact with a website or organisation page on a messaging platform in a hands-free way that does not require you to squint at your phone. That’s why a few years from now, we’ll see people walking and talking as if in conversation with a friend, but who are actually interacting bots to make bookings, get information, etc.
As you get comfortable with the huge benefits chatbots bring to marketing operations, remember too there are additional positives for their use, including accessibility, that play a big role in the user experience.
Adriaan Brits is the CEO of Sitetrail Media. He has trained more than 200 000 marketing staff for Linkedin Learning. He advises companies on marketing automation, PPC and other media decisions. Adriaan was an early adopter of chatbot technology and AI.