A big focus for businesses today is making sure all customers have an equal opportunity to succeed online. This means taking steps to ensure that everyone has the same access to your website’s functions, regardless of their age, location, or technological ability. Building digital equity is essential for any institution looking to create a truly inclusive online experience. In this article, we will discuss some ways you can achieve this goal and provide a level playing field for all of your customers!
The State of Digital Equity Today
Unfortunately, the state of digital equity is not as good as it could be.
There are a number of factors that contribute to this problem, but one of the biggest is cost. The monthly price of broadband service, for example, can be a significant barrier for low-income families.
Another factor is lack of digital literacy. As we discuss below, digital literacy is an important consideration for anyone looking to succeed online. However, there are still many people who lack the ability to use information and communication technologies effectively.
With unlimited funding, one could in theory provide technology devices for all of their customers, or provide access to free or low-cost internet. This could be done through public Wi-Fi hotspots or working with local ISPs to offer discounted rates for families in need.
But these goals, lofty as they are, don’t necessarily address the user experience hurdles that contribute to digital illiteracy. As such, they are misaligned with most institutional missions.
Most institutions, by contrast, can make an immediate difference by switching to online response tools that make feedback easier for the user. It’s not as flashy as giving away free laptops and WiFi, but online commenting software DOES ensure that most people have an equal opportunity to be heard.
Digital Literacy is Important
The term digital literacy can be defined in a number of ways, but for our purposes, we’ll define it as the ability to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information.
This is an important skill for anyone looking to succeed. After all, if you can’t use the internet to find information or communicate with others, you’re at a significant disadvantage. But the gap between the digitally illiterate and literate is shrinking.
The reality is, people use commenting software every day and don’t realize it. When someone writes a review of a restaurant on Yelp, they are commenting to provide feedback to that business, which the business can then use to better support its clients. The ability to collect that feedback in more complex scenarios, say for a housing project that affects the adjacent community, is incredibly important.
There are a number of ways you can help support digital literacy for your customers by meeting them where they interact online. Whatever your solution is, it needs to be scalable in a way that tailors to the needs of those with limited experience. This could include live chat features, FAQs, and even video tutorials. By providing this type of support, you are helping to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed online.
SmartComment’s Web-based software for engagement campaigns provides a perfectly scalable approach for individual projects or regulatory agencies and consultants requiring ongoing support.
What Can You Do?
Now that we’ve talked about what digital equity is and why it’s important, you might be wondering what you can do to support it. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Meet people where they exist. People live online, so engage with them there. User experience issues can be fixed over time – don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Make sure you employ an online solution that scales to meet people of all walks of life.
- Support digital literacy: This could include live chat features, FAQs, and even video tutorials.
- Make your content accessible: This means ensuring that your website can be accessed by people with disabilities and that your content can be translated into other languages.
By taking these steps, you can help to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed online.
Digital equity is important for a number of reasons. First, it levels the playing field and gives everyone an equal chance at success. Second, it helps to support digital literacy. And finally, it makes sure that everyone has access to the same information and resources.
As we move forward into the digital age, it’s important that we do everything we can to support digital equity. By taking steps to close the digital divide, we can help to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.