Website Considerations Beyond Conversions – hidden things to think about when building an accessible and ethical website

How many people truly love their website? Over and over, even people with brand new (expensive) websites feel like there are things to fix and they want to change. I get it. For solo business owners especially, your website is a reflection of YOU, and it is tempting to want to get it just right. Consistently I see businesses over-invest in websites (in time and money) when there are other aspects of their business that need more attention. A website is important, but I don’t believe it’s the make-or-break of a thriving business.

I had been dragging my feet on building a new website for years until my developer finally said “Your theme hasn’t been supported since 2017, there isn’t much more we can do to fix what you have.” My mastermind buddies had also been on me to update it, and I started noticing I was reluctant to send people my website ever. It was time.

Part of the overwhelm for me was because I had learned so much about what goes into a website to make it accessible, ethical, and have a low carbon footprint, and I just wasn’t ready to tackle those things with my full attention. I wanted to lead by example and show people what was possible, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it just right. Finally I decided I couldn’t wait any longer, and I just had to do my best without driving myself bananas. My “good enough” website project took flight.

Choosing Brand Colours

I knew I wanted to update my brand colours to be more vibrant and interesting. I wanted them to feel playful, and I wanted them to appeal to a creative person. Without a doubt, choosing them was the hardest part of the website process. Some things I was considering that made it challenging:

  • The colours needed to be accessible. This meant considering people with colour blindness or other visual impairments, so high contrast was important. I used this accessible colour pallet builder to help.
  • I wanted to reduce the use of pure white and pure black. White uses the most energy so it has the highest environmental impact, and black text on a white background can cause eye strain.
  • They had to feel good to me. I have to look at them the most, so I had to like them!

I did not consider what printing them on paper or elsewhere would be like since that isn’t something that I usually do, but for some people this would be very important.

Environmental Impact

When I realized that our web presence has a carbon footprint because of data centres and energy use I went down a deep rabbit hole. There are so many ways you can reduce the carbon footprint of your website, and I wanted to do them all. But this was just too much for me to take on (and then the hypocrisy of scrolling Instagram or anything online started to freak me out) so I just focused on a few things. You can use this website to calculate your website’s carbon footprint.

  • My website was so out of date it was scoring terribly, so just updating it at all was a win.
  • Like I said before, I tried to reduce my use of white on the site.
  • I intended to have very few images, but that didn’t really happen in the end. I still have some work to do with this. Specifically I will reduce the image sizes and that should make a difference.
  • I chose a popular font that most people will already have loaded on their computer or mobile device so it won’t have to download when they come to my site.
  • Hosting itself can be problematic, so I at least made sure my site was hosted with renewable energy. I would prefer it to be better, but it is good enough for now.
  • Continuing to use WordPress meant that I have a bit more control over my options than platforms like Squarespace.
  • I’m not currently using Google Analytics (for lots of reasons) but I’d like to find a greener and more ethical alternative. We’ll see if that’s possible.


In addition to the colour considerations, there were a few other things I aimed for with accessibility:

  • The font size had to be a minimum of 16px so it would be easier to read
  • I’m learning more about alt-text for images and adding them where appropriate
  • Buttons and links are more clearly labelled so they can be understood properly if someone is using a screen reader and so they change in some way for people with visual impairments
  • I chose a font that is easier to read for people with dyslexia

Ethical Copy and Design

I have so much more to learn here, so like the other categories this is an ongoing process. Primarily for this iteration I focused on ethical copywriting. I wanted to make sure my copy didn’t pressure people into buying, gave them clear and transparent information, and didn’t use any manipulative tactics.

My go-to ethical copywriter is Lauren Van Mullem from Truer Words by Lauren. I bought her workbooks to write my own copy, then I used her Copyrocking service to make the words come to life. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and this is a big thanks to Lauren’s brilliance.

For the actual development of the site I used Luke and Jeremy from Chunky Duck. I’ve known Luke since I first became a coach, so I know he’s a great human and I felt excited to supportwork with him.

Ethical Advice

This wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to my coach and advisor, Caroline Leon. Caroline is an ethical business coach who has taught me so much about doing business in a kinder, more conscious way. Between her and the amazing women I’ve met through her masterminds, my views on business have evolved in the most wonderful ways.

I also relied on some fantastic articles and writers to help me understand the world of accessible and ethical website design. I’ve listed a few below:

An Inclusive and Planet-Friendly Digital Style Guide 

How To Design an Accessible Color Scheme

Understanding Type

The Power of Contrast 

My website is far from perfect and it’s certainly not finished. As I collect feedback from people I will continually improve, and as I gain confidence with the principles above I will continue to do better. But for now I’m refocusing on my incredible clients and the impact I can have on them and their businesses.

Looking for an alternative to the mainstream business advice you read online? Stephanie gives you practical guidance to do business on your own terms. No nonsense, thorough, and immediately useful, these weekly emails cut to the chase of what you really need to succeed without compromising your values or working yourself into the ground. To get articles and behind-the-scenes business insights delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to her weekly Permission Slips here.