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How Soludos Leveraged
UsableNet Assistive to Make Its Shopify Website ADA Accessible


Founded in 2010, Soludos is a fashion retailer based in the SoHo neighborhood
of New York City that makes high-end shoes and accessories. Inspired by travel,
the company is known for its innovative style and high-quality materials and construction.

Soludos has expanded its focus to include e-commerce and a superior direct-to-consumer experience. The company reaches its target market—young, professional women—primarily through social media.

As with many other successful companies, Soludos’ journey to accessibility led it from an inaccessible site to a fully accessible digital presence, maintained by UsableNet’s Assistive solution.

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The Challenge

In February 2018, Soludos migrated to Shopify Plus and reworked its entire site.

Although Shopify provides a robust e-commerce experience, including a foundation for accessibility, additional work was needed once the site was built to make it fully accessible.

Soludos hired UsableNet to conduct an accessibility audit on it’s newly minted Shopify website, based on the company’s solid reputation with retail industry leaders in New York.

After receiving the results of the audit and reviewing them both internally and with it’s Shopify development partner, Soludos knew it needed more help with accessibility than what it’s existing resources and partners might provide.

Soludos also wanted the work completed quickly, cost-effectively, and with ongoing support in order to maintain accessibility as products were updated seasonally. Solutions to the issues outlined in the audit required in-depth and time-consuming work for the design, dev, and test teams. It included adjustments to the theme layer in some of the following areas:

  • Images and alt text. Fallback text is essential for users of screen readers, who may not be able to see graphical elements.
  • Icons. Icons are nearly ubiquitous in online retail, but accessible views will hide them from screen readers and instead use span tags with fallback text.
  • Forms. Many common functions of an e-commerce site require forms—leaving a comment or review, signing up for a newsletter, even checking out. Labeling each field with text-based instructions can be an easy way to achieve accessibility.
  • Tables. Headers and labels within a table can be customized with text, making them accessible to screen readers.
  • Pricing display. Conveying prices clearly is essential for successful e-commerce. Avoid superscript and use span tags to display cents on the dollar.
  • Color contrast. Proper pairing of background image and text is a key component of a universally accessible site.

As Soludos was expanding it’s website and reviewing the results of the audit, fellow New York-based retailers had become targets of accessibility lawsuits, with 1,471 filed in the state in 2018 (64 percent of the nationwide total), which works out to a stunning 123 cases filed per month. Soludos opted for a more proactive approach that would expand access to users of all abilities while avoiding potential legal action.

"When you really start to think about the accessible view and the impact it has on people who are visually impaired, we just wanted to do the right thing as a company."

- Brigid Foster, Chief Operating Officer

Chapter 2

The Solution

After the accessibility audit, the to-do list was far too long for the retailer’s limited time and staff resources. Soludos switched to the fully managed UsableNet Assistive service and found it made a world of difference.

Out of all the project implementations Soludos had experienced over its 10 years of operation, UsableNet’s process was one of the smoothest—comprehensive and seamless. UsableNet provided a detailed plan, regular status updates, and complete transparency throughout the quality assurance (QA) process.

Assistive took on all the heavy lifting to make the site accessible, leaving Soludos’ staff free to focus on other aspects of growing the business. UsableNet made the site conform with WCAG 2.0 AA by fixing issues on the site, including those found with automated testing tools, manual review, and testing by people with disabilities, including screen readers. Other Shopify retailers such as Leesa Sleep, Heyday Skincare, Untuckit, and Patricia Nash, have also found Assistive to be an invaluable solution.

"Our account manager, Max, has been wonderful, so responsive.He’s done a great job. The company is really good about answering questions and helping us to completion. There’s a real trust there.They’ve been really good to work with."

- Brigid Foster, Chief Operating Officer

Chapter 3

The Results

The project was efficient and produced a fully accessible WCAG 2.0 AA site in just under a month. With Assistive, Soludos’ staff are free to update the site, and its accessibility will remain intact. As the company grows and breaks into other areas of e-commerce, its new products, features, and marketing content can all be seamlessly integrated into the already-accessible framework

In addition to the potential economic benefits, Soludos’ accessible site demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to welcoming as wide an audience as possible. Other benefits include: 

  • Impenetrable brand integrity. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to convey a company’s values and make a positive impression. With a fully accessible site, chances are good that people will have a positive experience with Soludos and share it.
  • Enhanced SEO. Search engines look at conversions, bounces, and complaints when ranking sites. Accessibility improves all these stats.
  • Reduced long-term costs. Money spent now on increased access will reduce or eliminate future legal expenses and emergency design fixes.

Chapter 4

The Future

For Soludos, an ongoing commitment to accessibility is both a business necessity and a moral imperative. It is also a complex undertaking, which led the company to first adopt UsableNet’s AQA tool and then switch to the cloud-based Assistive solution, once the company realized the scope of the endeavor. Soludos will now be able to stay on top of the latest ADA and WCAG standards, keep accessibility in the foreground as the company grows, and work with third-party vendors to incorporate new functionality.

Under UsableNet’s watchful eye, Soludos will stay abreast of the current legal climate and receive recommendations on any changes needed to stay compliant and accessible. Most importantly, this partnership provides the company with the peace of mind that comes with knowing it can serve the widest possible audience, which has cleared the way for continued growth through 2019 and the launch of new product categories.

UsableNet’s solution provides Soludos—and many other retailers—with a digital platform that integrates accessibility into its current website, be it on desktop, smartphone, or tablet.

When it comes to accessibility, a trusted industry leader can help you avoid time-consuming updates and potentially expensive legal consequences. Our Assistive approach is a great place to start. Ready to jump right in? We’d love to talk.

"Out of all the project implementations I have had done in the past, working with UsableNet was seamless and our project was handled really well. They really are experts and did the majority of the heavy lifting. We can’t recommend them enough."

- Brigid Foster, Chief Operating Officer

Chapter 10


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