Macerich Real Estate: Achieving WCAG 2.0 AA Conformance with Deque Audit
Bringing property websites into WCAG conformance
Macerich, a leading owner, operator and developer of major retail real estate in the United States, supports nearly 50 different property websites that act as digital touchpoints for their physical locations. The properties are premiere retail centers that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors across the country to shop, dine, and host events. The property websites provide key information on tenant and retailer businesses as well as general property and location information.
The information on property websites is subject to change and often the first place a customer will go before visiting. That’s why it’s critical, says Mark Miller, Senior Manager, Digital Channels Development at Macerich, that the property websites “support tenants, retailers and allow users and shoppers to find what they’re looking for fast and easy.” With this in mind, Macerich looked to Deque for direction on how to bring their websites into conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA and provide an equal, accessible user experience to all who access their property sites.
Macerich’s public-facing property websites provide visitors with important information about the properties they’re visiting.
Addressing accessibility gaps with a Deque audit
Mark Miller and his team felt confident in choosing Deque as their accessibility partner because of Deque’s industry-leading automated testing browser extension, axe, coupled with comprehensive manual testing conducted by accessibility experts. “There are a lot of third-party tools out there that can evaluate your website,” Miller says. “But an automated scan of a website is not going to find all the issues. You need both automated and manual testing to make sure you’re getting the most coverage possible.”
With the audit results in hand, Miller and his team remediated the accessibility issues found on their property websites and validated the fixes with the axe Browser Extension. Miller was able to complete the audit project within its original scope and timeframe with the help of the Deque team and his third-party vendors. “Now we’re ready and more aligned than ever to achieve compliance,” he says.
“Deque is a reputable company, and the axe Browser Extension was a big win because
it’s an easily accessible, results-driven tool. It was the perfect solution for what we were looking for.
— Mark Miller Senior Manager, Digital Channels, Macerich
Expanding accessibility learnings across new websites
Macerich was able to correct accessibility issues across their 40+ property sites with the results of their audit. Following the property sites’ audit, Macerich expanded their accessibility work onto their corporate site. This project began with an accessibility design review from Deque and shifted Macerich’s accessibility practice further left in the development process. “There’s a lot to account for when you build websites, and it’s better to do accessibility before you start launching and developing,” reflects Miller. “I’m happy we’re doing this with Deque in the design phase before we start this new project.”
The Macerich team worked extensively with third-party developers such as those who provide interactive indoor maps for Macerich properties, shown above.
“Everyone needs to be mindful of accessibility and think of it as a process versus a one-off thing that they can forget about.”
Example question on the Macerich “WCAG Quiz,” designed for Content Managers to understand the basics of WCAG.
Driving WCAG awareness at Macerich
The initial audit project laid the foundation for the future of accessibility at Macerich. In addition to redesigning the corporate site, Mark Miller is working to reinforce what it means to be compliant and practice accessibility at Macerich by socializing accessibility and finding ways to keep it top-of-mind in the organization. “People are held accountable for learning what they need to do in order to make our sites compliant,” he says.
Miller created an accessibility quiz for employees who access the organization’s websites through their organization’s content management system (CMS). The quiz is meant to teach those who make changes to the website about the value and importance of accessibility and teach best practices like maintaining good header structure and alternative text. In this way, Macerich is changing how accessibility is thought about within the organization and reinforcing the idea that accessibility is everyone’s responsibility.