Is Your Website ADA-Compliant?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in areas of public life—on the job, using public transportation, school—in fact, all public and private places that are open to the general public. And there’s no place more “open to the general public” these days than the Internet and your website.

The Justice Department has taken the position that the ADA does cover Internet website access, mobile applications, and all forms of information and communication technology. So far, the DOJ has only hinted that private commercial sites are at risk of a lawsuit. But disability proponents are actively and aggressively moving the countdown clock to just that.

ADA-compliant_websitesAs website designers, we have for some time integrated most of these guidelines, not as ADA issues, but as SEO issues (see May’s blog regarding SEO). We also pay great attention to the User Experience, for example, instead of posting a photo image as a number, we give every image a descriptive name. A photo of a “red sunset” might be named “red_sunset.jpg”, not “345209876.jpg”.

Designers like us will need to build new elements into new and existing websites. For example, adding a type of code that allows screen reader technology to convert text to audio for the visually impaired.

We are reviewing our current customers’ sites to assess what’s needed to follow the new WCAG 2.0 standards. If you are our current customer, you can expect to soon receive our assessment.

If you own a website designed by a developer that is no longer in business, or one that is not interested in getting your website into compliance, ActiveCanvas may be able to help you.

If you are not sure whether your website needs to be brought up to WCAG 2.0 standards, please give us a call at (772) 932-7969 or drop us a note and include your website address.

Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Quick List

  • Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
  • Provide alternative for time-based media.
  • Create content that can be presented in different ways (e.g. simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.
  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Provide users enough time to read and use content.
  • Do not design content in a way that is know to cause seizures.
  • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.
  • Make text content readable and understandable.
  • Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
  • Assist users to avoid and correct mistakes.
  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

How to Choose Your Website’s Domain Name

Choosing a domain name for a new website, is an important business decision. Updating a domain for a current website to improve traffic results is an important business decision. Let’s look at some of the best practices and a few things to avoid when it comes to choosing domain names.

whats Your Brand

Make it match

Match your domain name to your brand—your company name. Why? When people hear about your product or service, they will type your company name into a search engine or a browser address bar.

Say what you mean

Short is good, but meaningful is better. When combining words, be sure the name says what you mean. The site for teachers, Teachers Talk, probably wishes it had not used the plural form for its brand name (teacherStalk), and therapist group’s site visitors keep seeing theRapist.

Check your results

Do a Google search for your brand. The results you see will be what others see. Be sure the domain name you choose, when googled, won’t put you in embarrassing company. You want to stand out in the crowd as honest, relevant, and meaningful.

Remember spellcheck

If your business is new, finding an available domain name can be a challenge! To get around this, company names are intentionally misspelled, like Flickr and Blnk. Keep in mind, someone searching for your name may see spelling correction suggestions at the top of search results and overlook your site even if it’s listed.

Think longterm

Choose a name and stick with it. It’s hard enough to print new business cards, but changing a domain name once registered and used on the web is much harder.

Use exact match domains safely

An exact match domain (EMD) is a domain name that precisely matches a search query that will likely drive traffic to your website. For example: buycheapjeansonline.com The problem is that Google sees EMDs as spam and may not even rank your EMD domain at all because they give an unfair advantage. But, if you are a solid, genuine business that just happens to have a brand name that also looks like an EMD, then you should be fine. Just be sure that your content supports your claim—and never forget that when it comes to websites, content is KING. Nothing else matters as much.

Do You Really Need SEO?

SEO water glassWe have a client with a product so unique, only a handful of markets use it. The site serves companies that play in that market with product updates and industry news. No one other than the businesses who need their product subscribe to their newsletter or product update notices. This client does not need SEO. They have, but they don’t need it.

However, we believe that most companies benefit from the basic building blocks of SEO—The Five C’s: Code, Content, Connections, Communications, and Capture.

Let’s take look at each building block:

Code

Every website should have underlying code that Google, Bing, and Yahoo can use in order to rank the site on a search engine results page (SERP). These are often referred to as meta tags. How to write certain meta tags is a science in itself and usually requires identifying the keywords used by direct competitors.

Content

The content on your site (and content about you elsewhere on the web) is your single most important SEO ingredient. SEO-friendly content satisfies the search engines and delights and amazes your prospects. Keyword phrases done well are subtle, relevant, and read like we speak. If you’re overaggressive with SEO keywords, a site can actually be “punished” with a lower rank or no rank at all. Writing SEO-friendly content is an art.

Connections

It’s called link-building, and it’s the most difficult to do well because it requires engagement. Not the proposal-leading-to-marriage kind of engagement, but link exchanges with “influencers” in your market. So if your site boasts the world’s first electric tractor, you want Farm Industry News writing about you and linking to your website. Don’t pay anyone to find broken links on other sites with the offer to replace the broken link with yours. Google wants high quality SERPs and will punish those who abuse their algorithm.

Communications

Social media is not SEO. But using social media to engage with customers and influencers is one of the best ways to create the connections that lead to SEO-helpful links. Don’t get me wrong, we all belong at the Social Media Marketing Table. So when you post, keep in mind who you are posting for—your customer and a potential industry influencer.

Capture

As Alice said to the Cheshire cat, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” When looking at website traffic, we can’t know how well we are doing today unless we know how well we did yesterday. Google Analytics embedded in a website is just the beginning. Knowing how to analyze the data, then change, alter, add to or get rid of certain content on your website is critical to a site’s success.

What if No One is Picking Up What You’re Putting Down?

Let’s say you have invented a new product that has proven immensely popular with the friends and family whom you persuaded to try it. It could be the next top-seller gadget for 2018, but no one is searching for it because no one knows it exists. Running keyword research is a waste of time—keywords won’t exist yet. You have to create them! In these cases, the best SEO tactic is paid search in an awareness campaign. The good news is that the cost of paid search is affordable—there’s no competition in this case. Once there’s demand, return to an SEO strategy and drop or scale back any AdWords campaign.

Want to check out your website’s SEO potential? Email us and we’ll send you our SEO Best Practices Guide. Or just call (772) 932-7969. Do it now!