Web Content Accessibility for Business

NetCetra just went through a few years helping our clients upgrade their web sites to conform to Google’s requirements for “responsive” (easy to read on any device) and “secure visitor viewing” of your web site through https.

We have been watching the WCAG guidelines that were established in 2008. We felt, at the time, that it would not impact many of our clients for some time. Well, that time is here, along with the lawsuits due to the guidelines. The lawsuits are occurring because the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations are outdated. Here is a short outline of why over 1,000 businesses were sued in the first half of 2018.

  • You must provide non-text alternatives for any text content so that it can be clearly understood by a person with a disability. An example of this is a restaurant menu. It must offer an alternative of either very large text, audio or symbols.
  • Prerecorded video: An alternative must be offered to allow a person with a disability to understand the video. An example could be a video production explaining a product or service. Either an alternative for time-based media or an audio track is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded video-only content.
  • Captions for live and prerecorded media. Creating captions similar to text alternatives in the first point.

A complete description is available by searching for “How to Meet WCAG 2”.  Retailers and professional services are the most vulnerable at this time. The ADA is trying to address this.

Once regulations are established, litigation will fall under the government and not civil law suits.  It is recommended that you review your web site and decide how you can avoid this problem.

We believe that this is not only NOT going away but will become even more widespread in the future. A simple product like Google Translator, offered in over 100 languages, can eliminate the language barrier, however according to the ADA it is still a legal issue.

 

Jim Mahlmann

COO

NetCetra LLC

The Current State of Web Sites

Interestingly enough, in the 24 years that I have been designing web sites as well as marketing and hosting them, they have gone through many changes. The one aspect that has not really changed in all this time is the complexity in designing a web site. We see the ads for ways to  build a site in less than one hour. Yes, you can do this but the problem is twofold. Let’s say that you want to leave your hosting company that you created it on, good luck moving it. These sites are created using WYSIWYG, “What You See Is What You Get”. This is not clean programming. It is literally thrown together by a software program with the only logic being that everything will end up where you want it when you first create it. This makes it very difficult to make major changes or transfer it to another server. Also, if you want to add internet marketing to the site for visibility on searches, it is extremely difficult. A professional programmer knows how to set up a web site so a marketing person can develop a marketing campaign with site changes and modifications on a regular basis. Automated site development can not accomplish this.

This leads to another issue that is occurring quite a bit with web design. Years ago, one person could create a web site and add it to a server for hosting and register a domain name. It is no longer that easy to do. Web sites that represent a brand new business web site, domain name and hosting can accomplish this fairly easy. But, the problem with this process occurs when the business owner tries to expand the web site with professional email addresses, a data base or wants better customer support. You are now limited if you do not have a team of professionals behind you.

One of the biggest problems that we face at NetCetra is the client that uses an inexperienced web designer, who is trying to do everything himself. Saves the client money up front but then pays for it with the additional outside support and time it requires to get the project completed. Our favorite is the designer who is creating a new site for one of our hosting clients and convinces them to move the site to the hosting company they are working with. Our support team generally gets an email asking us to change where the domain name is pointing to from our servers to the new hosting company. The problem with this is, the owner of the domain name has control over that. Our support team tells them that and they don’t understand why we cannot do it. Then, the support team asks them where they are putting the email address information. Again, lots of confusion and eventually they generally say that there is no problem. They are going to start all over again. That’s fine if the client is not storing messages and contacts on our mail server.

The bottom line regarding web site design, hosting and marketing is if you want it done correctly, you will really need a team of professionals to do correctly the first time. Web sites are constantly expanding for even the smallest client. Google adds requirements all the time i.e.; responsive web sites and secure web sites. You must comply with these rules if you want Google to keep you visible to prospective customers.

Free Web Sites * You Get What You Pay For

As the owner of a 20 year old web design, marketing and hosting company on the internet, I have seen it all. The one offer that stays around is the free web site. It is used, of course, to get you to sign up and get a free simple web site. It is a great opportunity for the beginner or is it? The biggest issue with these types of site is it a “do it yourself” set up. “Great!” you say but is it? These types of sites are templates that add the code in the background for you. The problem is this type of code is very heavy with extra coding because it is a templated site that builds on its own. A designer writes page coding to be simple and easy to read and change. OK, so now you have this site, it looks good and you are pushing traffic to it. A chance of being found as an unbranded product or service is tough. Yup, they all say they will promote it for you. Ask any internet marketing person and they will tell you that it is a consistent updating process to satisfy the major search engines. And if you are trying to get more than local exposure it is much tougher.

Generally, the next step, if you want results or if the free site after a year is no longer free, you decide it is time to move to a more professional hosting company. Here is where it gets a little tougher. Trying to do it yourself can be a real hassle. You must be sure to move to the same platform and depending on the type of template and coding, it may not move well at all. This, of course, means a redesign to some degree by a professional who can modify the existing site.

All in all, if you are serious then the best way to do it is to start with a professional design. It may not be free but chances are expanding, marketing and moving become much easier and cheaper.

Jim Mahlmann

NetCetra LLC

Mobilized Web Sites

Now that over 50% of all web site views are done from smart phones. Tablets in the US are at around 10% and outside the US; tablets are around 50 – 60%. Businesses are beginning to learn this information and are having their site “mobilized”.

Businesses should remember that there are two types of mobile sites, mobile sites and responsive sites.

The first type is a mobile site (.mobi) that is separate from the desk top version. That means it needs additional content and must be modified separately from the main site. So it takes twice the time to update.

The second type is called a “responsive mobile web site”. This takes the original web site and changes the programming to make it respond to the size of the screen and set up appropriately. This, of course, means that you have only one web site and changes are done once. It also presents the content better and does not require going to the full web site to get content. Some think this is very impracticable when you are viewing on a smart phone. It defeats the purpose.

If you need a mobile website contact Netcetra at 732.262.7888.

Is Your Website Current?

If you don’t update you aren’t current
Updating is critical in creating a current and complete website. Introducing a new product? Win an award? Been on TV? Have newsworthy announcements? Change of personnel? Create a new department? We need to know.

Stagnant website
A stagnant website also known as a brochure website can be detected by the search engines instantaneously. If a website hasn’t be updated in ages, it’s difficult for the search engines to determine if your business is active or out-of-business.

Website visitors will get the impression that the business is dated and possibly inactive. In today’s instant information and gratification world that is the last thing you want  your website to portray.

It used to be that a website that was well designed and had the right phone numbers and product information was the standard. It isn’t any more. If you aren’t on social media you are behind. If your site doesn’t provide really good video, you are behind, etc. If your business wants to be first rate, start funneling information to your web manager and watch your site, the place where your business sells what you have to offer, come alive.

Author: Cathy Derechailo, SEO Copy Writer

The importance of full disclosure

Sounds important and a bit legal doesn’t it? Well, it is important but it has nothing to do with legalities. It has to do with providing all the information you possibly can to the manager of your website.

You may say “but I do provide them with information about our company”. That may be true, but do you provide all the information necessary. This article is meant to point out that there can be the “sin” of omission.

Author: Cathy Derechailo, SEO Copy Writer

A complete website

Because we are in an era where our electronic information can make or break us, understanding what makes a complete website is more important than ever. Complete means several things.

If you sell a product, the importance of providing a full description of each product including a picture, specs, etc. is essential. You may think that is a no brainer, but you would be surprised at how many big companies fail to provide one aspect of the needed information. In some cases it delays or prevents the product page from being completed in a timely fashion, in which case it can’t be posted on the site.

Author: Cathy Derechailo, SEO Copy Writer