Web accessibility – how websites are created to accommodate disabled people – is changing how companies like Rushminute create websites. We asked Robbie Moore, Rushminute’s founder, to answer a few questions about how web accessibility design.

How long have you been involved in developing accessible websites? 

I’d say 2 years. My most recent project was a website redesign for a disability organization on Cape Cod – Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD). It was a fun project where I was the creative director and worked with the team at 3 Media Web to create an integrated marketing plan that included a web makeover, a new logo, new brand messaging, digital marketing, etc. All with an eye on making it inclusive.

What was your first introduction to web accessibility?

My first project accessibility project was a web makeover for 3Play Media in 2017. It makes sense they’d be one of my first projects, too, because they provide closed captions and transcriptions. They’re entire business model essentially a web accessibility service. 

Was it a steep learning curve?

Not really. You know, designers are really just problem solvers, so it was simply an adjustment to more extreme color contrast. I’m oversimplifying, obviously. I do remember being overwhelmed by the initial audit, but it really wasn’t that big of an adjustment because – thankfully – 3Play Media had hired an accessibility consultant from WebAIM.

So the main change was color contrast?

I think so. I used to do “softer” color effects. I commonly used a soft grey for the body copy because to me it looked elegant. I would also do things like use a dark shade of blue for the footer and then make the text links a light blue. That looks awesome to me, but it’s unreadable for a person who’s color blind. 

Were there other changes you had to make to your designs?

I think the other big challenge was buttons. I used to always present designs with buttons labeled “Read More” or “Click Here”. That’s hopelessly unhelpful for people with screen readers. They need the button to help them understand the “intent”. Now I do my designs with longer titles like “Download Website Accessibility Whitepaper” or “Schedule a Meeting”. 

Does that clutter up the design?

Well, yeah, but like most designers, it didn’t take me long to realize I was being discriminatory out of ignorance. What struck me was fact that 20% of the population has some form of disability when using the web. Their impairments may be visual, hearing, physical or cognitive and it wasn’t until I heard that stat that it really struck me: this is a huge, huge deal.

Are there other challenges beyond the design?

I guess I’d have to say that it wasn’t really hard to adjust my designs. I don’t want that to sound cocky, but there aren’t that many rules for clean, modern web design that I don’t follow. Actually, web design isn’t all that creative when you think about it. We’re catering to a baked in set of expectations on the part of users. Once I start to design outside of those boundaries, my design simply isn’t going to be effective.

  That said, the biggest challenge right now is the fact that businesses aren’t implementing web accessibility quickly enough. It’s expensive, but I think long-term, businesses will recoup the investment because they will be reaching 20% more of their market if their websites are accessible.

How has what you’ve learned about accessibility changed the way you approach future web design projects? 

What it showed me was there is a very interesting side effect to web accessibility design: websites are “strong and clear”. What I mean by that is there’s not really any softness or elegance or finesse. The flip side is clarity and power. Web accessibility is limiting in the sense is limits the elegance of a website, but that’s not entirely bad. It’s just less range of expression, I guess you could say. 

Where do you see web accessibility design going in the future?

Eventually all websites are going to look even more similar than they do now. I think we’ll see the economic power of the 20% force website designs to be more clear and powerful. And, I predict at some point we’ll see a similar innovation for web accessibility design that we saw with responsive web design. There’ll be some way to create graceful and elegant websites that automatically adapt to strong and clear websites for people with disabilities.

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ABOUT RUSHMINUTE

Rushminute is a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. If your company – large or small – needs help making your website accessible, call us at 402.937.9872 or send us an email. We love talking websites! 

In the online age, your website essentially acts as your business card, your opportunity to present your business to the public. For almost all businesses nowadays, the first place your clients will find you is by through your website, which gives them all of the information they need about your business. In the not so recent past, an appealing web page was considered to be optional. However, today’s business climate mandates that businesses have a website that is attractive, functional and 100% up-to-date.

These days, growth-driven web design (GDD) is proving to be an increasingly popular option over more traditional approaches to web design. GDD is a more practical option for web design allowing businesses to have a website that can easily be modified to adapt to changing needs. Ultimately, GDD promises web designers and businesses a cost-effective, efficient way to build their website and maintain them to ensure that they keep up with popular trends, changes in the market and best practices.

Continue reading to learn more about GDD and what you need to know to implement this model for your business.

What Is GDD Exactly?

GDD is a method of building and maintaining websites, which allows them to be fluid as the demands for business change. Through adopting a GDD website, businesses elect to modify the website on a continuous basis, as opposed to being overhauled every few years when the company needs to adapt to changing business interests, trends and developments in the marketplace. And, because the process of building a growth-driven website requires consistent updates, the risk of designing a website that does not produce results is reduced as both design elements and functionality can be fine-tuned as the site is developed.

What’s Involved In Implementing A Growth-Driven Design?

The model is broken up into three main stages. First of all, a strategy is put in place by analysing your current website and how your current visitors interact with your site. Armed with this information, you can set realistic goals and prioritise which areas of your website need to be developed first and where the web designers energies should be put.

Once you have a game plan in place, development can start and your website will begin to take shape. Unlike a traditional design process, where your website will not be launched until it is complete, the growth-driven approach means your website is always evolving and therefore never considered to be fully complete. In the second stage, a ‘launchpad is built’ which, to the user, is a fully operational website but for the business owner, this is just the beginning. The ‘launchpad’ acts as the foundation for your website to grow and evolve from.

The third stage in implementing a growth-driven design is continuous improvement. This is the stage your website will remain in for the rest of the time it exists online. Data about user interactions will be collected so that your designer can make improvements to your website in the right areas. With constant improvements, you can ensure that your site delivers the best possible user experience, is always ahead of the curve, up-to-date with the latest trends and gives you the best possible return on your investment.

What Are The Benefits Of Using The GDD Model?

Among its cost-effective benefits, the GDD model allows businesses to track customer behaviour and make modifications routinely, as opposed to waiting to completely change the site. This makes it much more efficient than traditional web design models because the site is routinely maintained and modified and changes are made incrementally. Also, the sites are generally created much quicker than traditional websites allowing you to get your website online quickly without compromising on quality.

For marketing and public relations purposes, there are a few other benefits as well. Through the design process, each decision is influenced through data analysis and test results that occur through several iterations. In addition, marketing and sales tactics are continuously revised to increase conversion rates by enhancing key elements on the site such as CTAs and Landing Pages.

GDD Essentials

In a business landscape that increasingly relies on the virtual terrain for business, designers and businesses, alike, are having to create ways to maximise their online presence in this global economy. One of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to do this is with a growth-driven website design. GDD allows businesses to easily modify their website on a routine basis to adapt to the needs of their changing client base and find new opportunities in the process. In a business world that is always changing, it’s crucial that you remain adaptable and GDD allows you to do just that.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

3 Click Rule

Now I’m not gonna lie to you: your site visitors aren’t going to leave your site after three clicks.

We’re talking about a magic number of clicks before ‘user fatigue’ starts to set in.

User fatigue?

Yes. Site visitors are that impatient. If they don’t quickly and easily find what they’re looking for they will click away from your site.

So the goal when organizing your site – during the site map phase – is to make  the maximum amount of information available in the minimum amount of clicks.

Bonus Rule Bender

While the Rule of Three Clicks is simple, here’s the twist: to have a good hunt, you must create tempting content!

Smelling Finding Nemo GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Why the twist?

It’s OK to have users click more than three times as long as your content takes them on a journey. As they hunt for information, they will follow content scented with confidence, the right word, or a great image.

And that means a website must make users feel like they’re the center attention.

Don’t worry about a shark not biting – he’ll bite if the bait has his name written all over it.

It’s a bit like setting a trap for a hungry shark: bait him, feed him to your final goal and he will follow you without even realizing it.

So focus on two things:

  1. a slim, shallow site map where users don’t have to guess at what a page is about
  2. tempting content sprinkled along the path to where you and your users meet

That’s it. Focusing on a short path to tantalizing content is the secret to the Rule of Three Clicks (plus a Bonus Rule Bender).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Website Redesign

A successful digital marketing strategy is centered around an awesome website.

That’s because your website is where most of your customers form their first impressions about your business. A well-designed website strengthens your brand and elevates your business, while an outdated site inhibits your growth.

True, redesigning your website is a big investment, but when done right, it’s well worth it over the long haul. The additional business generated from a new, easy-to-use website should easily recoup your the money you spend on it.

So how can you tell when it’s time for a redesign? Here’s your checklist of four of the the most obvious signs your website is outdated and needs a refresh.

1. Not Mobile Friendly

Back in 2007, Apple released the iPhone and it changed the way websites are viewed and created. In 2017, 51% of web searches were performed on mobile devices. Yup, that’s right. Mobile search is officially more common than desktop search.

That means making your website “mobile friendly” is now non-negotiable. Search engines use mobile functionality as a factor in their ranking algorithm and ignoring mobile optimization will result in lower search rankings. That translates to fewer prospects and lower sales.

The good news is it’s not hard to convert your mobile unfriendly website a mobile friendly one. Whether your choose to have a custom designed site or buy a pre-made WordPress theme, all new sites come with mobile functionality baked into the design.

How to check if your site is mobile friendly: Does your website require you to “pinch and zoom” to view your site’s web page on a mobile phone? Do some of your pages have strange line breaks or pictures that appear out of position? If so, your site isn’t mobile friendly and needs a makeover.

2. Slow Site

Nothing’s more annoying than a slow website. It doesn’t matter how awesome your site looks – nobody’s going to wait around to wait for it if it takes forever to load.

Faster is better.

If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, you have a slow site. In fact, Google has found that 53% of mobile users will leave your page doesn’t load in three seconds. That means more than half of your site visitors will leave your site and click on your competitor’s website if your pages are slow.

Slow websites typically have a combination of bad coding, large file sizes, too many server requests and wimpy site hosting. Sure, you can speed up your site without doing a website makeover, but it’s a common sign of a neglected site that’s in need of an overall upgrade.

3. High Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit your website and click away instead of clicking to any other page on your site. Generally, a high bounce rate is considered a sign that your site is either not easy to use or doesn’t have good content.

A high bounce rate – above 50% – is a problem because they you’re losing half of your site traffic within seconds. They may be so uninterested in your site they’re not bothering to click around and are off clicking elsewhere on the web.

What’s the solution? A good first impression is crucial to increasing your user engagement and improving your bounce rate. Your site’s design and content need to captivate your audience long enough so they start to look around and genuinely consider you as a solution to their need.

4. Stale Design

Site visitors will rate your business within the first few seconds of landing on your site, so make sure yours doesn’t look like it’s from the 1990s.

Unless you’re wanting to attract people who are into that vibe. 😉

Here’s a quick test:

  1. Jot down with a few words you’d like people to associate with your company (clean, modern, engaging, easy-to-use).
  2. Now look at your website. Write down the words you think your prospects would use to describe your site (frumpy, cluttered).
  3. Next, ask yourself, does your site’s design look clean and easy-to-use or frumpy and cluttered?

That same test is what site visitors are doing within seconds of landing on your site.

All you need to do is ask yourself what you think the impact of your current design is, compared to what a new design might be?

Is it Time for a Website Redesign?

If you were nodding your head as you read these four signs, you know it’s time.

But fear not, you’re not alone. Many small business owners will admit their site needs a facelift – they’re just reluctant to commit to a makeover because of the cost. The good news is you likely don’t have to fear a redesign. Upgrading the style and speed of a website is much more easy and less expensive these days, especially if you’re on (or willing to switch to) an easy-to-use and popular platform like WordPress.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.

Web Design Principles

Websites that aren’t well designed don’t just look bad. The don’t work on a number of different levels. They don’t rank high in Google search results and do they score well in Google Analytics (for example, high bounce rates, short site visits, low conversions, etc.). So, what does a good web design do? Let me share 10 principles of web design that’ll make your site aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, attractive and effective:

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” –Milton Glazer

1. Purpose

Let me ask you a question: are your users looking for information, entertainment or some kind of interaction?

The answer only comes from knowing the needs of your site visitors. Each web page needs a clear purpose in order to efficiently satisfy a user’s specific need. If you don’t know your users needs – ask them! Call them up, talk with them. send out an anonymous survey, ask folks for feedback on your social media channels.

2. Communication

Folks on the web want information quickly, so it’s important to communicate clearly and make the information easy to read. Examples of effective tactics are:

  • break text up with subtitles
  • keep paragraphs short (20-words – about three 3 lines)
  • bulleted lists
  • emphasize words in bold

3. Typography

There’s a ton to know about typography to become a real master, but Sans Serif fonts (clean fonts without decorative finishes) are best for websites because they’re easier to read on electronic screens. Google Fonts is a great source of sans serif fonts for your website – and best of all, they’re free!

As for the ideal font size, most experts will start at 16px and increase or decrease the point size slightly depending on the exact shapes and proportions of the individual letters. Note: the size will likely decrease by one or two pixels for tablets and mobile phones because we typically hold those devices closer to our eyes.

4. Colors

Color is one of the easiest ways to quickly improve a website’s user experience by establishing a mood. Whether you want to create a calm site with soft, complementary colors or shock visitors with vibrant colors, a well thought out color palette is critical to evoking an emotional response in your visitors.

Pro Tip: specify one contrasting color in your color palette to be used specifically for buttons or calls to action to make it stand out.

5. Images

People remember 80 percent of what they see and only 20 percent of what they read, so choosing the right images for your website is key to making a memorable website.

If you’re like most website owners, you don’t have a massive budget for custom photos. That’s why God invented stock photo websites like Shutterstock (about $2/photo) and Pexels (free). 😉

Also consider creating infographics, videos and charts, since these are way more effective ways to communicate than even a well-written 1000+ word essay.

Pro Tip: images must be optimized before uploading to the web to reduce loading time.

6. Navigation

Navigation refers to how site visitors move from page to page on your website. In order to understand navigation, you need to have a clear understanding of how your pages are organized. A nice tool to organize your pages is SlickPlan; it helps you create a site map of your website, much like an organizational chart. A site map let’s you order pages, give them logical titles and follow the “Rule of Three Clicks“, which means site visitors will be able to find the information they seek in three clicks or less.

7. White space

Good content (images and text) is important, but don’t forget that the lack of content (or visual clutter) is almost as important. Blank space – otherwise know as white space – gives websites “breathing room” and an appearance of order and emphasis.

8. Grids

Grid-based layouts organize content into sections, columns and tables that line up and feel balanced. Following a grid approach also makes it easier to create pages and ensure your content flows in a way that helps Google index your site properly.

9. Load time

Nobody likes a slow website. As a matter of fact, every second it takes your page to load reduces the chances a visitor will stay on your site by about 5%. The trick is to optimize your images (size and scale), combine code in a CSS or JavaScript file (this reduces HTTP requests) and minimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (compressed to speed up the loading time) help to reduce the load time of a web page. It can get a bit technical, but there are several WordPress plugins to help you optimize your site with just a few clicks (Smush for image compression and WP Fastest Cache for code compression and cacheing).

10. Responsive design

Nowadays sites are viewed by devices with several screen sizes, so it is important to make your website is responsive – meaning it automatically adjusts to different screen widths. If your website is not mobile friendly, the easiest solution is to update your theme.

Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed these principles for designing an effective website. And if you need help implementing them, contact us – we’re happy to help customize your site so it’s more attractive, useful and memorable for your visitors.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robbie Moore is the founder of Rushminute, a digital marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing, Robbie has worked with dozens of companies and organizations, large and small, around the globe. He also writes extensively about design, development, and business in general.