How to Comply with Web Accessibility Requirements

Since 23rd September 2020, all websites created before 23 September 2018, need to comply with accessibility requirements (Equality Act 2010). All public sector organisations, local governments, charities are legally required to make their websites accessible for people of all abilities. A website that satisfies more visitors is good practice for commercial websites too, showing due care and consideration builds respect among your current and prospect clients. Respect leads to loyalty.

What Does Web Accessibility Mean and How Do Organisations Comply?

Web accessibility focuses on making digital services accessible to individuals with visual, hearing, mobility and cognitive impairments. Comprehensive and globally-recognised standards are available; they are known as the W3C Standards of Accessibility.

As an example, someone with impaired vision might use a screen reader (software that lets a user navigate a website and ‘reads out’ the content). It doesn’t mean that websites need to have text size or background adjustments options built-in. It means that the structure of a website and elements (pictures, text, documents etc) need to meet accessibility requirements.

The W3C Standards focus on what is required to make your website content perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

The standards include:

  • Ensuring every feature is useable if the text size is increased to 200%
  • Using website code that is readable by assisted technologies
  • Providing transcripts for audio and visual media
  • Written content is in plain English – avoiding acronyms and abbreviations
  • Using clear labels, contrasting colours and intuitive navigation

Ideally, a commitment to these standards should be part of every website build project. For now, it is only a legal requirement for government organisations and charities.

Good Practice

With a focus on good practice, our websites are built to comply with basic W3C Standards. We run accessibility tests before publishing. This is as a standard procedure, along with testing for broken links, website loading speed and compatibility with various web browsers and screen sizes.

To maintain compliance, there are a few tips that we can offer website administrators.

Accessibility Tips for Website Admins 

  1. With every new media file that you publish, remember to add a meaningful Title and Alt text, as well as a simple description of what it is in the picture, video, graphic or document (attachment 1)
  2. If possible, avoid publishing Word documents and pdfs – if you must publish .docx or .pdf then make sure the file is accessible. Microsoft Word has accessibility testing built-in – run it and follow automated prompts before saving and uploading to the website. (attachment 2)
  3. Publish an Accessibility Statement on your website.

Accessibility Statement Page

When writing an Accessibility Statement, it is important to show awareness of the requirements, to evidence improvements made and to provide a contact where any accessibility issues can be reported. Our suggested layout would be:

  1. An Introduction to using the website
  2. The date of accessibility testing
  3. The method or tools used
  4. Your commitment – what you have done and are planning to do
  5. Contact – how to report accessibility issues

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools

WAVE is a suite of evaluation tools that helps authors make their web content more accessible to individuals with impairments.

Accessibility Insights is a tool to review your existing website. This will list issues which you can work to address. You may not have the resources to resolve every issue immediately. To comply with the legal requirements, you need to acknowledge the issues, take reasonable steps to improve the site and list planned actions.

Take Action to Improve Website Accessibility

Rather than seeing this as another task, we advise that you view it as an opportunity to extend your reach. Improving website accessibility will help you to engage with more people and that has got to be good for business.

Examples of Accessibility Statement

http://www.haltonvillagenews.co.uk/accessibility
https://schooltravelplanning.com/accesibility

Attachment 1 – Showing the Alt text, Title and Description boxes that explain what is in the image

WP media meta data

 

Attachment 2 – Showing the Check Accessibility option for Word documents.

MS Word accessibility tool

We can help with Web Accessibility compliance. Contact office@frameworkdigital.co.uk

Web Accessibility:

Building Better Websites

 

When it comes to website design, many clients focus on appearance. They are concerned about getting the right colour and font or the best images. Looks are important, but in this article, we explore an equally vital element; website accessibility.

 

Website Accessibility

There are many different aspects to website accessibility. In the web design process, it is important to consider:

  • How your web pages appear on a range of devices
  • Whether the navigation is intuitive
  • What could prevent someone from accessing information
  • How easy it is for the company to update the content

 

 

Mobile Responsive Websites

An increasing number of people are accessing information on the go. It is now standard practice that any website should automatically adjust to fit the visitor’s screen size. Avoid making your visitors zoom in and out in order to read your content or click a button. Consideration should also be given to actions – is it possible to use a keyboard, a mouse, a stylus or a finger to take actions? If your site is not mobile responsive, it is time for an upgrade.

 

Easy Loading Content

It is also vital that web pages can be accessed without visitors having to wait. If the loading speed is more than a couple of seconds, there is a risk of losing business. There are ways in which loading speed can be reduced. Speak to a website designer if this is an issue you are facing.

 

Compatible Content

Non-compatible content (yes, we still find websites which include Flash elements) simply won’t be read. This is rarely an issue with new websites, but just ensure that all content is accessible on all devices.

 

Intuitive Navigation

It may be tempting to go for some quirky design, which really showcases the innovative, dynamic style of your business, but we strongly advise that you avoid messing with the navigation. Users prioritise convenience. They want to move around your site with ease. It should be a logical process, requiring a minimal number of clicks to reach any piece of information.

On each page, break up the text with sub-headings. These enable people to locate the information that is most relevant to them. Use icons and links to direct visitors to alternative pages.

 

Removing Barriers

Some of your customers will have more difficulty in gathering information and taking actions online. Some may be unfamiliar with your industry, others lack digital knowhow, and some will have disabilities. It is important to see your website design from their perspective.

Writing in plain English (with translate options if you are targeting international markets or non-native speakers) is important. In addition:

  • Remove or explain any complex terms
  • Keep sentences short
  • Clearly explain what actions people can take
  • Limit forms or other information requests so they only capture essential information
  • If your target audience are likely to be less tech savvy, be sure to explain processes with clarity

 

Website Access for All Abilities

The internet was set up to provide the opportunity to access written, visual and audio information. It should be accessible to all.  – World Wide Web Consortium (W3.org).

As part of the Website Accessibility Initiative (WAI), W3.org provide clear guidelines for website designers to put in place measures to ensure accessibility. The advice includes ensuring contrast between the tone and colour of text and backgrounds, enabling text size increases and ensuring that no animated elements flash more than 3 times per second.

Video content is a very popular means of sharing information. For many, it can be far more accessible that a page of written text. Having said this, including a written transcript is useful. It will ensure that those with limited visual or audio abilities do not miss out.

Any website designer or client can access the W3.org WAI guidelines. These are good practice for every web design project.

Usability Testing

The best way to ensure that your website design is accessible, is to invite a sample of your target audience to undertake usability testing. This can take place in the website development stages. Ask them to complete a range of tasks. In addition, invite them to generally browse the site. Then gather their feedback and be willing to adapt the design based on their comments.

Accessibility for Updates

The final point for consideration is how easy it is for the designated members of your team to access your website to make updates, amends and additions to the content. In order to keep the website fresh and relevant, you need a straightforward Content Management System (CMS), rather than a technical qualification.

Website Accessibility in Summary

Good website design is more than a pleasing layout and stunning images. In addition to making a great first impression, it should be functional and easy for all to use. The W3.org guidelines are good practice for all web design projects. They should be a priority if you are serving a client group with specific needs.

 

Find the article about website accessibility compliance

A Current Website Redesign Project

CLIENT:

Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust

THE BRIEF:

Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust is keen to bolster the number of members, volunteers, event attendees and trustees. They are particularly keen to encourage younger people to get involved with their organisation. In addition, they want to increase donations and sponsorship of research projects. These research projects help to protect our county’s parks and gardens.

The board identified that a website redesign would be essential for attracting interest, building awareness and encouraging supporters. They approached a number of local web design companies for a quote and Framework Digital made the cut.

THE CHALLENGE:

Like many organisations, Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust has evolved continuously since it was founded. The current website is full of content; both current and historic. Every document has value to the organisation and to specific groups of people. Having said this, the scale of content was impeding navigation and our challenge was to resolve this.

The aim was for a clean, fresh design that would resonate with visitors. The team recognised that the process of planning for the website development would involve them making collective decisions about what content their website visitors really wanted. Such decisions have resulted in detailed discussions about what must stay and what is no longer relevant.

The organisation also required simple ways in which content could be regularly added. This had to be achieved without compromising the intuitive navigation.

In addition, there was an issue with Google Maps. It currently showed the property of one of the Board and they wanted this to be changed. An overly complex set up of emails also needed attention.

THE SOLUTION:

Framework Digital began the process of redesigning the Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust website by clarifying the logo and branding. The new design would be used on the website, newsletters, research reports and membership forms. The aim is to give consistency to all marketing.

We worked with a core team to agree on what content had to be included in the main menu. We explored a range of options on how other information could be accessible, such as links in the footer and a ‘members-only’ section. Some were embraced, whilst others were ruled out. We have only presented ideas which will be straightforward for the organisation to manage and update.

Our website design included categorisation options. This would help organise all new articles and information that would be posted and act as a filter for visitors. We also added breadcrumbs to each sub-page. This would help visitors identify where they were and to make it easier to get back to previous pages.

Clear call to actions were added to every page to encourage the desired outcomes. Our aim was to set these up in such a way as to reduce manual processes, therefore reducing the work currently being undertaken by the team.

We were able to resolve the Google Maps and email issues.

INITIAL FEEDBACK:

We arranged a planning meeting, in which our preliminary vision for the website was shared. Following this, we received this feedback:

“Thank you so very much for presenting the initial draft of the new Bucks Gardens Trust website today; it is excellent, clear and will be easy to navigate. Thank you for all the thought you have given, and are giving, to its design and construction.”

Rosemary, Bucks Garden Trust 

 

When it comes to website design, there are some core essentials that apply no matter what your industry. Whether you are updating your online presence or starting afresh, you need to ensure that the following boxes are ticked.

  • Your website pages can be found online
  • Accessing the content on your website is intuitive
  • There is sufficient differentiation between your brand and the competition

This article explains how these three points can be achieved by your web design company. Let’s begin with the search.

How do customers find what they want?

In the vast majority of cases, customers will search online to find the products and services they want. Within a split second of any request being made, the search engines have to compile a list of the most relevant web pages. Their reputation depends on providing quality results that answer the search criteria.

Let’s be clear; no matter what the search phrase, your web page is immediately up against a vast number of contenders. To stand any chance of being found online, your website has to help the search engines to see that it is a quality site. As a core requirement, you need:

  • Unique and well-defined content (plenty of opportunities to show the correlation between your offer and the search term)
  • Mobile responsive or mobile-first web design
  • Fast Loading Pages
  • An SSL Certificate if you are requesting any information from visitors

The search engines keep a score of your website, it knows if a web page is regularly updated, visited and referred to online.

There are more than 100 factors that are calculated by the search engines to determine the correlation between a search query and the results displayed. It all happens in the split of second and 3.5 billion per day worldwide. Over time, your web pages will gain the authority, necessary to move up the ranks.

Please note, if you have an existing domain name, stick with it. The length of time that you have had an active website domain counts in your favour.

What are your Customers Looking For?

When it comes to website design, it doesn’t really matter whether you offer an exclusive range of luxury products or a vast selection of essential services. The top priority is providing a positive customer experience. At a basic level, your web pages should:

  • Be accessible on their device of choice
  • Be quick to load
  • Communicate what you offer at first glance (no matter which page they land on)
  • Be intuitive to navigate

As a business, you need to have a clear idea of what your customers want. What are their priorities? How can you meet their expectations? On this point, consider the company values as well as what you sell. The customer’s priorities could be finding a local company who actively supports the community, a business with strong eco-credentials or a company who has achieved a specific standard/membership.
Also, consider how your website content can be of value to them. Can you provide practical advice, inspiration, case studies or other useful information?

Maybe view your website as a Customer Service Representative, rather than as a Salesman. Prospect clients would certainly appreciate that approach and it may be in keeping with the style of your organisation.

How to Differentiate your Website from the Competition

If you are planning a new website design, it is useful to check out your online competition. This is not to copy what they are doing. Your goal should be to see what your brand is up against and ensure that your web pages are strong enough to compete. Can you spot gaps and offer anything that the competition is missing?

When it comes to standing apart, your website essentials are to:

  • Use unique branding and content (original copy and custom photos)
  • Be personable, with the aim of connecting with the customer
  • Focus on the positive outcomes of using your products and services
  • Ensure that your website has a straightforward CRM, so you can quickly add fresh content with confidence.

Yes, it will cost more to engage a professional photographer or copywriter, but original, quality content will reap rewards.

Website Essentials in Summary

In 2020, every business needs to be found online. As the competition has never been higher, you can not afford to cut corners or promote anything other than your brand at its best. To deliver a quality experience, your website design must:

  • Meet the core requirements of the search engines
  • Be easy for customers to access, navigate and identify with
  • Accurately reflect your brand
  • Be original
  • Be regularly updated

If your website can be found and if it offers a great customer experience, it can be your strongest sales tool. For further information or to request a meeting to discuss your website project please call 01296 320820 or email office@frameworkdigital.co.uk

 

Making your website mobile-friendly is no longer optional, priortising design for mobile devices is the next step.

SSL Certificate for Small Business Website

If you have a business website, you may have heard the phrase SSL Certificate, but what is it and is it something that you require?

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL Certificate is a means of proving to your customers that your website is secure.

Have you spotted the padlock icon that is visible in the URL bar when you open up a website. Maybe you’ve noticed the ‘https:’ that appears at the start of the website URL? These are the visible icons that indicate that an SSL certificate has been issued and installed. They tell visitors that this is a safe site to browse and help to establish trust in your brand.

In 2018, the ‘not secure’ message was added to all sites without an SSL Certificate. This is more visible than the padlock. The aim is to communicate that any information shared on this website is not encrypted and could be intercepted. Seeing the ‘not secure’ message does prevent some people from clicking onto a website. If you are reliant on generating leads through your website, then removing this potential sticking point is worthwhile.

Does Every Business Website Need an SSL Certificate?

If you walked up to a stranger and asked for their home address or bank details, they may be a little reticent about giving you this information. It is no different online.

Are you inviting visitors to sign up to a newsletter, make online purchases or complete an enquiry form? If you request any information on your website, then you need to show that you can be trusted to keep that information private. As such, an SSL Certificate is strongly advised. It indicates that your site is low risk and trustworthy. It is also one of many factors affecting the position of web pages in the listings. We’ll come back to that.

If your web pages do not include features that require visitors to provide information, an SSL Certificate is not vital, although it is good practice.

How does an SSL Certificate Affect Google Rankings?

Google rankings are determined by a great number of factors. Very few people know the algorithm, but we can be certain that it aims to provide the best results for every search. From the browser’s perspective, a secure site is favourable to a ‘not secure’ site. As such, this influences Google rankings. Take a look for yourself: the top listings for any search are typically ‘https:’ websites.’

How much does an SSL Certificate Cost?

Before you can make an informed decision, you need to know the cost of an SSL Certificate. There is not a single answer, as there are four different options and costs can be as little as a few pounds or up to around £500. It depends on the option you select and if you pay for installation services. The options are:

Domain Validated (DV SSL Certificate)

This basic level simply involves a check to ensure that the applicant has the right to use a specific domain name. It’s quick to process and involves minimal paperwork and can cost around £5 per year.

Organisational Validated (OV SSL Certificate)

Framework Digital would advise most SMEs to purchase this level. It involves some level of vetting, to prove that the business is legitimate. Some paperwork is required, but the process isn’t overly complicated. We can support the application, installation and configuration of the SSL Certificate when issued, and notify Google, for £120 per year. Contact Framework Digital if you would like further information.

Extended Validation (EV SSL Certificate)

The full package is ideal for e-commerce sites and businesses where client confidence and privacy is a priority. It includes checks on the exclusive right of the applicant to use the domain name, as well as thorough vetting of the organisation. The checks follow clearly defined guidelines to check that the business exists legally, physically and operationally and this information is audited on an annual basis. In addition to the padlock, EV SSL includes a green bar in the URL tab to indicate enhanced levels of security. Expect to pay around £500 a year for an EV SSL Certificate.

Wildcard SSL Certificates

These are a variation on DV SSL/OV/EV SSL, as one certificate covers the main domain and subdomains with a single application. It is a more cost-effective option for national chains, global brand and franchises, but pricing varies depending on the nature of the business.

SSL Certificate Renewal

An SSL certificate requires annual renewal. If a web design company or digital agency has been involved in the purchase and installation of the SSL Certificate, they should inform you when this is due to expire. You may want to keep your own records too.

Points for Consideration

Some agencies offer a free or low-cost SSL Certificate as part of the website design project. If this is something that you have been offered please check:
• That they are offering the SSL security level that is appropriate to your business
• What the SSL renewal fee will be
• Whether you are tied into them providing your SSL Renewal

When the SSL Certificate is installed and Google will re-index the website. This can temporarily affect the position of your web pages in the listings, but they will bounce back up.

Our Five-point Summary

  1. SSL certificates help to build trust in the digital world.
  2. If your business is serious about privacy, data protection and being a trusted brand, then they are highly recommended.
  3. There are different types of SSL Certificates, so ensure that you get the right level for your online operations.
  4. SSL Certificates are renewed annually, so this is not one one-off payment.
  5. Secure websites are viewed favourably by Google and are therefore more likely to be in the top listings.

DIY website is an option but not everyone who can write is a novelist.

This article is about our web design and development process that we suggest to follow when rethinking a web design project.