In a world where equality of access was often seen as a ‘nice idea’ but a bit of an inconvenience, making websites accessible to all, largely flew under the radar.
Now, as the world pushes for greater equality (and rightly so), provision for those with disabilities and conditions which restrict access has become more ‘mainstream’ and catered for.
As web designers, we have become more mindful and considerate of how accessible our websites are to those that may struggle with the way content is presented currently. Currently, there are over 11million people in the UK with complete or partial hearing loss and 2 million people living with sight loss.
Our websites embody well thought out design and planning which actually provides significant accessibility to many of those who may struggle to access websites normally but there is always opportunity for improvement.
If you are looking to build a website that has accessibility at the core, here are some things to consider.
Common disabilities that web designs have begun to pay special attention to are:
Here are a few things that can help people harness the advances in technology to offer greater opportunities for those with disabilities to access websites:
1. Is Your Website Keyboard-Friendly - making sure your website can be accessed and navigated without a mouse, using only a keyboard, is really important.
2. Label your images with Alt Text - this enables a screen reader to tell the user what the image is of - the more detail the better.
3. Using headers consistently - this will help structure the sight and improve the readability and navigation. Only using one H1 Per page is important (and good practice anyway for SEO).
4. Enable resizable text - we all love a good laugh at that one family member that uses massive text on their phone (if you don’t have one, it is probably you). Building a site to take advantage of this feature from the beginning is vital to ensure it doesn’t cause further issues with your site.
5. Be mindful of the use of video - Video can be a great way of communicating but if it is set to auto-play, it can be very difficult to turn off for those using a screen reader. If you are using video, providing closed captions (subtitles) can ensure those with hearing impairments can still engage.
6. Accessible Forms - label each field correctly and place the labels in convenient locations. Ensuring the fields are of generous size, especially radio buttons and checkboxes so they can be easily clicked.
7. Colour choice - there are certain colours and colour combinations that are harder for those who are colourblind to distinguish. Some unsuitable combinations are Green & Black, Green & Grey, Blue & Grey, Light Green & Yellow, Green & Blue, Blue & Purple, Green & Brown, and Green & Red.
Intelligent and considerate colour choices can minimise this impact, making a site monochrome can help make it more accessible. Also enabling a ‘dark mode’ option can be a useful option for those who find the glare from a screen uncomfortable.
While this is not a comprehensive list of challenges and solutions, we continue to strive to ensure all our websites are built by combining intelligent design, greater accessibility and lead generation at the forefront. Accessibility should not be an afterthought or something that is just a nice idea, instead, it should be at the forefront of all good design practice.
Building a website can be daunting, especially if you’re trying to do it yourself. Companies like Wix make everything simple, requiring no experience in web design in order to build a website in your free time. Sounds perfect!
Well… it is perfect until every waking hour that you’re not in work is spent:
-planning your website’s sitemap
-working out why you can’t get a bit of text to go where you want it
-asking your other half what they think of a font pairing (anyone else hate having to give their opinion on something they don’t care about?)
Goodbye evenings, weekends and holidays. That is before you’ve even thought about the copy you want to have on each page and the images you are going to include.
Using Wix (or any other DIY website builder) may be the perfect recipe for a divorce and if that isn’t enough, here are 5 more reasons why you should NOT use Wix!
Wix has over 90 MILLION users and only 500 templates. The likelihood is your website will end up looking just like someone else's, maybe even your competitors. In order to stand out, your website needs to have a unique design that clearly communicates your brand.
A successful website is always being optimised. As with any other part of your business, you must constantly be improving it. With a Wix website, you don’t have the freedom to use A/B testing and user flow testing, and therefore you may struggle to improve things like the engagement rate. The result is that your website won’t grow or evolve.
If you create your website with Wix, you won’t own it. Wix does. If they decide to take down their platform or remove certain features, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re essentially just a subscriber to their platform to which your licence is revocable. As a business owner, you should never be that dependent on an external company.
If there’s something on your website that isn’t working, or you can’t figure out how to add a certain feature, you’ll struggle to find someone to help. Need a new feature or something custom built, time to enrol in university to get yourself a degree in programming.
No Way Out
Finally, there’s no way out. There’s currently no way to export your data to another platform so if you decide you want to add some new features to it that aren’t supported by Wix or decide you want a complete refresh, you can’t. You’ll end up having to completely rebuild your entire website from scratch- and that’s no fun.
Finally, as your business grows and you require more features for your website, you can expect your monthly subscription to increase as the premium features incur a premium price tag.
What about SEO?
Even if you do manage to build a decent looking website, has it been optimised for SEO so it gets found on Google? Is it designed and built to generate leads or is it just pulled together randomly?
Building a website is a bit like building a house- it is incredibly personal and requires a team of professionals with specific skills to get exactly what you want.
You wouldn’t try to build a house by yourself so why try it with your website?
Getting it wrong could be very expensive. How many leads might you miss out on because your site isn’t built to convert leads - getting a professional website built might actually save you money!
Web designers (like us) can help you create a website that is unique to your business, fully optimised and completely yours - and even after it’s complete, we’ll still be around to support you and make any changes as your business grows and develops.
So make a smart decision - use SMK and stay married!
All businesses will need an accountant at some stage and choosing an accountant is an incredibly personal thing. It is therefore important that your accountancy firm’s website engages visitors, is up to date and educates users so that any visitor will have all the evidence they need to choose you as their accountant.
But how do you make sure your website stands out and attracts new clients rather than repels them?
Here are 3 plug-ins (pieces of software built into your website) that could transform your website and your visitors’ experience!
Having an appointment scheduling software enables potential clients and current clients to find a time for an appointment that suits both you and them. Bookings can be arranged when the client is free during time slots you designate in advance. Many also offer automatic reminders via email or messages which reduces no-shows.
Many of these booking systems integrate with video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which reduces the need to meet in person - saving time for both parties.
2. Tax calculators
There are a wide range of tax calculators that can be integrated into an accountant’s website that can be useful tools for clients.
There are plenty of other tax calculators out there or a custom one could be built to fit your purpose. These kinds of plug-ins are helpful tools and resources for clients and can reduce the time you spend doing basic tasks that you can empower a client to do themself.
3. Client Portal
A client portal provides a secure and convenient platform to communicate and share confidential documents as well as providing storage for historical files that might need to be accessed by both parties.
Making it easy for clients to access the information they need will save them time and hassle and will reduce the admin for your team also.
Providing simple tools that offer improved customer experience will improve client retention as well as attract more clients to your business.
As an architect, you’ve mastered the art of balancing design and functionality. So now we need to ensure that this is reflected on your website. Here are our 3 non-negotiables to make sure your website showcases your work and gets you more leads.
Being an incredible architect will only take you so far if no one knows you exist. Having an amazing website, but not having the imagery to showcase your brilliance is also a bit of a problem.
As an architect, you are selling a future, a dream home and the lifestyle that this will offer. People who visit your website expect to see photos and videos of the work you have done to help them determine whether your style matches their aspirations and to obtain social proof.
Professionally taken high-quality photos and videos will be what keeps people on your site, scrolling through your work longer.
As well as a showcase of photos and videos, include them in case studies to show the before and after as well as explain the remit, any challenges you had to overcome and the thought process behind the design.
User Experience (UX)
A great user experience is an important feature of any website. If you don’t have one, then your users will get frustrated and end up leaving your site.
As much as it’s important to focus on the design and content of your website, make sure it’s not to the detriment of the website’s functionality. Make sure it’s clear how to navigate through it, and that all the buttons and links work.
You also must make sure it’s responsive - this means it should be just as beautiful and functional on mobile as it is on a desktop PC. Having a quirky design style may be a great idea but listen to your web designer on the UX - just as you wish your clients would listen to you when they have a horrible design idea you know won’t work.
Call to Actions (CTA)
If you have heard us mention CTAs before, you already know that this can be so much more than just a ‘Contact Us’ page on your website.
It may include the offer of a free zoom consultation that they can book online or a chat option where they can ask questions using a chatbot or Whatsapp between certain times of the day you are available.
Maybe you send out a quarterly newsletter? Give visitors a way to sign up on your website to receive this. Or perhaps it is just about providing a link to connect to your social media accounts to keep up to date with what you’ve been doing.
Having multiple options for people to engage with allows them to be in control of the level of communication they feel comfortable with at that time.
The process of building or extending a house for a lot of people starts many years before an architect is even thought about, so make sure you are in front of them during that stage of the process too - you’ll be the first one they come to.
If you can nail these 3 things, you’re giving yourself the best opportunity for success!
Have you ever searched for something on your phone only to get to the website and realise it doesn’t work on a mobile? You’re left to pinch and zoom your screen in an attempt to see the information you need?
Today, more than ever, people are searching the web using mobile devices,instead of traditional laptops or desktops. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your website caters to mobile users. If your website content doesn’t fit properly onto a mobile device then there is a high chance that the user will look elsewhere and your business will lose a potential customer. To ensure that doesn’t happen to your business you need to make sure that your business website has a responsive website design. That means that it will respond to the environment in which it is viewed. In other words, your website will be just as functional on a mobile or tablet as it is on a laptop or desktop.
Here are four more reasons why a responsive web design is crucial for your business:
Save time and money
The traditional method for businesses would be to have a standard desktop website and a stand alone mobile website. Instead, by having one responsive website you will save time and money. It takes less time to make one responsive website and there will be lower maintenance. This means you will have more money and less headaches. A win-win.
Google prefers responsive websites, and so having one means it will appear higher on search engine results.
First impressions count. By having a responsive website design you are providing users with a great first impression and giving them a good online experience. It shows that your business is adaptable, modern, and professional, and ensures that you reach a wide range of people.
Improve conversion rates
Having a responsive website design will also mean that your website is fast-loading, functional and easy to use. People are therefore more likely to stay on your page, and make use of your clear call-to-actions, therefore improving the conversion rates.
So, there you have it. If this doesn’t convince you, we don’t know what will!
Now’s the time to invest in a professional lead-generating website and grow your business online. You might be surprised at how affordable a new website is, and you definitely won’t be disappointed with the finished result.