Web Accessibility Part 2: Opening Doors to All Users

Making the Web Accessible for All – Part 2: Common Barriers Faced by Users

The first article in this series focused on why you should consider accessibility a fundamental component of your next web project. Reasons for creating an accessible website can vary – you may want to avoid excluding one in five users, or you might have an aging target customer demographic, or you may have recently learned that your site must be accessible per ADA or Section 508 guidelines. Whatever your reasons for considering web accessibility, understand that it’s a critical part of providing each and every user of your site with a good experience.

Now that we’ve covered why your site should be accessible, let’s focus on how different types of disabilities can impact your customers’ ability to use your website, and what you can do to make it more accessible to everyone.

Different disabilities create unique challenges that make it harder for the user to navigate and interact with your website. We’ll provide an overview of three categories of disabilities—Vision, Hearing and Physical—and how each could impact disabled users on the web.

Vision
Your users may be affected by a wide range of visual impairments: complete blindness, the inability to focus, increased sensitivity, or even lack of contrast or glare. Approximately 8.1 million people in the U.S. reported having difficulty seeing in the 2010 U.S. Census, including 2 million who were blind or unable to see.

Users who are unable to see rely on screen readers to provide navigational cues, as well as text and image content. You should ensure the following features and functionality are present for blind users relying on a screen reader to use your site:

  • Page titles should be clearly written and convey the content on that page
  • Links and buttons should be properly marked up to ensure it’s clear that they are links
  • Images should have meaningful alt tags, and more complex images such as diagrams or infographics should also have their content provided as text elsewhere on the page
  • Form fields must be properly marked up and have clear, understandable labels

Try downloading a screen reader and using it as the sole means of navigating your site. Can you navigate to the pages you’d like to visit? Do you understand all the content, including the content provided by images? If not, you could be losing 20 percent of your customers to sites they can use more easily.

  • Other users might be able to use your site without a screen reader, but have other visual impairments, such as decreased sensitivity to contrast. These users will need:
  • The ability to control and increase the size of your website using a browser’s built-in zoom features
  • The ability to control and increase the text size of your website using browser preferences
  • Text with enough contrast from the background – for example, lighter gray text on a white background can be very challenging for some users to see

Hearing
Hearing impairments affect 7.6 million people (2010 U.S. Census), and this impairment can be especially common in older users. Users with hearing impairments may be unable to discern voices from background noise, hear higher pitched sounds, or just be unable to hear your site’s video or audio files at all.

If your website relies on audio or video content to communicate with users, you should provide:

  • The option to turn on captions within video content
  • A text transcript of audio or video content
  • The ability to control video volume

Additionally, when creating audio or video content, make sure speech is slow and clear, and avoid recording in locations with a lot of background noise to help users discern speech more easily.

Physical
Some of your site’s users may have physical disabilities that reduce their fine-motor control and hand-eye coordination, or simply make controlling a mouse painful and difficult. They might have a hard time clicking on small areas, or difficulty with the coordinated gestures required by a touch interface, such as pinching or multi-finger dragging.

To help these users navigate your site, create:

  • Keyboard alternatives for all mouse actions
  • Larger click targets
  • Forms a user can tab through to complete
  • A site users can control using a voice browser

The good news is that your site may already be partially accessible. Clean, semantic HTML and web best practices such as creating meaningful title and alt tags can take you a long way down the path to a fully accessible website. After testing your site with a screen reader or using voice controls, you may find that you pass some accessibility compliance checks, but not others, and that’s a good first step.

In our final installment of this series, we’ll provide a checklist and tools you can use to ensure your site is truly accessible to all. Or, if you need help assessing, drop us a line!

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Tips for an Unskippable Pre-roll Commercial

More than ever, the onus is on advertisers to prove their commercial is worth watching. According to YouTube, 70% of audiences skip pre-roll advertising after 5 seconds. Could this be because too many TV ads are simply repurposed for digital media? TubeMogul’s 2014 Video Advertising Playbook reveals that custom web creative has an edge when it comes to influencing purchasing intent (1.4% vs. .8% of repurposed TV ads). So, how do you prove your commercial is worth watching? Consider the following examples and tips to make your pre-roll commercial unskippable:

1: Put the customer first

Recognize that you are interrupting your customer’s focused search with an unsolicited message. Online viewers are in a control mindset with their mouse in hand. They have a negative perception about the interruption before they even know the brand. So, how do you turn that around for your audience? See how Burger King connected with young men by relating to their pre-roll pain:

2: Make the first 5 seconds count

Remember the days when 30 seconds seemed like a short time to get message across? Now, we have 5 seconds to do something that connects with the viewer. Whatever you do in the first 5 seconds of your message, it must answer the question: “What will make this ad unskippable?” See how Madagascar 3 hit home with young children, front loading their spot with a winning combination: address the audience + ask a question + several fast cuts:

3: Do something worth sharing

Sharing your brand message with video is easier than ever via digital and social connections. All you have to do is give your audience something worth sharing. Give the audience a slice of entertainment that relates to your message. See how Kmart connected with their conservative shoppers and managed to stay on brand with an unexpected and sharable pre-roll ad laugh:

4: Ask for engagement

It should come as no surprise that viewers “skip this ad” with a ticker and button appearing right before their eyes. See how this job search website from the UK reaches into the psychology of their viewer with this over the top ad that asks for engagement:

I challenge you to assess your pre-roll creative differently than traditional commercials. Put your customer first, demand their attention in the first 5 seconds, do something worth sharing and consider asking for interaction. Following this new formula for digital commercials may force your brand into unexplored territory. Find a way to incorporate these ideas, while still being true to your brand.

I leave you with one final pre-roll commercial attempts to be the most unskippable to raise money for the ASPCA. Did they go too far? You be the judge. . .

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Goals: The Google Analytics Tool You Need to Apply Right Now (Part 2 of 3)

In part 1 of our three-part Google Analytics Tools You Need to Apply Now series, we discussed Views and Filters. We looked at how using these tools mean a world of difference for the data you collect on your site’s performance. In part 2, we’ll look at another tactic that can give definition to, and truly transform, your website’s data. That tactic is called Goal Implementation. Even if you aren’t in the business of selling things, Analytics Goals allows you to set a monetary value to actions that may not be e-commerce in nature.

 

What is a Google Analytics Goal?

Goals are definable actions on your website that can help you see specific successes for your website. There are four common types of Goals that can be defined. They include:

  1. Destination Goals: Tracks when a user visits an important page
  2. Duration Goals: Tracks when a user meets a length-on-page criteria you set
  3. Event Goals: Tracks when users perform an action on your site (eg. download a PDF or play a video)
  4. Pages per Visit Goals: Tracks a designated number of pages viewed

Potentially, every page of your website could have a goal. Assigned to each Goal is a Goal Value. Defined by you, a Value is a monetary amount you assign to an action that can be important to achieving your website’s goal(s).

 

Let’s look at an example: your business manufactures camera and video equipment. Your premium long-range lens sells for $3,000. You’re confident that at least 25% of your customers make a purchase after reading the PDF brochure of information. You can translate that 25% of $3,000 to $750 and assign a $750 Goal Value to the PDF download link on your website.

Another user action, like reading reviews, could assist with product purchases as well. However, they might not be as effective at selling, compared to your brochure. You might assign a $60 Goal Value to the action of reading a review. If you feature a review from an industry expert, it might be appropriate to assign a higher Goal Value, like $120, to that review. The values in this example are arbitrary, but it helps you see how weighting user actions on-site helps you evaluate which lead to the most sales.

This is just one tool in Analytics that can help you understand how many people buy your products based on website actions. Comparing your total monthly product sales to your assigned Values is an indicator of how much your audience values your brochure or reviews when considering or making a purchase. Reviewing these each month can tell you how valuable a particular action is on your website, and how important it is to your business objectives over time.

 

Are people leaving your site from a particular page or after a unique action? Then it’s time to look at re-vamping your content to something that will keep your visitors on your site and interacting with it. Google Analytics offers supplemental tools such as Goal Flow and Multi-Channel Funnels reports. Each report will show your users’ paths and steps taken on your site, even over multiple visits. These help you see the best return on your website’s content over time, especially if you have an SEO strategy in place.

Integrating and tracking Goals will require a little programming and setup within Analytics, but let me tell you, it’s worth it. Take a look at your website content and see what Values you would assign to the marketing areas on your site. Let us know what you find and if you have any questions. Our digital experts can help with that strategy.

 

Stay tuned for part 3 of our Analytics tools series, where we’ll share a little insight into the strategy we use at KW2 to tie information together, and pull out the most important and relevant data and insights for a website.

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