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The Ultimate Guide to Canadian Web Accessibility Laws
  According to a 2017 study, 1 in 5 Canadians aged 15+ has at least one disability. Failing to prioritize web accessibility means ignoring a significant part of the population.  The increasing number of published legal cases around web accessibility shows that making websites accessible for people with disabilities is no longer optional.  The international web standard WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) includes three levels of accessibility compliance: A, AA, and AAA. However, as digital environments continually evolve, these requirements are frequently updated to match increasingly modern needs. The WCAG help companies remove unintentional barriers and reach the widest possible audience.  Accessibility regulations in Canada vary based on: The type of business (public sector company or private organization) The place where your business has been founded The size of your organization Whether your company is country-wide or provincial    So, how can you ensure you meet all Canadian accessibility requirements and provide accessible digital information for all your users? This article dives in the wavy sea of accessibility laws and policies in Canada, so you can determine which ones apply to your business. But first, let's have a look at what makes a website accessible. What is web accessibility? For a website to be accessible, it has to offer people with disabilities and those using assistive technologies easy ways to interact with the entire content found on the site. By supporting your visitors to overcome accessibility barriers in their interaction with your site, you position your brand as a trustful one. Therefore, the benefits of web accessibility extend to your business as well, not only your website's users.  Web content accessibility doesn't just include people with disabilities. It also refers to content that can be easily understood and interacted with by smartphone users, elderly people, persons with low literacy, or those who have low English skills.  An accessible website includes the following: ALT text for all types of images Captions and transcripts for audio and video content to help persons with disabilities, hearing loss, or low English skills understand the information provided.  Link names that contain meaningful and descriptive text which can be easily interpreted by screen readers. Relevant, appropriately formatted headlines that help people with disabilities that use assistive software easily find the information they are interested in. This accessibility step also improves your SEO and SERP rankings.  Use meaningful link texts that clearly describe what the URL i about. Try to include specific keyword and avoid raw URLs.  Clear website instructions that make your users' interactions with your site more straightforward and streamlined.    What is accessible content? Maybe your website is an Ecommerce platform, or it might be a publishing site on various topics. Regardless of its scope, your website has to provide clear, meaningful, and concise content in order to be considered accessible.  As a content editor, you need to pay attention to how you write your copy so that it is always: Perceivable. Website users should easily perceive any piece of content that is presented on the site. Operable. When structured, a site's content should focus on operability. Understandable. Accessible content is comprehensive, concise, and includes meaningful structural elements. Robust. A piece of content is considered robust when it can be easily scanned and interpreted by assistive technologies.  By doing so, your web content will be accessible to all your users (persons with disabilities, smartphone users, elderly people, non-native English speakers, etc.)    What are the most important web accessibility laws in Canada? According to the Canadian Standard on Web Accessibility, all Governments of Canada websites and web applications must conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA.  Note: This does not apply to any business outside the government.    Provincial regulations The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) established in 2005 was the first provincial accessibility law and is currently the only provincial law with an explicit digital accessibility element.  Public sector organizations, private, and non-profit organizations with more than 50 employees need to comply to AODA regulations. Despite the fact that the AODA does not apply to self-employed individuals that don't have employees, all businesses in Ontario, regardless of size, are urged to consider web accessibility a priority.  The current minimum standard for all public-facing websites is to comply with Level A and all public sector organizations and private businesses with 50+ employees need to be WCAG 2.0 AA accessible.  To maintain their accessibility compliance status, companies are also required to publish a Statement of Accessibility Commitment and Accessibility Policy on their websites. The deadline for this report was set for December 31, 2020, and extended to June 30, 2021.  In regard to companies that own a website with content built by international vendors, the content must comply with local laws and policies. Ontario.ca specifies, “The organization that controls the website must meet the accessibility requirements.”    Accessible Canada Act (ACA) The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) founded in 2019 by the Federal Government intends to create a barrier-free Canada for people with disabilities by 2040. Its futuristic vision and well-established strategies were built with the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in mind.  These new legislations benefit everyone in Canada, especially people with disabilities, through the proactive identification, elimination, and avoidance of barriers to accessibility in the digital environment. The ACA encourages the Government of Canada to collaborate with stakeholders and persons with disabilities to create new accessibility regulations for private or non-profit organizations, banking, telecommunications, or transportation industries.  To discover the right direction of the ACA development, the Government of Canada asked its citizens what an accessible Canada meant to them. The findings of the report, Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned from Canadians, outlines the following key areas where accessibility needed reinforcement: Programs and service delivery Employment Information and communication technology Procurement and transportation The ACA set a new accessibility standard for publishing and promoting digital content, and it received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.  What lays at the foundation of ACA is eliminating the barriers to accessibility for Canadians with disabilities and help them interact more easily with digital content and technology. One touchpoint of the ACA is the digital experience, which can be made accessible by: Leveraging conformance-facing tools in workspaces (intranets, employee services, internal learning resources) Including conformance of digital tools and content from vendors Installing kiosks, parking machines, or payments machines   How to comply with accessibility laws In today's busy and complex digital landscape, all websites are highly encouraged to take accessibility seriously. Regardless of the regulation, you can ensure that you pass the accessibility test by: Keeping up to date with the latest versions of WCAG, which constantly change to match current technologies and user research. These regulations are established to meet a wide range of needs, including those of people with low vision or neurologic disorders, and to keep pace with the ever-changing mobile landscape.  Leveraging analytics data to help you understand your target audience and their unique needs. Additionally, you can talk and ask for feedback from your active users to better grasp your website's strengths and weaknesses. By gaining awareness of ideas of improvement directly from your audience, you'll deliver more personalized and accessible web experiences. Testing assistive technology tools to gain a more accurate perspective on how you can support, for example, people relying on screen readers. Get in the shoes of your users and become more empathetic to be able to come up with appropriate inclusive solutions to make your site more accessible.    Fines and penalties So, what happens if you fail to comply to the accessibility regulations that apply to your organization?  The fines under the AODA include: Companies can be penalized up to $100,000/day. Individuals and unincorporated businesses can receive fines of up to $50,000/day. Managers and officers in a corporation can be fined up to $50,000/day.   The current enforcement instructions state that businesses are fined larger penalties for their first violation, and, if the lack of compliance continues, these penalties can apply every day.  However, the way these fines are given depends on the impact of the non-compliance and the history of the company or individual that has committed the violation. For minor violations, organizations may be fined as little as $500/day.  The AODA applies to all levels of government, non-profit and private sector companies, but the penalties are currently targeting only organizations with 50+ employees.    How can your business benefit from complying with accessibility laws? Improving your website's accessibility is wise regardless of legal compliance regulations. It is also good for the business. Some key benefits of optimizing your site for accessibility are: Higher traffic rates on your website. By making your site accessible, you are opening the door for a wider range of visitors, which may lead to increased traffic, engagement, and conversion rates. More customers. Web accessibility is all about meeting a wide variety of customer needs, and it can grow your customer base in the long run.  Improved SEO rankings. Some practices to make your site more accessible include writing relevant, concise content, adding ALT-text to images, or selecting simplistic layout designs. Also, these practices are good for SEO, as they increase your SERP ratings and your website's visibility.  Faster page loading speed. By working on your website's accessibility, you also improve your page loading time and the overall user experience.    Conclusion Keeping up with the evolving web accessibility laws in Canada is a must. The next step is to become proactive on your accessibility journey by designing and optimizing your web apps and sites to comply with the rules and regulations of WCAG. This will not only keep you away from lawsuits and penalties, but it will also boost your brand reputation and your business outcomes.  If you need a hand on building websites and web apps that are compliant with the latest Canadian accessibility laws, we are happy to help. Check out our Drupal Website Accessibility services and let's discuss how you can embrace an inclusive mindset that supports all your customers.    Photo credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash. ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jul 22'2021
 How to Create Accessible Content More Easily
  Web accessibility heavily relies on developers and designers. They are responsible for building code and specific design patterns to make a website accessible for people with disabilities.  Another way to enhance a site's accessibility is through content. Creating accessible content is paramount when it comes to making a website accessible to screen reader users or visitors that use assistive technologies.  Content editors can give a piece of writing accessibility by: writing relevant, concise, descriptive text links creating easily scannable headings adding alternative texts to every non-text element of the content writing meaningful copy   Regardless of the scope of your website, as a content editor, your mission is to create and optimize every piece of writing on your site with accessibility in mind. This also means putting yourself into the shoes of your audience and thinking from their perspective. You should ask yourself: What do I need in order to have full access to this website? Which features and website tools can help visitors interact with this website more conveniently?  If you use empathy to answer these questions, you'll get closer to understanding your audience. Only then will you be on the right path to building accessible content on your website.    How do you define accessible content? Web content accessibility doesn't just include people with disabilities. It also refers to content that can be easily understood and interacted with by smartphone users, older people, persons with low literacy, or those who have low English skills.  According to the WCAG 2.0 standards, web content is considered accessible if it's: Perceivable. Website users should easily perceive any piece of content that is presented on the site.  Operable. When structured, a site's content should focus on operability. Understandable. Accessible content is comprehensive, concise, and includes meaningful structural elements. Robust. A piece of content is considered robust when it can be easily scanned and interpreted by assistive technologies.    How to create accessible content 1. Use specific link texts. And try to avoid link text like "Click here" as they're not suitable in terms of accessibility. Meaningful link texts convey and clearly describe what the URL is about, making it easier for people who use screen readers to interact with the content.  When using link texts, try to: Avoid raw URLs  Include specific keywords Be short and concise Make sure the link text fits naturally into the content Mention the type and size of files  in case of downloadable links   2. Write clear and simple content.  Using concise language for your website's content benefits multiple groups of visitors, such as: Users with cognitive disabilities Non-native English speakers Screen reader users Busy people who want to quickly go through your copy Depending on the professional level of your content's target audience, you should either avoid or explain technical terms and acronyms. Also, focus on using an active voice that clearly states your ideas and avoid long sentences and idioms.    3. Provide transcripts and captions.  While captions appear on the screen as written text, transcripts are the textual version of the video or audio content provided in a separate document.  Transcripts and captions make websites more accessible for users who: Have hearing issues Have low English skills Can't listen to the content due to environmental reasons Transcripts and captions can be provided for all video and audio content, or they can be done by request. Either way, they are great ways to improve a website's accessibility.    4. Add relevant, appropriately formatted headlines.  People with disabilities that use assistive software need scannable content that allows them to quickly find relevant information instead of wasting time going through the entire chunk of text. Structuring and styling your content in a scannable manner can also enhance your SEO efforts and improves your SERP visibility.   Design your headings with accessibility in mind, and ensure that you use them as structural elements of the content and define its hierarchy. The accessible text needs to provide readers the ability to quickly navigate between the most important sections, and headings are the tool for allowing this.    5. Use ALT text for images.  Whether you have complex images or just decorative images on your site, make them accessible by providing precise and concise ALT descriptions. Screen readers can't interpret non-text content elements, so images without ALT text are useless for screen reader users.  Like headlines, alternate descriptions highly improve your SEO rankings and visibility.  Make sure you use ALT text wisely by: Keeping your description short (under 125 characters) Avoiding images with text like graphs or diagrams    6. Write clear, to-the-point website instructions. Web accessibility is all about easier interactions with digital platforms. People want web experiences that require as few resources as possible on their part. And for online visitors with disabilities, this is more than a demand; it is a necessity.  Therefore, web instructions, error messages, or data formats must be easy to understand, so they can be considered accessible.  Part of creating accessible web content includes paying attention to how you write basic text like website instructions.   Web accessibility is here to stay. Implementing web accessibility into the core of your digital platform is a must. As web accessibility laws are getting more restrictive, brands start to think of making their websites accessible to support the future of their businesses. In an increasingly populated digital landscape, the mindset has to evolve in order to meet the complex needs of a variety of internet users. Companies that don't keep up with these trends will fall behind, and those who take web accessibility seriously will be on the winning side.  As we've seen, accessible content creation is not rocket science and will improve your website in multiple ways. Making your content accessible should be a priority and an essential part of your editorial workflow.  A few practices to remember for optimizing your content are: Always use ALT text for images Provide captions and transcripts for audio and video content Properly structure and format headings   If you need help to make your website more accessible, check out Optasy's Drupal Website Accessibility services. We'll offer our best support for helping you adopt an accessibility-first mindset to your website.    Photo credit: Nick Morrison on Unsplash.   ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jul 20'2021
10 Best Practices for Making Web Icons Accessible
  It's no secret that icons are widely used in web design and, to fully reap their potential, they should be truly inclusive. There are multiple ways in which brands can make their website content easy to interact with for people with disabilities, and icon accessibility is one of them. Regardless of the type of web icons you choose—material icons, flat icons, graphical icons, ready-made or fully custom, or on-brand icons—they have to be visible to all users. How can you make icons accessible to everyone? Keep reading to find out: What defines an accessible icon Best practices for making icons accessible Types of web icons and practical approaches for improving their accessibility   What's an accessible icon? Icons that can be understood by all website visitors, no matter what impairments or disabilities they might have, can be considered accessible. To make icons fully accessible to screen reader users, consider following these steps: 1. Focus on noticeability. Whether it is a decorative icon or a standard icon, if it can't be instantly perceivable to all users, it becomes inaccessible. This means that visitors shouldn't have to perform any extra action on your site in order to view the icon.  2. Insert text labels. This is a safety measure worth investing in to ensure your icons are accessible to the widest range of users. To prevent unclear situations from arising, add a text label near any type of graphical icons you use on your site.  3. Consider color contrast. If an icon's color contrast is too low, some users with vision loss might have trouble seeing it. Screen reader users need enough foreground-background color to easily notice your icons.  4. Don't forget about the size. To be properly sized, icons must have around 44x44 pixels. Icon links must be treated with care as, if they're smaller than 44x44 pixels, they may become inaccessible on smaller devices.  5. Make your icons are mouse, touchscreen, and keyboard accessible. If you're thinking of interactive icons, then you need to ensure that users can easily click on them, whether they use a mouse, keyboard, or touchscreen.    Best practices for making icons accessible How can you turn a standard icon into an accessible icon? Here are some useful tips to consider on this journey: Use the most popular pixel measurements and square dimensions. The most frequently used sizes for web icons are:  128x128 16x16 512x512 64x64 256x256 Make linked icons accessible with ALT-text. For example, you can write 'Email us' as the ALT-text near your '@' email icon.  Use more SVG or PNG file formats. It's easier to make icons accessible with SVG icon systems or PNGs, and, as most designers advise, icon fonts should be avoided.  Adjust the icon-background color contrast properly. If you consider adding your web icon to the background, you need to adjust the color contrast accordingly.  Use a visible-hidden class selector for the text accompanying the icon. If you've inserted an explanatory text within your link icon, and you want it to be visible to screen readers only, a visible-hidden class selector is a solution. However, be careful that, by doing so, the click/touch area will be smaller, and some screen reader users might not understand what the icon does.  Insert visible text next to semantic icons. This is another safety measure to ensure that the meaning of your icons is 100% clear to all visitors. While semantic icons are standalone icons that have meaning, the safest way to make them visible to anyone is by accompanying them with visible explanatory text. Make icon fonts accessible. If you do decide to use icon fonts (try to avoid it as we discussed earlier), then add aria-hidden="true" to the element to ensure they are fully accessible.  Don't use ALT-Text to text-based icons. It's easy to see why you should avoid using an ALT text near a text-based icon, as it becomes unnecessary and might even confuse screen reader users.    How to use icons efficiently within apps and online The main goal of web icons is to quickly convey meaning for all types of users. However, if not used accordingly, icons can do more harm than good by being difficult to interpret.  To avoid this, make sure you choose commonly used icons. For example, it is likely that most users will recognize the hamburger icon as the menu and the wheel icon as the settings. That's why, opting for popular, simple icons is more beneficial than using unusual ones.  Another tip for efficiently using icons on your site is to be consistent in doing so. More exactly, give each icon on your website one meaning only. Using the same icon for different purposes will confuse your visitors and alter the user experience.  Also, avoid using small icons as they can be challenging to understand, especially for users with visual impairments. A tiny decorative icon can also prevent users with limited fine motor skills from easily interacting with your site, and can also be hard to click on mobile device screens. After implementing all these tips and best practices, you need feedback to see whether you're going on the right track or not. To ensure that the icon sizes and icon types used on your site are as clear and meaningful as possible for your audience, you need to test them with real end-users.  Remote testing is one approach that can help you easily gather data on whether your icons are accessible or not from a large number of users.   Web accessibility as regulation and necessity The legal requirements around web accessibility have become more complex in recent years. More emphasis is being put on making websites accessible for individuals with disabilities, and the fines for not doing so can be considerable.  Web accessibility is not only beneficial for users, but also for companies. What are the benefits of web accessibility for your business? From increased website traffic and online visibility to improved brand reputation and bigger customer base, the competitive advantages of making your website accessible are multiple.  As the number of internet users is constantly on the rise, businesses need to develop and maintain innovative mindsets that promote inclusion and diversity. Proper access to all elements in a website for all users is no longer optional, but necessary.  The rise of assistive technology usage requires optimized websites that take into consideration the needs of a wide range of internet users with various health conditions. Graphic icons can be a powerful way to enhance accessibility in apps and web pages if they are implemented with care.  This means choosing which accessibility issues to prioritize based on the needs of your audience. Completing an accessibility remediation project requires a deep understanding of how your users interact with your website. When prioritizing, you also have to consider the direction of your business strategy, content, and website functionality.  If you need help choosing the best approach to prioritization or making your website more accessible through optimized icons, drop us a line, and discover our Drupal Website Accessibility services.    Photo credit: Harpal Singh on Unsplash.         ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jul 19'2021
How to Prioritize Accessibility Issues - 8 Tips
  Completing an accessibility remediation project can be tricky. It's one thing to spot issues in your web accessibility plan and another to efficiently prioritize solving them. How do you prioritize accessibility problems? Which issues should you address first? There are several ways to do this, by noticeability, by severity, or by tractability—which one do you choose? There are multiple questions at this point and, hopefully, this article will help you answer all of them. Keep reading to discover eight simple ways to prioritize the issues included in your accessibility audit report.    Why is web accessibility important?   Web accessibility is essential for both people with disabilities and businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures taken by the government have accelerated digital transformation and changed the online climate.  As the number of internet users has increased to 4.66 billion in January 2021 and appointments to COVID-19 vaccine shots have been made through online platforms, web accessibility has become even more crucial than before.  People with high-risk medical conditions and those from priority populations need streamlined access to vaccine appointments, and here's where web accessibility optimization counts.  U.S. and Canadian regulations regarding web accessibility have been reinforced in the last year, with an increase of 20% in web accessibility lawsuits.    How does web accessibility benefit users and businesses?   Making your website accessible brings multiple benefits for your digital users and your company. By helping your audience overcome accessibility barriers in their interaction with your site, you are more likely to earn their trust and long-term loyalty. And by making your customers happy, you invest in the well-being of your business as well.  Satisfied customers mean higher engagement and conversion rates, and improved traffic on your site.  Making web accessibility a priority in your development practices is also essential to avoid the risk of legal complications. Today, optimizing websites for people with disabilities is no longer optional, unless you don't mind legal fees and penalties.  As the digital world is getting more complex, innovation is what often makes the difference between success and failure. Trends are ever-changing, so being able to innovate and come up with creative solutions to your problems is key.  Web accessibility helps you maintain a flexible and innovative mindset, as it forces you to deal with unanticipated issues that require extra creativity.  Another benefit of making your site more accessible is that, by doing so, you're also making it more SEO-friendly.  You can improve your site's accessibility by adding ALT-text to images, writing clear content, or choosing a clutter-free page layout. All of these steps also mean good SEO practices.    8 tips for efficiently prioritizing accessibility issues   We've now understood why digital properties need to be accessible and what are the benefits of web accessibility for users and businesses.  Now let's dive in and explore some best practices on how to efficiently create a strategic accessibility prioritization plan.   1. Does your website have lots of images on it? Then your main focus should be ALT text.  2. What does your analytical data tell you? Prioritize addressing accessibility issues according to this data to improve the user experience. If your target audience heavily relies on screen magnifiers to zoom in on particular sections on your site, then prioritize solving the issues around this specific feature.  Take advantage of analytics tools and statistics to accurately address the needs of your customers and efficiently design your site accessibility plan.  If you know that your population of users who uses a keyboard is 1 %, and your magnification users are 5 %, then a keyboard focus issue which normally is in the bottom third of the list since it is an AA suddenly becomes more important. In other words, prioritizing web accessibility issues according to their WCAG level (A, AA, AAA) is a bit rudimentary in the complex digital scenario that we currently interact with.  What matters more is how these accessibility issues impact your customer base—that's where you should start from.  3. Does your site have lots of video content on it? In this case, prioritize adding captions to address the needs of people with disabilities.  4. Is an issue repetitive for screen readers? Then treat it as a top priority.  For example, link names are a common issue listed on the W3C accessibility checklist. These links should contain unique, meaningful, and descriptive text. If your automated accessibility testing tool has identified repeated issues with link names and the experience of website visitors using a screen reader might be compromised, then address it quickly.  5. Are your users having trouble submitting forms?  If so, consider addressing these web accessibility issues that prevent users from filling in a form on your website. Usability issues like inaccessible inline error messages or unhelpful error text messages can send a message to your visitors that they don't matter enough to have access to basic streamlined experiences on your site.  6. Does your site have accessibility issues that affect the user navigation experience? In this case, you know what to do: prioritize solving any issue that negatively impacts the way your visitors interact and navigate on your website. A poor navigation experience is bad for any visitor and even worse for users with disabilities who depend on assistive technologies to interact with your site. Most likely, they'll get discouraged, frustrated, and never again willing to come back to your website.  7. Are there any accessibility issues on your site's main pages? Consider putting them on top of your accessibility remediation list. Why? Well, it's pretty straightforward: your main pages like the product page or the contact us page are the ones your visitors interact the most with.  'It will be very difficult for a website to conform to all criteria on level AAA. For this reason, the recommendation is to address accessibility issues based on popular pages and specific groups.' 8. Do you prioritize according to your audience's needs, content, or website functionality? If not, get started because internal prioritization based on the requirements of your web accessibility plan is many times the winning strategy. Taking the 'A level vs AA level' shortcut may not be as effective, leading to poor long-term results. In today's highly dynamic digital landscape, web accessibility issues prioritization must be made based on deeper insights that involve your audience and business direction.    Key aspects of web accessibility   You now understand the importance of web accessibility for your audience and for your business, as well as how to spot priority issues in your accessibility strategy.  Next, let's have a look at what makes a website accessible and what goals you should set for your website's content and design to make it accessible: Ensure that your design elements and text are visible for all users Create robust content that can be easily interpreted by specific assistive technology tools Make sure the information you deliver on your website is clear and the user interface easy to navigate and interact with   Some key features that boost accessibility in a website are:   Color contrast - Website visitors that can benefit from this accessibility feature are the ones with a sight condition, people who are accessing your site from their mobile devices, those accessing it in a poorly lit environment, etc. Implement a good color contrast between the background and the foreground of your site makes it more visible and enhances text readability. Text to speech - This accessibility feature allows users with learning disabilities to interact with your website in a convenient manner. Also, people with literacy difficulties, low vision, or just busy users that choose multitasking will be highly grateful for a text to speech feature.  Clear and constant instructions - Providing feedback in the form of error/success messages for every action that users need to complete or have completed can highly benefit users with cognitive and learning disabilities or visitors that aren't skilled at computer operations. People love clear instructions, especially if they struggle to complete certain tasks, so making your website predictable and convenient is key. Video captions -  Captions or subtitles make your video content accessible to people with hearing loss or users accessing your content from a loud environment. This feature is highly convenient and should not miss your top ten accessibility features list.  Clear layouts and design - The benefits here are multiple, as simple designs load faster, provide better user experiences, and improve your website's SEO rankings. You can maintain your site clutter-free by getting rid of unnecessary design elements, non-relevant content, and unnecessary code. To decide which parts of your site need decluttering, perform an audit of the text sections, links, and menus, and start cleaning your site.  Voice recognition - This accessibility feature is not beneficial just for users with various health conditions. It's convenient for anyone who would rather utter search phrases instead of writing them in the search bar.  ALT-tags - When you think of accessibility, you think of confidence and comfort. That's what you want to give your audience and, by using concise descriptions, you offer them a sense of trust and control. Impersonal image descriptions that include specific keywords are the most helpful to them.    Prioritizing web accessibility is not optional anymore. Learning how to efficiently manage your accessibility prioritization plan can be challenging, but, hopefully, the insights from this article have paved the way for a pragmatic approach to accessibility prioritization. You now have a better understanding of how to decide which functionalities need immediate attention, as well as the issues that should be fixed first.  Efficient accessibility prioritization is all about stepping out of your business shoes and empathize with the user who's most affected by accessibility issues. Ask yourself, 'If I couldn't access this, how would it make me feel?' Then you'll be able to truly get on the other side of the table and understand your audience, thus prioritizing with their needs in mind.  Check out our Drupal Website Accessibility services for more insights on how you can take web accessibility to the next level.  Photo credit: mohamed_hassan on Pixabay.     ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jul 15'2021
What Are the Benefits of Web Accessibility for Your Business?
  For people with disabilities, web accessibility is highly beneficial. They use multiple assistive technology tools that often require accessible web design and apps to function properly.  It is obvious how web accessibility benefits users with disabilities, but what about businesses? What are the advantages of building accessible sites for your company? Keep reading, and you'll discover seven key benefits of making your website ADA-compliant.    Why do companies hesitate to invest in web accessibility?   A survey of around 500 U.S. business leaders and web designers shows the main reasons behind the reluctance of some companies to make a website accessible. Most of the respondents confessed they are worried about the financial investments and potentially high costs (73.6%), while 66.9% think optimizing their sites for accessibility will require too much time.  We are here to tell you that making your website accessible for people with disabilities doesn't require too many resources, will highly benefit the user experience, and most probably keep you away from web accessibility lawsuits.    7 Benefits of Making Your Website Accessible   1. Increased traffic on your site. There's a myth regarding accessible websites that says accessibility only benefits the visitors. However, by improving the user experience and making it accessible for anyone, you plant the seeds for: Higher traffic rates on your site Better user engagement Improved search engine optimization rankings Higher conversion rate   2. Lower risk of legal complications. As legal requirements regarding web accessibility are getting tougher, optimizing your site for people with disabilities becomes non-optional—unless you don't mind being prosecuted. Make sure your site meets specific accessibility guidelines and pay attention to the accessibility standards required by the industry that you're operating in.    3. Bigger customer base. Making your website accessible means addressing the needs of bigger social groups, and that, in the long term, could lead to you growing your customer base. By investing in accessible design, you can attract more visitors that are likely to engage with your brand on a long-term basis.   4.  A more innovative business mindset. Building accessible design for your website visitors challenges you to deal with unanticipated issues and thus puts your creativity at work.  The constraint of adapting your design so that it incorporates a whole set of accessibility features challenges you to... come up with innovative solutions—and to preserve that mindset for innovation in the long term. In the current dynamic digital landscape, staying creative and ready for innovation is key to keep up with the ever-changing trends.    5. Boosted SEO efforts.  You can improve your site's accessibility by adding ALT-text to images, writing clear content, or choosing a clutter-free page layout. All of these steps also mean good SEO practices.  So, by making your website more accessible, you're also making it more SEO-friendly. You probably already know the importance of investing in robust SEO strategies in today's digital landscape. It's all about how high you rank on SERPs and the level of visibility that your website is gaining.    6. Improved brand reputation.  Accessibility is also essential for your business as it helps grow your brand reputation. By ensuring your website's universal design grants equal rights and easy access to your content, you raise awareness and build a positive reputation around your business.  Today, having an inaccessible website is the digital equivalent of sticking a big KEEP OUT sign in front of your business.    7. Faster page loading time.  It has been proven that if you improve a page's level of accessibility, you boost its speed score. As modern internet users demand fast website experiences, you want to improve your page loading times to keep up with your visitors' needs. By implementing features designed for users with disabilities, you're making your site a better place for all users.    There are many ways in which you can promote accessibility on your website. For example, users that struggle with visual impairments benefit the most from screen readers to help them understand the content on a particular website. This is a way to make your website accessible for people with sight issues and offer some support in making their daily lives a bit easier.    Hopefully, this article sheds some light on the importance of web accessibility for your business and how building a universal design for your site can positively impact your brand.  For more insights on how Optasy can help you make your website more accessible, check out our Drupal Website Accessibility services.    Photo credit: Wirestock on freepik.       ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jul 12'2021
6 Experts Talk About the Advantages of Using Drupal
  As the digital landscape is constantly evolving, there is an increased pressure on web content management systems (CMSs) to keep pace with the needs of the modern consumer.  To meet these complex demands that revolve around highly personalized and interactive web experiences and streamlined connectivity between devices, companies require websites that can support these goals.  One of the most powerful enterprise-level CMS platforms, Drupal, can handle more complex projects and its capabilities, as the Drupal founder, Dries Buytaert, reveals, only get better with experience.    Why is Drupal web development the right choice?   There are multiple competitive advantages that organizations can reap from using Drupal to handle their online presence. How do you know if Drupal is the right choice for your next web development project? Check out this list of key features and capabilities that Drupal offers and see how they can fit in with your needs and demands.   Are you looking to highly customize your website and content? Drupal's widely-known customizing power allows you to adjust and edit over 16,000 plug-ins and modules. If you need a CMS that can support your web development projects by implementing additional custom features like CRM, security, or SEO, with a focus on customizability, then Drupal might be the best fit.   What do the experts say? Nick Wilde, a Full-stack developer (including DevOps) at North Studios, thoroughly recommends Drupal for companies looking to change and customize their digital approaches:  "I love a *lot* of the changes in Drupal 8 compared to 7 or 6, but most of them didn't really change the way I worked. I mean, sure, using slightly different hooks etc. - but that's not really any different than integrating with different modules to my mind at least. What really did change my way of working was the Configuration Management Initiative's work, and by changed I mean massively improved. Yes, some degree of custom integration is possible with Drupal 7 with hook_update_N() and/or the features module, but in Drupal 8, a solid reproducible, testable CI and deployment process is not just possible but easy. (Yes, I'm a smidge of a fanatic about DevOps and process, despite being primarily a developer). When doing complex back-end work, moving to an Object Oriented system has felt like coming home since I started programming with Python in an OOP code-base.”   Is flexibility important for your web development project? A major selling point of Drupal lies in its rich potential to build and manage a wide range of content types, whether it is a blog post, podcast, or any other custom content types. By enabling a flexible design platform, Drupal allows users to create and manage content-rich media or eCommerce sites.    What do the experts say? Alex Moreno, a software architect, based in London, is helping big companies with their Drupal and IoT projects and has revealed how he uses Drupal's flexible core capabilities to catch up with the ever-evolving technology transformations: “Although you could flex Drupal 7 to adapt to this changing environment, the real power and flexibility comes with having a Drupal 8 architecture, where this flexibility is already in the core. That has implications for performance, adaptability, simpler architecture of services around Drupal, etc.”   Are you considering scalability as an important asset for your web project? If so, Drupal is a winning choice. When accommodating content growth becomes a challenge, Drupal steps in with its tremendously scalable capabilities and supports your growth in an effortless manner.    What do the experts say? Drupal expert, Malabya Tewari, talks about how Drupal Modules can help build a responsive design and flexible user experiences: “When I started my career with Drupal 6 briefly and then moved on to Drupal 7, I really liked the abundance of modules Drupal 7 had. ‘There is a module for that’ was a common statement while building a feature. When I transitioned to Drupal 8 and when it was in its pre-release state, there were no contributed modules. Of course, views and entity reference were in core, but it lacked the huge pool of modules that Drupal 7 had. Instead, Drupal 8 had some great flexible and robust components which mostly worked for me. Even though there was a lot of learning to do, pretty soon I got the hang of it and found out that you don't need a module for that. That's how it changed my working approach with Drupal 8 because I can build a lot of great things without any contributed module.”   Do you need greater functionality around your site's translation capabilities? Drupal 8 supports 100 different languages for translation, and these multilingual features come with the installation interfaces. That means that you can build your multilingual Drupal website easier than ever before, at no additional costs.    What do the experts say? Penyaskito is a Drupal contributor and developer at Lingotek, who manages a cloud-based translation management system for their clients. He speaks highly of Drupal's multilingual capabilities: “Thanks to the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative, translation is not an afterthought in Core anymore. And thanks to the clean APIs that were designed with this in mind, we are able to improve every day functionalities for our clients in our integration with Drupal 8. While with other CMS we devote time constantly to integrate with contributed modules or alike, we can focus on new functionalities as this APIs make us compatible with most contrib modules out of the box without any extra effort on our side.”   Are you interested in building a content management framework based on API architectures? Drupal's caching modules support faster page loading, optimized bandwidth, and a robust web performance to meet the needs of the modern digital consumer. Whether used for content publishing or for optimizing the user interface, Drupal's 8 API-based architecture is a top upgrade compared to previous versions.    What do the experts say? Let's see what Dries Buytaert, the father of Drupal and CTO of Acquia, has to say about Drupal's web service APIs: “You want to enable your developers to easily deliver content to different devices, channels, and platforms. This means that the content needs to be available through APIs. This is aligned with Drupal 8's roadmap, where we are focused on web services capabilities. Through Drupal's web service APIs, developers can build freely in different front-end technologies, such as Angular, React, Ember, and Swift, as well as Java and .NET. For developers, accomplishing this without the maintenance burden of a full Drupal site or the complexity of configuring standard Drupal to be decoupled is key.”   If you are not yet sure about choosing Drupal for your next web development project, we are more than happy to help you with professional advice tailored to your needs and demands. Contact us and let's start your outstanding web development project.   Here's another quote from a Drupal expert, Nick Lewis, on how Drupal 8 is influencing the way he approaches his tasks:  “Drupal 8 is looking very interesting indeed, a big leap forwards from its previous versions. I’m busy working out how to get D8 modules up and running for a client project. Well I am working on a project right now for a large global fast food outlet (here in the UK), switching from one very popular CRM system into D8 as it will cut costs tremendously and not only that, recruitment will be easier given Drupal’s wide adoption in the community.”   Photo credit: Den Harrson on Unsplash.  ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jul 01'2021
How Can You Attract More Organic Traffic on Your Website?
  The ultimate goal of any marketer is to build long-term customer relationships that drive sales. There are multiple strategies and tools to make this happen, but we'll discuss only one of them in this article.  When looking to attract and retain customers, one main challenge is to ensure that potential prospects find you and not your competitor when searching for products like the ones you are selling. To do this, you need to optimize your website so that you drive more organic traffic to it, improve your presence on search engines, and engage your target audience.  Contrary to popular belief, there is more to boosting organic website traffic than search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising. In this article, we'll look at some tips and tricks that work to increase organic traffic with few resources.   Key Tips for Driving More Traffic on Your Website   1. Write blog posts on a regular basis. Blogging allows you to connect deeper with your audience, position your business as a trustful advisor in the industry, and create persona-based content that attracts visitors. Starting to blog regularly is one of the most efficient ways in which you can drive more organic traffic to your site.   2. Be proactive on social media channels. After you've produced quality content, your next step is to promote your blog posts and bring them in front of your audience. Social media marketing is a great tool to improve your content strategy and make sure your content gets to be seen. Twitter is a great social media platform that you can use, especially for B2C niches, whereas Google+ works best in the B2B area.   3. Pay attention to on-page SEO factors. A highly optimized web page or blog post requires three key ingredients: the meta title, URL, and description. If you get them right, you won't need many other SEO tools to boost your organic traffic.    4. Harness the power of internal links. As soon as you've created some quality content that can attract your target audience, you can start linking any piece of content from your blog on your website to guide your visitors to additional content that may be of interest to them.    5. Make the most of email marketing. Although this type of digital marketing is considered a traditional method that might not work in the current ever-changing digital environment, we recommend email marketing as a powerful tool to boost organic site traffic. When used correctly, email marketing can act as a reliable traffic source and lower your bounce rate. Don't forget to constantly review your email list and remove any email address that is not relevant anymore.    6. Don't forget about website responsiveness and speed. Nothing raises your bounce rate more than a slow, unresponsive website. Today, online users expect websites to be accessible and comfortably viewable on multiple devices. Making sure your website is mobile-friendly and optimized for high performance and speed will highly cause an increase in traffic on your site.    7. Regularly check metrics and analytics data. By keeping a close eye on how your audience interacts with your website and content, you'll be able to make adjustments accordingly and improve the user experience. Explore the engagement rate and understand how your ideal audience behaves so that you can pave the way for more organic visitors and higher conversion rates.    These are just a few simple steps you can use to drive quality traffic to your site and attract more organic visitors to interact with your original content. For more information and professional advice on how you can increase your visibility on search engines and attract your target audience to your website, reach us on Optasy.com.    Photo credit: Tumisu on Pixabay.       ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jun 23'2021
5 WordPress Best Practices for Improved UX
  Think of the last website you visited. Maybe it was an online store, a blog, or an entertainment website.  The way you interacted with the site's interface is most likely what you remember most about the whole experience - was the website loading fast?, was it easy to navigate? - was it optimized for mobile? These factors contribute to the quality of the user experience (UX) that a website provides and often determine whether or not people come back for another experience.  Building, optimizing, and maintaining a website while having the UX at the center of the web development process is imperative. At the end of the day, the health and prosperity of your site and business heavily depend on your audience and customers.  With this in mind, let's have a closer look at five best practices that you can implement right away to improve the UX on your WordPress site.    1. Accelerate Your Site's Loading Speed.    Today, people are living fast-paced lifestyles. They require speed and easy-to-access experiences. As the average human attention span has dropped to eight seconds, the success or failure of a website to provide high-quality UX depends on how fast page load times are.  According to a study by Google, 53% of users abandon sites that have more than three seconds delay on mobile devices. So, if you haven't yet optimized your website's loading speed, the time to start is now. Have a look at some critical tips for approaching page speed optimization: Host your site on a high-performance server. Streamline your HTML code. Use image optimization plugins for WordPress. Identify and delete unused content from your database. Reduce HTTP requests.   2. Keep Your WordPress, UX Design Simple.    As Leonardo da Vinci put it: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Website builders often go to great lengths to create designs that sweep visitors off their feet and end up compromising on ease of use and accessibility. That's not something you want to do if you have a UX-centered mindset.  Instead of overloading your pages with content and information that confuses and frustrates your visitors, focus on simplifying the design, making it functional and easy to understand.  A few elements that help you keep your user experience design simple are: Uniform layout Short, concise content Straightforward formatting Bullet points and brief paragraphs   3. Get Rid of Broken Links.   Nothing scares website visitors away more than broken links. Also, Google's Search Quality Rating Guidelines use broken links to analyze the quality of a site. If there are too many broken links on a single page, the website is considered to be neglected or abandoned. This can highly impact your Google Search results and lower your overall website traffic.  Investing some resources in fixing broken links is totally advisable. Below are some best practices for resolving broken links: Check Google crawl errors. Reach out to the linking website when using external links and request a fix. Avoid deep links. Replace the content at the broken URL. Redirect the broken page to a similar page on your website.   4. Optimize Your Site's Navigation.   As we already pointed out, simplicity is often key when it comes to web development. Although the easiest-to-use websites are also the ones that drive the highest organic traffic, many companies still fail to deliver easy-to-navigate websites for their audience.  How can you optimize your site's navigation? Customize your navigation menu in a simplistic way and avoid complex, confusing menu items. Put mobile site navigation first and streamline the experience for mobile devices. Create a search bar and improve your site search capabilities. Avoid dropdown menus in your website navigation. Add a mega footer.   5. Use Specific Headings.   A good UX means that visitors can easily understand your site and feel confident for the entire period they spend on it. One way you can guide your audience through your content is with clear, specific headings.  Headings can act as a roadmap for your visitors and make it easier for them to see what your content is about. With the help of specific headings, you can build a logical hierarchy and organize your content to provide a top-notch user experience.  Proper heading is also beneficial for SEO as it allows search engines to better understand the purpose of your site and the content displayed on it.    There's no secret that the customer is king and, now more than ever, businesses adopt customer-centric mindsets to keep up with the ever-changing trends. The same goes for websites of any kind. High-quality user experiences render more website traffic, raised business awareness, improved online presence, and lastly, improved conversion rates. To learn more about what it takes to deliver outstanding UX, contact Optasy and have a chat with our professional website builders.    Photo credit: XPS on Unsplash.... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jun 16'2021
The Ultimate Checklist to Becoming a Top WordPress Developer
  The myth: Becoming a successful WordPress developer is easy. The reality: Becoming a successful WordPress developer requires hard work, patience, and dedication.    Freelance developers or professionals doing development jobs in companies reap multiple benefits, and the search for experienced developers is on the rise. As the demand is growing, so is the complexity required by clients for certain development projects.  Mastering the art of managing highly complex content management systems is both challenging and rewarding. In this article, we'll have a look at WordPress development and explore a checklist for anyone who is on the journey to becoming a top WordPress developer.   First of all, what is a top WordPress developer?   Someone who does much more than watch a few tutorials on YouTube and learn to customize some themes on personal blogs. More exactly, the most skillful WordPress developers are the ones who can innovate. These professionals can turn the development process into art and push the boundaries of every WordPress development project they are involved in.    How to become a top WordPress developer   The journey to WordPress mastery is paved with multiple challenges.    Although every journey is particularly defined by a different set of obstacles, there are a few things that, if done right, can highly contribute to you becoming a top professional. Let's have a look at some of the must-does when starting a WordPress development career.   1. Begin with an intentional focus on acquiring industry knowledge. In other words, get familiar with the languages that the WordPress platform is built on and learn about the technologies that lie behind content management systems.  The four must-know programming languages used on WordPress are: PHP, which forms the backbone of WordPress and is used a lot for the backend development process. CSS, which adds some salt and pepper to your website's content style, fonts, colors, etc.  HTML, a markup language that helps with how your site will look in the browser. JavaScript, a dynamic language that you can use to craft interactive elements on your site.    You can confidently start your WordPress development journey by learning these beginner-friendly languages. In this way, you'll start with the basics, which will keep things relatively easy and won't scare you off, and at the same time, you'll actually learn useful things that any WordPress developer needs to know.    2. Make the most out of the wide variety of WordPress resources available online. As WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems available today, the amount of reading material, how-to videos, or tutorials is overwhelming. To cut through the noise and ensure you get access only to the most reliable resources, have a look at these materials: The WordPress Codex is an official resource that contains everything you need to know about WordPress functions and plugin development. It also provides useful tutorials and advice on advanced topics from the most experimented developers.  Free and premium WordPress courses that cover a wide range of topics, from general to highly specific.  WordPress blogs that talk about tips, tricks, and trends in the WordPress world.    3. Put your knowledge into practice.  After studying the main programming languages and exploring key insights from the WordPress community, it's finally time to get to the real work. At this point, you want to keep in mind that you're still learning, and you probably will throughout your entire WordPress development career.  You can start by exploring with editing existent themes and plugins, test the results, and experiment with the existing code. Then, after altering different pre-built themes and learning the ropes of handling specific code programming, you will become more confident and want to begin creating a theme or plugin from scratch.  It can be pretty challenging to develop a new theme or plugin, but it's as rewarding. This is where creativity and innovation meet. Make use of the resources we discussed above and put your knowledge in practice by experimenting with different development approaches. The WordPress Codes contains plenty of creative plugins building tutorials and themes. The Plugin Handbooks is also helpful at this point and for highly specific insights you can also check the WordPress forums. If you are interested in working to improve the platform itself, you can check out the Core Contributor Handbook, which offers essential information on how you can work with WordPress as a developer. Getting involved in the WordPress core can connect you with experienced developers and open the road for new, innovative projects.   Becoming a top WordPress developer is challenging, rewarding, and challenging. But if you commit to a career of continuous learning and adapting, you can set yourself up for success. Make sure to leverage the right resources, connect with experienced peers, and don't forget to take your creativity with you—you'll need it to build outstanding development projects.  For any questions regarding web development, design, or digital strategies, visit our site on Optasy.com.    Photo credit: AltumCode on Unsplash.   ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Jun 09'2021