Raluca Olariu

Raluca Olariu

Raluca Olariu

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7 Key Stages Every Drupal Development Project Should Contain
  Drupal is a content management system that has been around for more than 10 years. The first version of the CMS was released in 2003, and since then it has grown to become one of the most popular open-source applications on the web today. Drupal is used by many different types of businesses, including small business owners who want to create their own website or blog, as well as large corporations looking to build a robust online presence. Our development team at Optasy has helped hundreds of clients with their Drupal projects over the past few years. In this article, we will go through each stage of our Drupal development process and provide you with some insight into what makes each phase unique.     What makes Drupal a popular choice? Drupal provides plenty of user and business benefits that can transform any web development project into a successful one. Some of those benefits are: Flexibility. Drupal is flexible enough to be used by small businesses or large corporations alike. It’s also easy to customize the CMS to fit your needs. Scalability. The platform supports thousands of users, making it perfect for eCommerce sites with lots of traffic. High customization. You can easily scale Drupal websites to match specific needs and traffic fluctuations.  Security. Drupal offers multiple security features that make it an ideal solution for government agencies and other organizations that need to protect sensitive information. Large community. There are over 1 million active members in the Drupal community, which means you have access to tons of support when you run into problems.     How do you know if your Drupal development project is successful? With the right insights or a team of Drupal experts by your side, your future website will: be feature-rich, which means it’s more likely to be used by your target audience. have an intuitive user and digital experience that allows visitors to easily find what they need without having to go through multiple pages. be mobile responsive, which will make your site look and function properly on any device. include rich media. This means that you can add video, audio, and other multimedia elements to your site with ease. be optimized for enterprise-level security. ship with a granular user management system tailored to your organization's specific needs when it comes to custom workflows. be "loaded" with custom Drupal modules to fit unique functionality needs. leverage an enhanced content management system; where content gets found, filtered — and, therefore, perfectly structured —  with utmost ease. be conveniently modular and extensible.   7 Key Stages of Successful Drupal Development Projects Drupal development projects are complex, but with the right insights or a team of experts to guide you through each stage of the project, you can be successful.  Let's have a look at seven essential steps that Optasy includes in every Drupal project created. 1. Identify the needs of your business. The first step is to identify what you want your website to achieve. You need to know why you’re building it in the first place so you can create a strong digital strategy. Our Drupal experts will ask questions like: What do you hope to get out of it? Who will use it? What problems does it solve for them? How much time will they spend on it? These questions help the development team understand how your site fits into your overall marketing strategy. 2. Create a vision for your website. Once we know who your audience is and what you want to accomplish, it’s time to create a clear picture of what that looks like. A good way to start is by creating a graphic design and representation of your brand identity and deciding which way to go with the infrastructure management. This helps us define the colors, fonts, and other elements that make up your brand. It also gives an opportunity to think about how your site might fit into your overall marketing strategy and messaging. 3. Design an architecture that works. Your website has many moving parts—from the navigation menu to the contact form. Each part must work together to provide users with a seamless experience. That means choosing which features to include and which ones to leave behind. For example, if you don’t want to offer live chat support, then don’t add it to your site. If you decide to include social media sharing buttons, then make sure those buttons are easy to find so visitors can share your content easily. 4. Deploy the development process. If your site is designed properly, there shouldn’t be any surprises when it goes live. But even the best-designed sites sometimes encounter unexpected challenges during deployment. To avoid these issues, we are using a staging environment before launching your site.  5. Migrate your content carefully. Migrating your content from one platform to another may come with some unexpected issues. In fact, migrating your data isn’t always straightforward. There are several different ways to move content between platforms. Some methods require manual intervention, while others automate the process. Regardless of which method it is chosen, we highly rely on testing the migration process thoroughly. 6. Optimize for search engines. Search engine optimization is an important aspect of any web presence. Without a proper SEO strategy, your site won’t rank high enough in search results. And without traffic, you won’t see any return on investment. So, we put a lot of emphasis on optimizing your website to have a high ranking on SERPs. 7. Test and plan your QA strategy. As your website is being built, testing it is imperative. Tools such as Google Analytics can monitor visitor activity and track conversion rates. Once you’ve reached your goals, it’s important to continue monitoring your analytics to ensure that everything continues working smoothly. Regarding the QA strategy, the following are important: Having a dedicated QA team member responsible for testing your site. Setting up automated tests to check functionality and usability. Creating a list of bugs and prioritizing them based on severity. That's it! We've walked you through Optasy's Drupal development stages so you can gain a clearer picture of how our team of Drupal experts can support your web development journey. Contact us now and let's start building your website.   Photo credit: Unsplash.... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Dec 21'2021
Drupal for enterprise. Is it suitable for your company?
  Drupal is a free and open-source content management system, and one of the most popular CMSs used by big companies in North America. It has been around since 2004 and it’s still growing fast. Drupal is an excellent digital solution if you want to build a website that can grow with your business. Drupal enterprise is built on top of Drupal core, which means that all features are available in both versions. The difference between them is that the enterprise version comes with additional modules and themes. If you need more functionality than what is included in the standard version, then you should consider using the enterprise version. If you want to use Drupal for big companies, then you should look into the enterprise version. This allows you to create a custom theme or module for your company logo, colors, etc.         Why CTOs of Big Companies Choose Drupal? Drupal has been adopted by some of the biggest names in technology. Here are just a few examples: Yahoo! - Yahoo uses Drupal to deliver its email service, Flickr photo-sharing service, and many other products. The New York Times - The New York Times uses Drupal to publish its news stories online. Facebook - Facebook uses Drupal to manage its social network. Twitter - Twitter uses Drupal to manage its microblogging service. LinkedIn - LinkedIn uses Drupal to manage its professional networking service.  Salesforce - Salesforce uses Drupal to run its CRM product. Why are these big companies choosing Drupal? Let's look at some of the top benefits of Drupal for enterprises.   Key Benefits of Drupal Enterprise   When used for big companies, Drupal can provide competitive advantages like: Delivering robust digital experiences on multiple channels and devices. You can use the same codebase to build responsive web pages, mobile apps, native Android and iOS apps, and even standalone desktop applications. Building experiences that combine the power of Drupal’s robust backend with front-end rendering using the tools developers feel will work best for customers. Providing robust development tools and environments for developing Drupal-based experiences. These make it easier for digital teams to rapidly begin building Drupal-based web applications. Offering a future-proofed digital express platform which ensures that your marketing technologies can be adapted to changes in the digital environment and emerging technologies, channels, and devices Acquia's Drupal Platform is built on top of the most popular content management system available today. With the help of Acquia Cloud, you can easily scale your site as your business grows. You'll also get access to a wide range of premium services, including managed hosting, performance monitoring, security updates, infrastructure management, etc. With a few clicks, you can create personalized versions of your site's home page that are highly optimized for top ranking on search engines. What is more, you can also make changes to pages as visitors navigate around your website.     Why the Drupal Enterprise Needs Acquia? If you're looking for an easy way to deploy a new project, Acquia offers a complete solution for managing all aspects of your Drupal deployment from planning through production. And if you need to add features or fix bugs, we have a team of experts ready to assist you. We are one of the most reliable Drupal service providers on the market and we want to ensure that you get the right support when you need it. That means providing you with everything you need to get started quickly and efficiently. Our expert consultants are always available to answer questions about how to get the most out of our solution.       How to Use Drupal Enterprise As an enterprise solution, you need to have a good understanding of how your business works, what problems you face, and how you want to solve them. You should also know how your organization uses IT resources, including people, time, money, and other resources. Before you start working with Acquia, you may want to talk with someone who has experience working with enterprises, such as a CIO, a Chief Marketing Officer, or another senior executive at your company. This person could serve as a mentor, helping you understand how to leverage Acquia to meet your needs. The following are some tips to consider when planning your deployment: Know your data. Before you deploy Drupal, you must first determine whether your data is stored locally or remotely. If your data is stored remotely, you might need to set up a secure connection between your local computer and the remote server where your data resides. Understand your budget. It's important to know how much money you're willing to spend before you buy Drupal. Depending on your current technology stack, you might be able to find free solutions. However, if you don't have a lot of money, you might need to evaluate alternative options. For example, you might choose to migrate your existing application to Drupal instead of buying new software. Know your timeline. When deciding how long it takes to implement a project, keep these factors in mind: Your team size (the larger your team, the longer it generally takes to complete a project), your skills (some projects take less time than others because they require fewer skills. For example, if you already have a custom database schema, you won't need to learn how to build one from scratch.), your expertise (some projects take less than others because you've done similar things before). Learn about Drupal. To ensure that you fully understand Drupal, you should read the documentation, attend training classes, and ask questions. You should also work closely with a Drupal expert during the implementation process. Is Drupal the Right Choice for Your Intranet? Drupal can help you create an engaging user experience by providing content that is relevant to users' interests. By using features like views, blocks, and dynamic menus, you can easily organize information into specific areas of your site. In addition, Drupal offers many modules that allow you to customize your site to fit your unique needs. If you’re looking for a platform to support your internal communications, then Drupal is a great option. With its robust feature set, Drupal provides a variety of tools to help you manage your content effectively. Whether you’re looking to provide employees with a way to share ideas internally, or you’re looking at ways to improve customer service, Drupal can help. Conclusion  The key to choosing the right CMS for your organization is understanding what you want out of your website and how your business will use it. This guide has provided some insight into each type of CMS so you can make an informed decision when selecting which solution best fits your needs and supports your open-source project. What are your experiences with different types of CMSs? Share them below!     Photo credit: Unsplash.... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Dec 14'2021
The Benefits Of Interactive Websites and How to Create Them
  Today, the digital world is getting increasingly competitive. To stay relevant, you need to build personalized user experiences and engage your audience in a meaningful way. What makes a website interactive? An interactive website is one that communicates efficiently and provides interactive web user experiences. It can be used to create an online presence for your business, or it could also be used as part of the marketing strategy for your company. The main goal of any website should always be to provide users with the information they need in order to make informed decisions about their purchases. This means providing them with all relevant information on products and services offered by you and/or your competitors. An effective way to do this would be through the use of graphics, videos, animations, etc., which are known collectively as "web 2.0" technologies. These types of websites allow users to interact directly with content without having to navigate away from the page first. They're often referred to as being more engaging than traditional static sites because they encourage interaction between visitors and the site's owner. In addition, these types of websites tend to have higher conversion rates compared to other forms of advertising. The Benefits of Creating Interactive Websites Interactivity is a key element in the success of any website. It can be as simple as adding an interactive map to your business directory, or it could involve creating a complex database-driven application that allows users to search for products and services by category, price range, location, etc. The main benefits of interactive websites are: Increased engagement. Users will spend longer periods of time browsing your site if there are multiple ways for them to engage with what they see. For example, if you offer a product comparison tool, then people who want to compare prices may find themselves spending hours looking at different options before making a purchase decision. Higher conversions. People like interacting with things that interest them. If you've ever been to a museum, you know how much fun it is to look around exhibits and learn new facts while doing so. You'll probably end up buying something after visiting such places. So why not take advantage of this fact when designing your own website? More targeted traffic. When someone visits your website, they have already made some sort of connection with you. By offering them additional opportunities to connect with you further, you increase the chances of converting that visitor into a customer. Better SEO rankings. Search engines prefer websites that contain lots of valuable data. An interactive website gives you many more opportunities to include keywords within its pages, thus improving your ranking in searches related to those terms. Better user experience (UX). A good UX makes life easier for both customers and employees. Customers might not mind navigating complicated interfaces; however, they hate slow ones. Employees dislike working with systems that require too much training. Both groups appreciate easy navigation and intuitive designs.   How to make your website interactive There is a wide variety of tools and website features available today that help you build interactive websites. The most popular elements and features for making websites interactive are: Simple software tools that relate to your business like tax calculators, quizzes, or surveys. These types of applications allow visitors to interact directly with your content without having to leave your page. They also provide valuable feedback about your audience's interests and preferences. An eCommerce solution that integrates payment processing, shipping, inventory management, order tracking, and other functions needed to run a successful online store. Social media widgets that let you embed social sharing buttons on your website. This lets your audience share information about your company via their favorite networks. Videos on web pages make great examples of how to create interactive websites. The best part about using videos is that it doesn't need to be fancy -- just get creative! Visual designs tend to attract and engage more users. User-generated content can add value to any type of site. It helps people feel connected to what you're saying by giving them an opportunity to contribute ideas and opinions. A blog allows users to comment on posts as well as read others' comments. Blogs often have polls where readers vote on topics. Interactivity isn't limited to these five categories. There are plenty of ways to incorporate interaction into your website. For instance, if you sell products, you could offer free samples so that potential buyers can try them before buying. If you want to promote your brand, you could ask followers to submit photos of themselves wearing your product. You could even use Twitter hashtags to encourage conversation around certain subjects. You can get creative when it comes to interactive content on your site and use the following interactive elements that, as simple as they might look, can engage more users: Google Maps is a very useful interactive element to introduce on your site because it helps users save time and energy. Live polling gives users the ability to respond in real-time to questions asked through live chat. Search functionalities that make the user navigation more straightforward and effective. Feedback forms give users the chance to express their opinion about something specific and offer a feeling of connection with the brand. Making your website interactive strongly supports your digital marketing efforts An interactive website design and functionality can significantly improve the customer experience, which will most likely increase engagement among your target audiences. Your digital marketing strategies can greatly benefit from an interactive design layout and functionality. According to a study, "the average person spends more than two hours per day consuming digital media." An interactive website design and functionality give businesses the chance to engage with consumers at all times. How interactive elements affect SEO The more interactive experiences you provide on your website, the better they'll perform when it comes to search engine optimization. In fact, Google has stated that sites with rich user interactions tend to rank higher in its results pages. Google uses many signals to determine whether a webpage should appear high up in its rankings. One of those factors includes how much attention users pay to each element on a given page. For example, if someone clicks on one particular link within a post, then this action indicates interest in that specific topic. Therefore, engaging your audience as much as possible through interactive features and elements will help boost your organic traffic and help you rank higher on SERPs. Interactive websites as part of a strong online presence Successful modern businesses provide valuable interactive website examples as they leverage the potential of interactive websites to create stronger connections between customers and companies. They understand the power that lies behind creating a positive impression on visitors by providing them with relevant information and making sure they feel valued. What tools or features do you use to make your website more interactive?   Photo credit: John Schnobrich on Unsplash. ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Oct 13'2021
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 with 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 in building websites and web apps that are compliant with the latest Canadian accessibility laws, we are happy to help with proactive Drupal support for your development projects. 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 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. Also, you can check our Drupal Maintenance services as well.    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