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How CentOS Became 2020’s Final Victim

If you were paying close attention to your IT department around the 8th of December, you might have heard some quiet sobbing and the occasional wail of, “Why? Why?! WHY?!” Now, it was the year 2020, so this might have seemed normal to you, but it’s actually something of a problem that could affect your business: CentOS is pretty much dead.

For the non-total-nerds among us, here’s the skinny: CentOS is a Linux-based operating system, typically used on servers. CentOS has been incredibly popular, and quite a few businesses run on it. But now, that’s changing.

CentOS is a Linux-based operating system, typically used on servers…But now, that’s changing

CentOS used to be released in thoroughly tested versions, the latest being CentOS 8. CentOS 8 was released in September of 2019 and was supposed to be supported for ten years. Now, it’s been decided that CentOS will no longer have versioned releases, opting for a rolling-release style of updates. That means there’ll be one version that constantly gets new software.

That’s cool in theory, but it means the operating system will be less stable overall. Essentially, it’s going to be used as a development branch of / testing ground for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and is no longer its own OS. If you have CentOS-based servers, you should migrate to another OS sooner rather than later.

And I just got my own CentOS-based VPS set up the way I wanted it.

Wait, What Does Red Hat Have To Do With This?

Here’s the short, short version of the history of CentOS: Red Hat (an OS developer) has two Linux distributions of its own and has had for a long time. There’s the free and community-focused Fedora and the business-focused highly expensive Red Hat Enterprise Linux (AKA RHEL).

Funny story: RHEL, despite its expensive licenses, is still mostly made from open source code, which anyone can access and use. And it’s a good OS, particularly for people who like stability.

In 2004, some smart people took all the open-source parts of RHEL and made a brand new, nearly identical operating system with it: the Community Enterprise Operating System, or CentOS. Basically, people could download and use an enterprise-level server OS for free. All the documentation for RHEL was compatible, and you could get support from the community.

It was the perfect alternative for anyone who didn’t have the budget for expensive software licenses.

In 2014, Red Hat offered to partner with the CentOS community. The idea was basically this: “It’s pretty much the same software. If our company and your community work together, both our products will be better! We make our money from enterprise customers, anyway.”

Most importantly, with Red Hat doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of updates and support, the CentOS community could focus on growing in other ways.

Red Hat pinky swore [citation needed] that they were in this for the long haul, and CentOS did continue to flourish. You know, until 2020.

Well, So Much For Pinky Swearing

Red Hat must have eventually decided that having a popular free version of its own enterprise software and managing it themselves no less — wasn’t that good for business. So they all but shut the project down.

Well, technically, they just changed how it operated. Instead of producing tested, production-ready versions, CentOS is merely a testing ground for RHEL. It is no longer, in my opinion, a good option for anyone who wants to run a stable server.

Current and Future CentOS Alternatives

So if you jumped on the CentOS 8 bandwagon, what should you put on your physical and virtual servers now? Well, you’ve got options.

Debian / Ubuntu

For those who don’t mind going to a very different kind of Linux, Debian has been the picture of OS stability and sysadmin-friendliness for a long time. If you want more frequent software updates, the Debian-based Ubuntu Server is popular and pretty good.

Oracle Linux

Yes, that Oracle has a RHEL-compatible Linux distribution of its own. But it’s not a clone, exactly. I mean, this is Oracle. It’s set up to use their tools and ecosystem, so I hope you like Oracle products. But hey, the OS itself is free!

ClearOS

ClearOS is another RHEL-compatible OS that’s mostly doing its own thing, though I’m not entirely sure what that thing is. Does the company have some deal with Hewlett-Packard? Anyway, they do have a free community edition and paid editions for home and business use.

The CloudLinux RHEL Fork

This is an upcoming release from the makers of CloudLinuxOS. It looks like they intend to load the new RHEL-based OS with some of their own tools, such as reboot-less server update tech. The first release is intended to be a more or less drop-in replacement for CentOS 8.

Rocky Linux

So the community that made and loved CentOS in the first place is, to say the least, ticked. They are so ticked that Greg Kurtzer (a co-founder of CentOS) has decided to do it all over again by making Rocky Linux and keep it in the community this time.

Again, the goal is to make a re-build of RHEL, a drop-in replacement for CentOS (at least for now). Eventually, the goal is to migrate from CentOS to Rocky Linux as easy as using a single, one-line command. The ETA for initial release isn’t quite set in stone, but I can personally vouch for how hard the community is working.

[See, full disclosure here… after writing this article, I joined the Rocky Linux documentation team.]

So Yeah, You Have Options

Some are out now, and others will be soon. Again, CentOS 8 will be supported until the end of 2021. CentOS 7, weirdly, will be supported until June 2024.

Migration shouldn’t be too complicated. Still, a pain in the rear that we have to do this at all, though.

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The post How CentOS Became 2020’s Final Victim first appeared on Webdesigner Depot.


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3 Essential Design Trends, January 2021

Don’t drop the ball on these website design trends for the new year. All of the trends featured here this month are visual in nature – not as many user interface elements as previous months, but all just as stunning and usable.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month.

1. 3D Scenes on White (Light)

Three-dimensional scenes are not just a trend this month but are likely to be one of the biggest website design trends that you see all year.

They offer a great way to show off product imagery, design something with illustrations or animation for visual impact, and provide usability and understandability cues for users.

It’s a versatile technique that can work with real or created images and are also “COVID-friendly,” something designers have had to think a lot about in the past few months. (Appropriate imagery in design is a real concern, as is trying to design projects without the ability to produce traditional photoshoots.)

What’s neat about all of these projects – and plenty of others – is that they root the design in white or light backgrounds. The light effect creates an easier visual mood that’s clean and emphasizes the imagery.

This website design trend solves a lot of those problems and looks good doing it.

Google’s Cloud design uses 3D illustrated animation on a white background with plenty of depth elements. The primary color palette of illustrated objects pulls it all together and guides the eye through each of the callout labels.

The red words on the screen Crystal Pure fit perfectly with the white-on-white 3D imagery of this design. Red accents pull you into different places on the screen, and it all has a clean feel.

Hofmann & Hofmann uses the same concept with a slightly different approach. The background is still light with a realistic feel and 3D objects, but it is a lot less stark and white. The feel is a little warmer and more inviting than a flat white aesthetic.

 

 

2. So Many Stacked Capitals

If you don’t have great artwork or imagery, make your own with typography.

This trend seems like it might be yelling at you just a little, but it still works for the most part — well, as long as you don’t land on too many of these website designs in a row!

What’s interesting about this trend is that many of the designs feature all caps type and serifs. These styles have been making a bit of a comeback, but this use is interesting for many reasons.

The hardest part when using all caps is maintaining readability. That’s why you see some variances in regular, italics, and bold weights, as well as the use of multiple typefaces. The goal is to create a good reading flow with a stunning visual presence.

This trend works best when you have “easy” words on the screen to facilitate scanning. Too many long or complicated letter combinations can get challenging quickly.

Make sure to look for the Easter eggs in each of these projects:

Emotion Agency has tiny “waving” illustrations next to each word (which doubles as the navigation) when you hover over them.

Mill3 Studio has a few animations, from the text flying in and out on load and scroll to subtle movements in the emojis.

Bizarro has this fun little cat video with a tiny warning not to hover over it, but you definitely should.

 

 

3. Empty Places

The final trend in this roundup is a stark reminder of current times. Each of the website design features empty places or locations.

This style of imagery would have been avoided pre-pandemic because tourism locations would want visitors to feel like a part of a bustling environment. Not today. If you travel, chances are you may feel safer or want to be in a more secluded environment.

All of the images and videos from these locations show just that.

Designers are doing this with new stark imagery that stands alone for the design or inserting a few empty place frames into video clips or among images that show more populated times. Even scenes that contain people show very few people and focus on more solitary activities.

Paragon Oak does this by showing a beautifully lit location at night. Note that using a nighttime photo eliminates questions about where the people are or what they are doing. (This is a clever option when showing imagery of an empty place.)

Vienne to Paris shows boats on the water with a beautiful background. While you assume there are people on the water vessels; you don’t see them and get the feeling that everyone is separated in their own “pod,” a pandemic-friendly option for travel.

The Maryculter House shows various images without people – the resort’s location on beautiful grounds; empty, but immaculate rooms, and a few images of a person alone on the grounds. Again, the empty nature of the place feels more appropriately welcome for the time we live in.

 

 

 

Conclusion

One of the things that we’ve seen with design trends in the past year is pandemic-related. The composition of images to the way elements are arranged on the screen influences every aspect of our lives.

While the empty place image and video trend is big now, it may fade post-pandemic. Although, it could still be relevant for quite some time. It will be interesting to see what happens as the year progresses with this trend – will it hold on or fade away?

These trends might continue to hold well into 2021.

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3 Easy Ways to Use Emotion in Web Design

As human beings, we like to think that we’re rational creatures.

We tell ourselves that we make our decisions based on fact and logic. However, that’s rarely the full truth. As much as we try to make choices guided by rationality, the truth is that we’re often highly emotional people, driven by the way that things make us feel.

So, what does that mean for a website designer?

Though designing a functional and logical website is important, it’s crucial not to forget about the emotional impact of each interaction that your customer has with the sites that you build.

Sites that don’t elicit any kind of emotional response aren’t just boring; they’re forgettable.

A forgettable website is poison to any website designer’s portfolio.

That’s why we’re going to introduce you to some easy ways to use emotion in your designs this year.

Getting to the Bottom of Emotion in Web Design

First, you need to understand the part that emotion plays in user decisions.

Don Norman’s book Emotional Design says that there are many things that designers can do to make their designs more emotional. Even something as simple as focusing on the aesthetic impact of your website can make it more likely that you’ll reach your audience on an emotional level.

One important thing to remember about emotional design, is that it’s not just about making your customers feel good. Emotion can be both positive and negative. Sometimes negative emotion is more impactful than positive feelings – it all depends on the kind of site you’re trying to create.

A website selling health products to customers needs to make that audience feel comfortable and confident that they’re buying a trustworthy item. However, it may also need to trigger small feelings of worry or concern in the audience about what might happen if they don’t buy.

Knowing how to walk that balance between positive and negative feelings is how a designer takes a simple website design and turns it into something incredible.

So, where do you get started?

Step 1: Use Visual Elements to Trigger Emotion

Visual elements are one of the easiest points to get started with when you’re designing for emotion. That’s because visuals are fantastic at drawing out feelings.

An animation can create an emotional connection with your audience by helping them to understand how your product works or making them laugh when they land on your page. A genuine photograph of your team working together can inspire trust and feelings of affinity.

One of the most common visual elements used to trigger emotion is color.

Shades like blue and green in the digital design world are more likely to drive feelings of calmness and comfort. On the other hand, red and yellow often encourage feelings of enthusiasm and happiness.

The way that you use color can make a massive difference to how users feel when they arrive on a website. For instance, the Barclay’s website would have been pretty boring if it was just a basic black and white screen. However, a banking site can’t afford to go over the top with animations or illustrations in most cases, as this can detract from its professional image.

Adding small patches of blue in a way that complements the brand’s color palette is a great way to generate feelings of trust. Combined with the image of a genuine real-life person, and calm tones, the bank instantly presents itself as something approachable and honest.

At the same time, the clear hierarchical layout of the bank’s website, with an easy-to-follow navigation bar, easy-to-read font, and clear headings and buttons comfort the customer. Users get exactly what they expect when they come to a financial website, and that makes users feel as though they’re in the right place.

Step 2: Create Engaging and Emotional Interactions

Visual elements are a great way to embed emotion into digital design. However, they’re just the first step. The emotional aspects of your web design choices should also appear throughout the interactions that customers have with the website.

A good interaction on a website or app needs to be simple and straightforward enough that users feel comfortable taking the next step in their journey. However, it also needs to drive the right emotional response from users too.

For instance, when you sign up for a free account trial from Box.com, you don’t just get a form full of information that you need to fill out.

Next to the form, you also get information about what you’re signing up for, complete with small checks next to each of the free features you’re getting. This helps to put the customer’s mind at ease and remind them that they’re in the right place.

The use of a box, including discount information next to the sign-up form also helps to make the interaction more emotional, by reminding customers that they’re getting something for free.

Every time a customer interacts with a website, there’s another opportunity to engage them on an emotional level. On the Firebox website, when a customer adds something to their cart, there’s a small animation on the cart icon that informs them that something is waiting for them.

When they click through to the checkout, they get instant information, including what they can do to “gift wrap” their item, and buttons showing the various payment options available.

Whenever you’re designing a page for a website, whether it’s the checkout page, a product page, or something else entirely, think about the interaction that the visitor is having at that moment. How can you ensure that each customer feels more comfortable, delighted, informed, or engaged?

Step 3: Leverage Microcopy and Detail to Express Emotions

Visuals are an excellent way to express emotions.

However, they’re not the only option.

As a designer, you’ll need to think about how you can combine web design with the use of microcopy to connect with customers on a deeper level.

Rather than drawing attention to tedious, dull, or impersonal instructions, notifications, and error messages on a site, how you can you make sure that everything on the website delivers the same emotional impact?

The simple addition of a tiny illustration is enough to provide a much more emotional experience to customers. Compelling micro copy and illustrations on 404 pages can also strengthen the connections that customers have with the sites they visit.

Just look at how Google added a dinosaur game to the page that customers are sent to when they don’t have an internet connection.

The right micro copy and interactions can instantly transform even a negative experience, like not being able to connect to the internet, into something emotionally engaging and positive.

When it comes to making an emotional connection between your customer and their end users, web designers need to remember that often the smallest details can make the biggest differences. Little extra features, like implementing a way for customers to have fun when their internet connections aren’t working, are the things that make websites more memorable from an emotional perspective.

Don’t Choose Emotion Over Functionality

Although emotional impact can be an essential aspect of a fantastic website design, it’s important not to get carried away. Adding too much to a website in the form of little extra graphics and unique interactions could end up weighing down a site and making it slow to load.

Although it’s valuable to think about how every interaction an end-user has with a website will make them feel, it’s important not to overlook the basics of web design when you’re at it. You’ll still need to ensure that the finishing design is easy to use, engaging, and attractive.

Pay attention to the basics of user experience design, and make sure that the extra emotional elements you’re infusing into your sites aren’t going to damage the experience that end-users get.

If you can get the blend right between emotional impact and functionality, then you could create the kind of website that audiences will never forget.

It pays to implement emotion into your design portfolio.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

How to Make Hyper-Personalization in Web Design Work For You

Personalization; it’s probably one of the most important design trends to emerge in recent years. 

As consumers in all industries become more demanding, they’re increasingly searching for online experiences that are customized to suit their individual needs and expectations

Today, personalization exists in virtually every digital interaction, from adverts on social media to PPC campaigns and email marketing efforts. 

Used correctly, the manipulation of demographic, behavioral, and other in-depth user-data can help designers to create dynamic, highly customized content for each website user. At the same time, these unique websites ensure that designers really make an impact on behalf of their clients, outshining the competition and driving amazing results. 

What is Hyper-Personalization?

Basic personalization in web design involves making changes to a design based on what you know about your client’s target audience. 

For instance, if you knew that you were designing for an audience that spends more time on their smartphone than their computer, you’d concentrate on building hyper-responsive experiences for small screens. For instance, the Canals-Amsterdam.nl website is specifically designed to support people using smartphones to swipe, tap, and scroll.

If you’re aware that your customer’s target market is other businesses, you might put more testimonials, free demo CTAs and other enticing components on the website to encourage investment. 

Hyper-Personalization is an emerging trend for 2020 that focuses on going beyond the basic understanding of a target audience, to look at genuine customer data. Hyper-personalization is all about leveraging in-depth omnichannel data to drive more advanced customer experiences on every page of a website. 

For hyper-personalization to be genuinely effective, designers need access to virtually unlimited data, from CMS systems, sales teams, marketing experts, and more. When you have that data handy, you can use it to:

  • Design websites that showcase dynamic CTAs, featuring content relevant to each user;
  • Implement sign-in screens for customers vs. demo requests for new leads on home pages;
  • Showcase products similar to past pages when repeat customers return to a site.

Why is Hyper-Personalization Important?

Personalized experiences have always been important to the sales journey. 

However, in an era where companies are constantly competing to grab user attention, you can’t just cater to your site designs to a group of people anymore. Increasingly, users are expecting specific interactive moments on websites, made just for them. 

Amazon is an obvious example to consider here. As one of the world’s leading online shopping sites, Amazon’s efforts with website personalization are incredible. The Amazon website uses tools integrated into the back-end of the marketplace to watch everything a customer does on its platform.

As users browse through the website, the site jots down each category that you look at, and which items interest you. Thanks to this, Amazon can suggest which products you may be most interested in. 

Websites like Madebyhusk also offer an incredible insight into hyper-personalization, allowing users to browse for the products that appeal to them based on in-depth filters like edging and color.

The result is a higher chance of conversion.

When customers feel as though they have complete control over their buyer journey, and that each step on that journey is tailored to them, they’re more likely to buy. 

Better Converting CTAs

A call to action is an excellent way to move things along when you’re encouraging the buying process with your target audience. 

Used correctly, your CTAs can encourage more than just cart conversions. They can also convince people to sign up for your newsletter via a subscription form, take a survey, or begin a free demo. 

Regardless of the CTAs that you choose to implement, personalization will quickly make your requests more effective. According to studies, CTAs that are personalized are 202% more effective than generic alternatives. 

For instance, Byhumankind.com uses a crucial statement: “Great personal care products don’t have to come at earth’s expense.” Followed by an engaging CTA to drive positive action from their audience. The company knows that they’re appealing to a customer interested in saving the planet, so they make the benefits of “Getting Started” obvious immediately.

Using data provided by clients, designers can figure out exactly how to position CTAs and offers for customers. For instance, notice that Humankind has a green colored CTA button.

Most buttons take advantage of bold colors like red and orange, but the green shade for Humankind further highlights the nature-driven personality of the brand. 

Relevant Product Recommendations

Repeat customers are infinitely more valuable than people who purchase just one item from your site.

However, convincing a standard customer to become a repeat client isn’t easy. Sometimes, clients need a push to determine what they want to buy next.

Fortunately, as a website designer, you can help with that. Using dynamic modules in the product pages of your customer’s website, you can show individual end-users what they might want to purchase next from a specific brand.

These dynamic modules can use information about what each customer has purchased in the past, to suggest a new product or service. Amazon do particularly well in this regard, leveraging a vast marketplace and treasure trove of information to make quality recommendations. But you don’t need to be designing a considerable website for a global business like Amazon to take advantage of dynamic suggestions. Any business with a focus on hyper-personalization can benefit from this strategy.

Increased Time on Site

Any form of personalization on a website can significantly improve the amount of time a customer spends in that digital environment. 

Imagine walking into a restaurant that seems as though it was designed specifically for you. The décor, the seating arrangements, and even the menu are customized to your taste. You’re more likely to spend your time and money there than on any generic food place you find on the street. 

The same rules apply to website design. The more hyper-personalized you can get with your client’s design, based on what you know about their customers, the easier it will be to keep customers engaged. 

For instance, the WarnerMusic.no website entices visitors with various high-quality images of popular bands and artists, before providing them with endless information about the brand and what it does. The designer of this site knew that it needed to appeal to the visual demands of the audience first, before offering useful information like featured artist lists, News, and blog posts to keep the users on site. 

Hyper personalization is all about figuring out what kind of end-user you’re designing for, so you can build the digital environment that’s more engaging and compelling to them. Some designers even create dynamic pages that change depending on whether a customer is a repeat client or a new visitor. 

Improved Loyalty and Affinity

Finally, it’s human nature that we all want to spend time with the people that treat us best.

We all value excellent customer service, which is why customer experience is the most significant differentiating factor for any organization today. 

Web-based personalization works in a similar way. When you use your design tools to make the site experience that you give to each visitor warm, individualized, and welcoming, then your clients are sure to see a boost in customer loyalty. 

Around 79% of consumers say that they’ll only consider buying from brands that care about them. As a designer, you can convince every website visitor that they’re going to get the experience they deserve. Just look at how TheHappyHero.com instantly lets clients know that they can expect a fun and friendly interaction on every page.

Accessing useful data from the companies that you’re working with before you begin developing and designing a website could be the key to creating happier customers and higher conversions. 

The more delighted end-users are with the experience that a website gives them, the happier that your client will be with you – increasing the impact of your design portfolio. 

If you can create customer loyalty and affinity for your client, then you will be able to develop the same feelings between yourself and your client. This could mean that you earn more recommendations as a designer and build your position as a leader in the industry. 

Hyper-Personalization is Crucial for 2021

As companies continue to worry about how they can safely use data without crossing the line when it comes to customer privacy, hyper-personalization has stayed just out of the mainstream. While it may be a while before we see every website designer starting their process with piles of in-depth data, it seems that we are heading in that direction. 

Customers in 2021 and beyond will undoubtedly want a more advanced and customized experience from the brands that they interact with – particularly in an era where it’s becoming much easier to deliver meaningful moments online.

 

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

How to Design a Contact Page That Drives Engagement

How can your customer reach you? If a client arrives on your website after searching on Google, what can they do to take the next step in a relationship with your brand, without buying anything?

One of the primary aims of any website is to drive conversions. However, it usually takes between 5 and 8 touchpoints to generate a viable sales lead. People don’t want to convert straight away.

Since building a relationship with customers is crucial to success, it makes sense that the contact page would be an essential part of driving results. Unfortunately, a lot of website owners pay virtually no attention to that page. They ask their designer to create a page with their address and phone number on – and that’s it.

What many business owners don’t realize, is that the contact page is the door to deeper, more lucrative relationships with potential prospects. The design of this essential website element needs to be fantastic to drive results.

So, where do you start?

Defining a Well-Designed Contact Page

Let’s start with the basics, what makes a great contact page?

The complete answer to that question depends on the target audience. Some customers will want to see fun and friendly contact pages, complete with social media sharing buttons. Others will want to see a map that shows them exactly how to reach an office or business.

There are a few golden rules to keep in mind, of course. Contact pages should be:

  • Easy to find: Don’t hide the link to the contact page on the website footer. Make it easy for customers to find out how they can get in touch.
  • Simple: Don’t put too much content on this page or it will overwhelm your audience. Just let them know where they can go to get answers to various questions.
  • Professional: Even if you have a friendly brand personality, your contact form still needs to be grammatically correct and well-designed to show a professional edge.
  • Convenient: Make your phone number clickable so customers can use it on Skype. The same can apply for your email address. Provide easy access to social media profiles, and if you have a contact form – keep it short and sweet.
  • Informative: Include all of your contact information in the same place. This may include your address, a map to your location, social media pages, email addresses, and even forums.
  • Accurate: Ensure that the information on your contact page matches the information listed elsewhere. Check directories and Google my Business listings to be sure.
  • Attractive: Yes, a contact page needs to look good too. Plenty of white space will make essential information stand out. A good layout will guide the eye through the page.
  • Consistent: Make sure the contact form on your website matches the brand personality that appears on all of your other pages.

Take a look at the Tune Contact page:

It’s beautifully laid out, with clear information that’s easy to read. The company shows exactly why customers might want to get in touch and how they can reach out. As you scroll through the page, you’ll find additional office locations, email addresses for different teams (sales and support), and links to social media accounts too.

How to Drive Engagement on a Contact Us Page

A good contact page needs to look fantastic, showcase the company’s personality, and capture audience attention. However, there’s a big difference between a contact page that gets the job done, and one that convinces your audience they have to connect with you.

Here are some excellent ways to make your contact us page stand out.

Step 1: Using Color Correctly

Color and color psychology have a massive impact on user experience.

Studies constantly demonstrate the conversion powers of having the right shades on certain pages throughout your website. For instance, changing a CTA button from red to green can increase click-through rates by 27%.

However, every audience is different. The colors that drive engagement on a contact page for your company will depend on your target customer. A/B testing color palettes that match your brand personality is a good way to get started.

One interesting example of colors that make the right impact on a Contact Us page comes from Hubspot. Here, the brand maintains it’s brand color (orange), but it also introduces some new shades that convey trustworthiness and professionalism.

Blue is the most calming and credible color for any brand, The gradient that Hubspot uses here blends perfectly with its brand identity, allowing for a stunning contact page, with CTA buttons that still stand out.

Experiment with colors that can generate the right emotional response from your audience, but don’t ignore the golden rules of color in web design. You still need to showcase your brand identity, and you still need a way of making crucial information stand out.

Step 2: Humanizing the Customer Service Team

Some of the customers that arrive at a contact page are interested in your product or inspired by the potential of your service. Other customers will be looking for assistance because they’re frustrated with something or stressed out.

If you’ve ever had a problem with a product and wanted to reach out to the brand about it, you’ve probably noticed how annoying it is to find a blank contact page with nothing but an email address. The lack of effort and humanity in the contact page is enough to convince you that you probably won’t get a response.

But what if you add some happy smiling faces to the page?

Research indicates that brains are fine-tuned to recognize and appreciate human faces. Having a picture of your customer service team, or just any human being on your contact page makes you instantly more approachable. Your customers start to feel like they’re reaching out to a person – not an empty website.

Look at how engaging and personalized this contact page from Amber McCue looks:

Although you can show any human face on your contact page and potentially get results, showing your actual agents will be more likely to drive positive results. It’s a great way to showcase the authenticity and humanity of your team.

Step 3: Making it Easy to Find

A surprisingly large amount of the time, companies shove their contact information into the footer of their website, forcing customers to spend forever looking for them. However, your audience might not want to spend an age searching for your details if they’re in a hurry to get answers.

Stowing a contact page in a footer is also a problem for those visiting your website via mobile, as they might not be able to see all your footer details and links as well.

A Contact Us page doesn’t have to be a massive part of your website navigation if you don’t want it to be. However, it should be one of the first things your audience can see. Putting the information on the header of your website, or even sticking it to the top of the page as your users scroll is very helpful.

Zendesk makes it easy for customers to get in touch in multiple ways. First, the Contact section of the website is clear at the top of the page. Secondly, if you start scrolling through the Zendesk website, a “Get Help” button pops up, so you don’t have to scroll back to find assistance:

Remember, aside from making sure that your contact page appears in the right part of your website, it’s also worth ensuring that it’s easy to understand. Don’t use unusual terms like “Chat”, or “Chill with us”. Stick to tried-and-true options like Help, Contact, or Support.

Step 4: Making the Experience Relevant

There’s a reason why it’s practically impossible to find a one-size-fits-all contact page.

It’s because different customers need different things from your brand.

Some customers will be looking for the answer to a question; others will want to discuss something with your sales team. That’s why many companies are using adaptive contact pages that can change to suit the situation.

For instance, you may start by asking customers what they need help with. Zapier takes this approach with its Contact page:

By asking the client what they need straight away, Zapier can make sure that the visitor finds the right information, and the right number or email address for the appropriate agent. You can even scroll down the help page and look for something in the available help centre, using the search bar. Or you can click on View our experts to hire a Zapier pro.

Creating a dynamic and customized experience like this does a few things. First, it ensures that the customer will reach the right person to help them first-time around. This reduces the number of inappropriate calls your employees have to deal with, and the number of transfers.

Secondly, you deliver a better experience overall for your client, because they don’t have to repeat their issue to multiple people or start a massive email thread. They get the support they need immediately.

Dynamic contact pages can even save you some money and time. If clients decide to solve an issue themselves, using your resources, that’s great for your busy agents.

Step 5: Direct People to the Right Place

The central focus of your contact us page needs to be the available contact options. Centralizing the contact options on a page is an excellent way to make sure that they get the right amount of attention. Centralizing also means that your customers can spend less time searching for the contact details that they need, which is great for usability.

The Melonfree.com website uses a contact us form that’s centralized to immediately pull attention to the customer’s options for getting help.

Centralization isn’t the only way of using design principles to guide visitors on a contact page. According to Ray Hyman and Edmund Hick, increasing the number of choices on a page often increases the time it takes for people to make a decision.

When it comes to connecting with a brand, the right option for each customer will depend on the person and the situation they’re trying to overcome. For instance, a customer that needs to reset their password will probably be able to get the solution they need from an FAQ page.

On the other hand, someone who needs help using a new feature might need the guidance of a professional. To help guide customers to the right solution, Basecamp gives customers a variety of steps to follow to get the right solution fast.

The main purpose of the contact page is to help customers get the right answer with an informative form. However, there are unobtrusive alternative options available too. If all you’re looking for is a way to help yourself fix a problem, you can click on the help guides link before you ever scroll down to the form.

Step 6: Support the Contact Team Too

The best contact us pages aren’t just a great way to improve customer experience. Well-designed solutions also help the customer service team to save time and stay productive.

One of the primary metrics that companies consider when evaluating the success of a service team, is the number of replies required before an issue is resolved. However, if the initial question from a customer doesn’t contain enough information, this number often increases.

Using the design of the contact form to access the right information helps with:

  • Automatically routing people to the right team member: Companies can set up segmentation rules that automatically send certain emails to different employees based on keywords. You might have questions that go to the sales team, and separate queries that you direct straight to the customer service team.
  • Show appropriate support options and FAQs: Remember to give the audience a chance to help themselves before they reach out for extra support. Links to an FAQ page or self-service options can really reduce the pressure on a team. Some companies even add automated chatbots to the mix to help with self-service.
  • Prompt for extra context: Although not every customer will take advantage of an opportunity to add extra information to a form, some will. Adding a box to your contact form for “anything we need to know?” is a great way to generate more information. Ban.do includes a simple “question” box where customers can add as much detail as they like. An option to add screen shots or documents might be a nice touch too.

Building Your Own Contact Us Page

Every customer has their own specific set of needs. The right contact page for another business might not be the right one for you. That’s why it’s so important to take some time getting to know your customers and speaking to your support team.

When you’re planning your contact page, it helps to ask yourself some basic questions about what you want to achieve. For instance:

  • What kind of channels will our customers want to use to connect with us? Look at things like social media messaging, email, or phone calls. If you’ve got a relatively tech-savvy audience, then they might want to use things like instant messaging with chat bots too.
  • How can we direct clients to the appropriate channels in as little time as possible? Having a system in place to automatically route your customers to the right agent will reduce the time to resolution for your customers. The faster you solve problems, the better your reputation becomes.
  • What can we do to set customer expectations and build confidence before they speak to us? Designing a professional-looking contact page will increase customer confidence, while an FAQ section shows that you’re ready to answer common questions.
  • How can we showcase a unique brand personality without making the page complicated? Everything from using distinct brand colors on a contact page, to adding images and illustrations reminds customers that they’re in the right place.
  • What can we do to reduce the friction points in a customer’s path to contact? Avoid adding too many input options to a contact form and ensure that it’s easy to reach out when your clients have a problem.

Understanding exactly what your audience needs from you, and what they’re looking for when they come to your team for help reduces the effort involved for your client when they reach out for help. Remember, today’s digitally-savvy customers expect their interactions with companies to be as streamlined and simple as possible.

Make the Most of Your Contact Page

Contact pages are frequently an afterthought in the website design process. However, they’re one of the most valuable tools your company has. With a good contact page, you ensure that your customers can always reach you when they have problems. What’s more, you boost your chances of people wanting to reach out to the sales team too!

Good luck creating a contact page that encourages engagement from your target audience. Don’t forget to track your results from each design, and A/B test for optimization.

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3 Essential Design Trends, November 2020

As we turn the corner into the final part of the year, many of the new websites and redesigns that we see during much of the rest of the year tend to slow down. Many businesses are focusing on fourth quarter and holiday sales.

With that being said, there are plenty of holiday flourishes already showing up on many websites. But there are still a few trends that don’t have a holiday theme.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month.

1. Beautiful Connectivity

Web elements that merge and flow into one another can be difficult to design but the payoff is totally worthwhile. This website design trend exemplifies connected elements in a way that’s beautiful and mesmerizing.

You can accomplish it with static elements or interactivity; the common theme is that design parts enter the space of one another and merge in ways that are seamless and visually interesting.

The thing that makes it exceptionally tricky is responsiveness. To ensure that pieces work well at all sizes when they overlap or encroach on the space of one another takes a lot of planning and testing.

Here are a few examples of projects that do it well – and each one does it in a different way.

Kirk Whayman’s website uses a floating ice cube over simple lettering. The interactivity is spot on here with hover actions that allow you to move the block with the letters refracting in an expected manner. (It would be easy to play with it all day.) But the coolest interaction happens when you “break it” (click on the cube). The elements continue to merge and interact in a new and different way.

Kikk Festival uses animations and giant scrollable illustrations and plenty of elements that overlap within the space. What’s neat is that everything on this canvas seems to touch everything else. The staircase design encourages scrolling and lettering and smaller animated elements all connect to the steps in the sky motif.

Multi Options Nursing takes a totally different approach. It uses a static split screen with a photo on the right side that merges into a round graphic element. It takes two not-s-interesting images and makes something out of them. The design carries this theme below the scroll as well and this style of image presentation carries a nice visual weight without feeling heavy.

2. Almost Brutalism

Brutalism just seems to keep coming back around. For those that love this trend, it keeps evolving as well.

The latest styles of brutalism are a little less mono but still pretty sharp with harsh lines, questionable type readability, and a lot going on in a compressed space. These projects also seem to be embracing color and alternative font choices more readily.

Fledge uses a split screen – still a dominant trend two years running – with a blue that’s almost too bright with an almost white offset color. The text is big and smooshed into the space tightly. Depending on the breakpoint, you might not even get the whole phrase on the left side. The design challenge is what are you supposed to do here? There are some hover animation cues, but they aren’t very direct.

Loeven Morcel’s design has hints of brutalism and elements of elegance. What makes this design skew toward the brutal side is use of space and typography. Like the previous example, it falls into the territory of “what should I do here” with some concerns about readability. Most of these issues are resolved on the scroll if you move beyond the homepage.

Szymon Michalczyl’s site is another that is close to brutal in style but has an element of sleekness that doesn’t quite carry it over the edge. The simple framework has that brutalist feel but the use of simple, clean fonts with plenty of space pulls it back into a more mainstream design scheme.

3. Beige Everything

Is a shade of beige the color of the year for 2020? Or is it just how we all feel?

Beige backgrounds are everywhere, making this one of those design trends that you can’t miss. The good news is that designers are playing with different shades of beige as well as warm and cool variations. Beige on its own can take on some of the color from accent hues and imagery, so that’s important to keep in mind when using this in the background.

The other variable is how saturated to make beige coloring. Most designs are using some of the more muted options while mostly playing with the levels of green and red. But darker beiges are also an option.

Simon Daufresne uses a beige that is the color that comes to mind when you think beige. It’s simple, a hint reddish, and is used with black only to maintain true color.

Discovered Wildfoods uses a more neutral feeling beige with a more green undertone (or is that color feel coming from other design elements). The neutral and natural color fits the brand and association this website is trying to create.

Aebele Interiors also uses a more traditional beige but with a bold mustard accent that makes the color feel exceptionally warm. What’s nice about this color combination is that in small sizes the mustard colored-type almost falls into the beige background, but at larger sizes seems to almost jump off the screen. It’s an interesting color juxtaposition.

Conclusion

Personally, this month’s trends are a mixed bag. I love the lines and interactivity of the beautifully connected examples. It shows that elements can cross and work together well.

On the flip side, brutalism and beige just aren’t my style. But apparently, they appeal to a lot of people based on the number of projects using these styles. What do you think? I’d love to know how you feel about these trends. Let me know on Twitter.

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AccessiBe Review 2020: Solving Web Accessibility with AI and Scalability

Web accessibility is important for two reasons:

  1. Being ADA & WCAG compliant is required by law (we’ll explain this further) so if your website isn’t compliant, you can get sued.
  2. It allows people with disabilities to browse your website, which increases your potential audience and it is the decent thing to do.

In this accessiBe review, we’ll cover:

How Does accessiBe Work

accessiBe is an automated solution that combines two applications to achieve full compliance.

Foreground application: the accessibility interface. This is the accessibility menu that allows users with disabilities to adjust the various UI and design elements on your website so it meets their unique needs.

Background application: proprietary AI technology that’s responsible for the ‘heavy lifting’, screen-reader, and keyboard navigation optimization.

The combination of these two applications is unique for accessiBe for a few reasons. While most available accessibility solutions offer just one of the two or rely on manual remediation, accessiBe checks both boxes and does it in a fully automated way.

Additionally, and most importantly, accessiBe continuously scans your website, every 24 hours, identifying and fixing new accessibility issues as they arise. Websites are dynamic – meaning, keep updating constantly with new content, pages, images and so on; being ADA and WCAG compliant is an ongoing concern, not a one-time fix.

How to Install and Setup accessiBe

You install accessiBe by inserting a single line of code on your website.

From your end, that’s all it takes.

The first thing that happens is that the accessibility interface appears on your website. The menu is available via the accessibility icon (that also appears automatically.)

Source: accessiBe website

Next, the AI application scans and analyzes your website for accessibility issues and compatibility with screen-readers and keyboard navigation requirements and fixes them. This automated process takes 48 hours.

Once the initial 48 hours have elapsed, your website is compliant.

From here on, accessiBe automatically scans your website every 24 hours to identify and fix new accessibility issues as they arise due to website updates.

Why Ongoing Compliance is Important

We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s important to stress this point.

Whether you have an e-commerce website or a company website, you keep updating and changing your website; new items go up for sale, new videos and content pieces are added. Every addition or removal from your website has the potential of creating accessibility gaps (like missing alt text for images.)

By continuously scanning and fixing your website, accessiBe ensures that you stay compliant. An accessibility audit remediates your website for the specific point in time the audit took place. Meaning, you’ll need to audit your website periodically to remain compliant, which is a costly affair. With accessiBe you don’t need to worry about this.

accessiBe Front End Features – The Accessibility Interface

The accessiBe accessibility interface (the menu that is available for users) is installed automatically on your website once you insert the line of code. Let’s look at the various features that are available for people with disabilities.

Accessibility Profiles Explained

First, it allows you to choose from a pre-defined set of profiles optimized for various disability needs:

When one of the profiles is selected, the required adjustments are instantly applied to your entire website.

For example, The ADHD Friendly Profile creates a reading mark that follows your mouse movements that diminish distractions and allows better focus:

The Cognitive Disability Profile frames all the elements in bounding boxes and adds an ‘reading cursor’ that acts as your mouse to allow enhanced orientation:

Each of the predefined profiles includes a suite of features that target the unique accessibility needs of the disability; the Epilepsy Safe Profile prevents videos from playing automatically, dims all the colors on your website and eliminates flashing and blinking animations; the Visually Impaired Profile enhances all your website’s visuals, enlarges all fonts to allow most visual impairments conditions (degrading eyesight, tunnel vision, cataract, glaucoma and more) to be able to browse your website with ease.

The last two profiles, Blind Users and Keyboard Navigation, work in unison. They allow blind and motor-impaired individuals to browse and use your website as they are used to, through screen-readers and keyboard functionality, respectively.

Two things need to be mentioned here:

  1. Blind individuals have screen-readers installed on their computers in the OS-level, meaning, on the hard drive of the computer. They use them to navigate the internet by having the software read for them every text that appears on the screen. As can be seen in the screenshot above, the Blind User profile is ‘launched’ automatically once accessiBe detects that the user is using a screen-reader. This is a crucial functionality since obviously blind users aren’t able to locate the accessibility icon.
  2. The same goes for individuals that are using the keyboard instead of a mouse to navigate the web, both the motor-impaired and the blind. accessiBe detects and automatically enables keyboard navigation on your website.

On top of the predefined accessibility profiles, accessiBe’s interface allows for further adjustments that can be controlled specifically to allow a personalized browsing experience according to the user’s needs. Let’s look at these adjustments.

Accessibility Content Adjustments Explained

The content adjustments allow you to control every aspect of the written content on your website. The menu looks like this:

Each of these elements allows for granular control of the way content, or text, is presented. From altering the entire website’s text to a readable, sans-serif font that is easier to follow, to highlighting titles and links, to adjusting font size, the spacing between lines and letters and using a text magnifier that follows your cursor on the screen.

Here’s how it looks with Highlight Titles and Highlight Links turned on:

You can see all the links are highlighted with an orange bounding box while all titles are highlighted with a blue bounding box.

Accessibility Color Adjustments Explained

The color adjustments allows users to control every aspect of the color scheme on the website:

From adjusting contrast and saturation, to switching the entire website to a monochrome color scheme, to adjusting textual elements and background colors. Let’s look at a few examples.

Here’s a side-by-side of default appearance and the Dark Contrast adjustment turned on:

And here’s how it looks with the Monochrome adjustment turned on:

Accessibility Orientation Adjustments Explained

The orientation adjustments allow full control of ‘distractions’ that make it hard for individuals with epilepsy, ADHD, and cognitive disability to browse the web:

As such, the orientation adjustments allow users to mute sound, hide images, stop animations and additional ‘focus’ features such as an enlarged cursor and reading assistance that highlights the text being read.

Here’s how the Remove Images adjustment works:

accessiBe Back End Features

Unlike ‘accessibility plugins’ (more on that later) accessiBe provides a comprehensive back end treatment to your website – automated, AI-powered analysis of compatibility with accessibility requirements and fixing of the elements that need adjustment.

It should be noted that 70% of the WCAG compliance requirements deal with screen-reader and keyboard navigation compatibility and all these requirements are not answered by installing an accessibility interface widget that merely makes UI and design adjustments.

For example, an accessibility widget will enable you to enlarge the font on your website, to adjust the saturation or to highlight links, but it won’t enable a blind individual to differentiate between a shopping cart icon and a checkout icon, nor will it enable a motor impaired individual to easily navigate a menu.

This is a crucial consideration to make when choosing a web accessibility solution. Being WCAG compliant is a YES / NO situation. Your website is either compliant or it’s not, there is no middle ground here.

accessiBe’s back end features come to solve and answer all these compatibility issues that enable full screen-reader and keyboard navigation functionalities.

Screen Reader Compatibility Explained

Screen Reader is a software for blind individuals to use computers and browse the web. As the name suggests, the software reads aloud what is seen on the screen for blind individuals.

The screen reader software is installed on the computer. But in order for it to work with websites, the website needs to be compatible with the software. To achieve compatibility with screen reader software, WCAG requires that a website should adhere to a set of attributes called Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) that are installed within the website’s code, allowing it to ‘communicate’ with the screen reader.

Let’s take social icons as an example. We are all familiar with those icons – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they are instantly recognizable for us visually. A screen reader software doesn’t actually ‘see’ elements on the screen, rather it scans the website’s code to understand what appears on the screen. As such, a Facebook icon code simply says ‘link’ and has the URL that directs the user when clicking the link.

So with a website that isn’t compatible with a screen reader, that doesn’t have ARIA tags implemented, the screen reader will read to the blind person “link” for the Facebook icon; not very helpful, is it?

When ARIA tags are implemented, additional information is added to the Facebook icon – and any other visual link on the website – that describes what is the link. So the screen reader will read to the blind person “Facebook link”.

It’s not difficult to imagine the scope and effort of the work needed in order to implement ARIA tags on your entire website.

Keyboard Navigation Compatibility Explained

Keyboard navigation means that motor-impaired individuals are using their computers only through their keyboard, rather than a mouse. Scrolling, clicking links and menu buttons, opening and closing tabs – everything is done using designated keys.

There are many issues relating to keyboard navigation as today’s websites are highly complex, layered with content elements, and react dynamically to user behavior. Any element of the website must be compatible to allow full keyboard navigation.

Let’s look at a popup as an example.

Popups can be triggered for a variety of reasons. For mouse users, it is a simple occurrence; you can bring the cursor to the area of the popup, click on one of the fields to input details or click the X to close the popup.

But how do you handle the popup using only the keyboard? How do you differentiate between ‘regular’ functionalities of the website and that of the popup? How do you ‘shift the focus’ of the keystrokes to a layered element? You need to allow unique keystrokes to operate the popup, keystrokes that are activated only when a popup appears.

It’s one example of the many challenges making your website compatible with keyboard navigation. The list of WCAG requirements for compatibility with keyboard navigation is a long one, and understandably so as it needs to enable motor-impaired individuals to navigate your website with the same ease as the rest of us using a mouse.

How accessiBe’s Background Processing Achieves Screen Reader and Keyboard Navigation Compatibility

Without getting too technical, what accessiBe does is scan the entire code of your website and adds keyboard functionalities and ARIA tags to various elements on your website directly. It won’t interfere with your site’s code, but rather add an additional ‘layer’.

accessiBe’s AI ‘learned’ all of ARIA’s tags and keyboard functionalities required by WCAG and when scanning your website’s code implements all the required adjustments to achieve full compliance.

How accessiBe Makes Menus Accessible

Menus are a good example for understanding what the accessiBe background processing does and the benefits it provides.

We recognize menus on websites instantly, because we saw thousands and thousands of them. We know how they look, we know what their functionality is, and we know where to hover and click in order to reach the various pages of the website.

But if you remember, we said that screen readers don’t ‘look’ at the screen, but rather scan the site’s code to understand structure, identify links and read them aloud with all the text that appears on the page.

So menus are coded as a list structure, because in a way they are. A screen reader will announce a menu as a list, which might be confusing for a blind user. Additionally, many menus have drop-down sub-menus, accessible via a hover or by clicking a little triangle. Without proper ARIA tagging, a screen reader will miss the sub-menu.

What accessiBe does is adding readable tags for every element in the menu so a screen reader will recognize and announce each element properly. The ‘list’ code structure will get a “menu” tag, and the sub-menu will get a tag for ‘sub-menu’, thus allowing the blind individual to utilize the full functionality of the website.

Additionally, accessiBe alternates the tags on-the-fly while the site is being browsed. Once a sub-menu has been opened, a tag that says “sub-menu open” will be added to indicate to the screen reader what has happened, and will be changed with the tag “sub-menu close” once the sub-menu has been closed.

Image Recognition

One of the key elements of accessibility compliance with screen readers is to provide accurate alternative descriptions for images, known as alt text.

accessiBe utilizes various image, object and character recognition technologies (OCR and Iris) to provide highly descriptive and accurate depictions of images displayed on the website. Without adding screen-reader compatible alt tags to images a blind individual would simply not be aware of the existence of images, and miss out on the information usually displayed on images.

Let’s look at the following banner images from an e-commerce website:

As you can see, valuable information is communicated via the images – sales and discounts – the kind of information any shopper would want to know.

This is the descriptive text that accessiBe’s AI assigned to these images, completely automated with no human intervention (from left to right):

  • Image contains: shopping,  shorts, woman, ashion; image text: extra 50% off shorts
  • Image contains: shopping, red top, woman, jeans, fashion; image text: 50% off bottoms
  • Image contains: shopping, blue jumpsuit, woman, fashion, bed, ; image text: 50% off jumpsuits & rompers
  • Image contains: shopping, shoes, ocean, woman, fashion; image text: 50% off shoes

Again, doing this kind of work for the hundreds to thousands of images that are displayed on every e-commerce website requires a lot of time and effort. accessiBe achieves this in a completely automated way, and every image added to your website instantly gets its alt text.

In-Depth Feature Review and Demo of accessiBe

Comparison of accessiBe with Accessibility Plugins

There are many web accessibility plugins out there. They offer a ‘quick fix’ for ADA and WCAG compliance – add an accessibility menu and you’re done.

As tempting as it may sound, the distinction between an accessibility menu and being fully compliant must be made.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, there are two parallel tasks that need to handle in order to achieve ADA and WCAG compliance:

  • Front end – UI and design adjustments, achieved by the Accessibility Interface (the visible menu for content, font, color and orientation adjustments)
  • Back end – screen-reader and keyboard navigation compatibility, achieved by implementing ARIA tags and further code adjustments

Reminder: 70% of accessibility compliance requirements deal with back end adjustments, meaning, screen-readers, and keyboard navigation compatibility.

Accessibility plugins, whether free or paid, only answer the front-end requirements. Meaning, after installing an accessibility plugin, you are just 30% compliant. Since accessibility compliance is not a scale (you don’t ‘get points’ for making it halfway through) you’ll need to turn to an additional provider to do the back end work.

accessiBe, on the other hand, provides a full accessibility compliance solution, covering both UI and design requirements through the accessibility interface AND screen-reader and keyboard navigation compatibility requirements through it’s automated AI technology that analyzes and makes adjustments in the code-level of the website.

Benefits of Using accessiBe Over Accessibility Plugins

  • Achieving complete accessibility compliance
  • Dealing with a single provider, rather than two or more
  • Cost-efficiency (manual audit and remediation service are expensive)
  • Complete compatibility with screen-readers and keyboard navigation
  • Enabling true accessibility to individuals with disabilities

Comparison of accessiBe with Manual Accessibility Services

Manual accessibility services can help you achieve full accessibility compliance, but it comes with two major disclaimers:

  1. You’ll still need an additional solution for an accessibility interface, which the service companies don’t provide
  2. The compliance achieved is for the point in time the audit and remediation were performed. Let’s explain this point further.

Companies that offer a manual accessibility service assign a team of accessibility experts to do an audit of your website. The result of this audit is a lengthy document detailing all the accessibility faults that your website has. It is a valuable document as it gives you a precise depiction of what needs to be fixed in order to achieve compliance.

From here there are two possible paths:

You can either take the audit results to your development team and have them remediate your website accordingly.

Or, some of the service companies offer a remediation service, meaning, they’ll assign their own engineers to manually make the necessary changes in your website. Needless to say this extra service isn’t given for free.

In both cases, you are looking at a process that takes weeks if not months (depending on the number of pages your website has.)

Additionally, since it is a manual process done by experts, it comes with a hefty price tag.

But most importantly, the audit and remediation hold for the time they were done. Unless you have a 100% static website, meaning, you do not make any changes to your website – never add or remove products, never update content – the ‘effect’ of the audit and remediation fades away with time.

Since the process was manual, any changes you make to your website must be handled manually accessibility-wise. You added a new banner with a link to items on sale, you’ll need to go into the code and add ARIA tags. You added a new image, you’ll need to go into the code and add alt text compatible with screen-readers. And so on.

Some of the manual accessibility service companies offer maintenance services as well. They will periodically audit your website (manually) and provide a remediation document that will need to be implemented (manually) either by your development team or by theirs for an additional cost.

These costs add up. Having your website audited and remediated for compliance on an ongoing basis takes time, effort, and money. But you don’t have a choice. Being ADA and WCAG compliant is an ongoing task, since websites are dynamic and being updated regularly.

accessiBe, on the other hand, offers a 100% automated and ongoing compliance solution. The initial audit and remediation process is carried out – with no human intervention – in 48 hours (compared to weeks or months by a manual provider). Then, your website is scanned every 24 hours to identify and fix accessibility issues using accessiBe AI technology. Meaning, compliance maintenance is constantly carried out ‘in the background’ keeping you ADA & WCAG compliant at all times.

Which brings us to another crucial point regarding manual accessibility services. They make it extremely hard for you to scale up. Every business has a constant aim to grow, but with a manual accessibility service, scalability becomes a pain point. The more you grow the more time, effort and money you need to put in to remain compliant. You want to add another section to your website, you want to launch an additional website? Using a manual accessibility service will hold you back. You’ll need to account for additional time before going live to manually enable accessibility and additional funds. For fast-moving companies, time becomes a serious burden.

Since accessiBe offers an automated and ongoing accessibility solution, scalability is not an issue.

Benefits of Using accessiBe Over Manual Accessibility Services

  • Time-efficient
  • Cost-effective
  • 100% automated
  • Ongoing compliance
  • Infinite scale
  • Single provider for full compliance (front end and back end)

How to Check Your Web Accessibility Compliance Level

Before you get started on your path to being ADA & WCAG compliant it’s important to understand the current state of accessibility your website provides.

Obviously, if you’ve never taken any steps to make your website accessible to individuals with disabilities, there’s no need for this – your website isn’t accessible in any way.

This is actually highly important if you have taken steps to make your website accessible, like for example, installing one of the accessibility plugins. You might be under the impression that by doing so your website is both compliant and accessible to individuals with disabilities.

There’s a simple and quick way to face the accessibility reality.

accessiBe offers a free, automated compliance audit tool available online named aCe. It uses accessiBe AI technology to scan your site, detect accessibility issues and provide quite a detailed report on the various elements that impact your website’s accessibility, and those include:

  • General score
  • Clickables
  • Titles
  • Orientation
  • Menus
  • Graphics
  • Forms
  • Documents
  • Readability
  • Carousels
  • Tables

Each of these elements is given a score and some explanations to the specific issues that need attention within the context of these elements.

In addition to gaining a compliance audit with the remediation steps needed to be taken in order to fix these issues, aCe gives you a very clear idea of where you stand and what needs your attention in order to achieve compliance.

We gave it a try. We ran a website that has installed one of the accessibility plugins (which was recognized, by name, by the aCe audit tool) and the results cement the point that these plugins aren’t comprehensive enough of a solution for true ADA & WCAG compliance.

Here are the results:

As can be expected, the UI and design side got relatively high scores, due to the accessibility plugin installed on the website, but anything that has to do with back end compatibility with screen readers and keyboard navigation got a failing score.

Conclusion

accessiBe is an automated and comprehensive web accessibility solution that achieves ongoing compliance with ADA and WCAG regulations for your website.

It offers a unique combination of front end and back end compatibility, meaning, it provides an end-to-end solution for both user-facing accessibility interface, and compatibility with screen readers and keyboard navigation.

The solution offered by accessiBe is a no-touch, no-code, continuous compliance utilizing proprietary AI technology that audits and remediates your website.

It is by far one of the most affordable web accessibility solutions, starting at $490 for websites with up to 1,000 unique pages.

When compared to accessibility plugins, accessiBe’s offering is robust and comprehensive, delivering full compliance that plugins aren’t able to.

When compared to accessibility manual services, accessiBe offers a speedy and automated audit and remediation process compared to the lengthy, manual and highly expensive offering of the service companies. Additionally, accessiBe, unlike accessibility manual services, delivers ongoing compliance and the ability to scale with ease and speed.

The combination of AI-based audit and remediation, the most comprehensive accessibility interface on the market, ongoing compliance, scalability, and a highly affordable plan makes accessiBe stand out from the competition by offering a unique end-to-end solution for achieving ADA and WCAG compliance in a fast and simple way.

 

[– accessiBe is a partner of WebdesignerDepot –]

Featured image via Unsplash.

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