What value do you place on designing your website to be accessible for those with disabilities and special needs? Is it something that you have already done and continue to keep a close eye on, in line with the latest government guidelines?
Or do you feel that you lack the time to bolster your site’s accessibility, or that it’s something that would only benefit a tiny proportion of your prospective customer base regardless?
There is certainly a moral argument for ensuring that everyone – and we mean everyone – can access your business’s website.
There is also a legal one, as if your website fails to meet certain design standards, you could be sued for discrimination. Such legal action isn’t something that many companies have faced so far, but it also isn’t unheard of, with several such cases having been initiated in the past by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).
Given the relative lack of legal repercussions so far for organisations that fail to make their websites accessible, it may seem that ignoring this aspect of web design is something you can ‘get away with’. However, there’s another, potentially much more powerful argument for boosting a site’s accessibility: the financial one.
Yes, the number of visitors to your site who are blind may be very small... but there will be many others who have some level of visual impairment, while others may be trying to view small screens in bright environments. By following accessibility guidelines for those with low vision, you can therefore boost the profits that your business gains from all of the above people.
It’s a similar situation when you optimise your site to be easily understood by those with dyslexia. There may be only a small proportion of people visiting your site who are actually dyslexic, but there will be many more people who are non-dyslexic and highly academic, but who might not understand certain specialised terms that you have used on your site. A site that is accessible for dyslexics therefore potentially benefits a much wider range of people.
Or what about designing your site to be more usable for those with physical disabilities? Again, it’s worth thinking here about all of the people who are not physically disabled, but who have previously had to grapple with website buttons and sliders that are so small, it takes five attempts to tap them on a touchscreen device. A website that is easy for a physically disabled person to use is also easy for everyone to use.
In fact, many of the guidelines that you may have read on how you can design a more accessible website – and the Government Digital Service has released some great ones here – overlap with the advice you may have previously read on how you can make your website easier for the entire population to use.
So, why not join the accessibility revolution? Talk to our team here at Piranha Designs about your concerns, and we’ll bear them closely in mind when providing you with a website design that will enable your company to grow among all of the segments of its target audience.
Who remembers Flash? The plugin was certainly ubiquitous once upon a time, to the point of downright notoriety. However, it seems that the freeware software that has been with us since 1996 – and reached a peak of popularity in the late 2000s – will finally be phased out by 2020.
That is according to an announcement by Adobe, which said it was planning to “end-of-life” the plugin, ceasing to update and distribute the Flash Player by the end of 2020 and encouraging content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to new open formats.
In the meantime, security updates will still be made available for Flash in Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft and Google browsers. After that, though, Adobe will no longer offer any new Flash features and the plugin will be, for all extents and purposes, dead.
This announcement isn’t, in many ways, a major shock. After all, Flash is no longer the force in web design circles that it once was, and even in its heyday, the combination of its wide distribution and outdated versions of it helped to make it a key target for hackers.
The death knell for Flash may have been sounded as early as 2010, when – in a famous letter – then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs criticised the software for falling “short” in a then-emerging mobile era that he described as being “about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards”.
Apple never did support Flash on its iOS devices, and even Adobe in recent years has made noises suggesting that it would like to phase out the plugin. After years of declining popularity – accelerated by such developments as Flash support being gradually dropped from Adobe applications and Google making it a ‘click-to-play’ plugin that users must explicitly enable if they wish to use it – it seems that its death is finally coming to pass.
Adobe’s VP of product development Govind Balakrishnan has declared that the company remains “very proud of the legacy of Flash and everything it helped pioneer”, and so it should be – after all, it played a key role in bringing video and gaming to the web.
However, the world of web design is also a fast-moving one now embracing many alternative formats – and here at Piranha Designs, we can help your own organisation’s online presence to do the same. Whether you seek the complete CMS, ecommerce or mobile-friendly website for 2017, our web design professionals can use their up-to-the-minute expertise to show you the way.
Mobile usage is continuously growing. Websites are finding it hard to keep up with all the different devices and screens.
Responsive website design is a solution to this problem.
In simple terms it means that the website 'responds' to the device screen size it is on. This website is responsive. If you view it on a desktop with a large screen you will see that it expands to fill the whole screen. If you then try the site on your ipad you will find that it looks very similar but has condensed the content a little to fit perfectly within the screen. Now when you switch to an iphone or Android smart phone you will see that the site has changed quite dramatically. The menu across the top has become a menu icon which can be expanded on tap. The overall layout has become much more vertical, one column rather than a few columns.
The important thing with responsive design is that there is only one website with all the content in it, but it responds cleverly to the users device.
It is a lot more work for web designers like us, but the end result is really worth it. Stats show that over 70% of mobile users switch to a competitor if they find the site they are looking at is not mobile friendly.
Is your site responsive? Is it mobile friendly?
Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.
No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.
Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.
This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.
In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.
Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:
In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:
The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.
Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.
The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.
Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.