When a phrase like “WCAG 2.0 Compliance” is mentioned, you probably feel your eyelids beginning to droop. But compliance is a serious matter that has serious legal consequences if not taken in a serious manner – and nobody is above the law.
Throughout the existence of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), lawsuits have been brought forth that have cost companies millions of dollars. Even the United States government is susceptible, with three administrative complaints being filed under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in 2009 alone.
Almost 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, and their user experience is just as important as everyone else’s. Compliance with the standards set by ADA and Section 508 ensures that they can patronize your website without difficulty.
Here at CreateApe, we take compliance very seriously. Creating an atmosphere of inclusion and accessibility for all isn’t just something we’re bound to do — it’s something we’re compelled to do because it’s simply right. That’s why we always think compliance-first at every stage of design and development.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed guidelines for accessibility on the internet called “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” (WCAG) 2.0. These guidelines give recommendations for making web content more accessible and usable for people with various disabilities, including blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, limited movement, and more.
Both Title III of the ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act use the WCAG 2.0 guidelines as a standard. Section 508 governs federal websites and anyone doing business with the government while the ADA applies to all websites as they are considered places of public accommodation.
In a nutshell, the WCAG 2.0 sets standards to make the web more accessible to people of all abilities. There are 38 different success criteria, regulating things like proper color contrast, usage of alt tags for pictures, keyboard navigation, and limitations on flashing images. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The gist of things is if you don’t make things accessible, then you’re discriminating against those with disabilities, and it could cost you.
The last couple of decades is littered with lawsuits over ADA and Section 508 violations. According to a UsabelNet study, 2235 ADA website lawsuits were filed against companies in 2019. 21% of these companies were sued more than once.
Even celebrities aren’t immune to ADA lawsuits. Queen Bey herself stood accused of noncompliance. Some elements of the lawsuit included:
In 2009, Target Corporation had to pay out $6 million in damages and more than $3 million in legal fees to settle a lawsuit brought forth by the National Federation of the Blind. Among the complaints were that an image of a Dyson vacuum cleaner had alt-text that was read by a screen reader as:
Link GP browse dot HTML reference zero six zero six one eight nine six three eight one eight zero seven two nine seven three five 12 million 957 thousand 121
Say that out loud to yourself and listen to how ridiculous it sounds.
Winn-Dixie, Domino’s, Fox News, Burger King, Nike, Blue Apron, CVS, Hobby Lobby, and Harvard are just a small fraction of companies and organizations that have faced legal challenges for violating the ADA. The list goes on.
Government departments and agencies have also been sued. The Department of Education, the Small Business Administration, and the Social Security Administration have all received accessibility complaints under Section 508. Ironically, the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington D.C. also had to fix some of their website features.
That was a lot to take in. Deep breaths. In and out, in and out…
It’s important to know the gravity of what non-compliance means, but there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your website is accessible and you don’t step in any mud. Here’s a checklist for you to follow to help you meet the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at the AA level:
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. We know, it’s a lot to keep track of. Website accessibility is an on-going and long-term project. As your content and designs evolve, you must always make sure that you remain ADA and Section 508 compliant. We promise, it is doable.
If the above steps sound overwhelming to you, don’t fret. We’re here to help by either providing an action plan for you to follow or by taking the lead with a full-fledged compliance analysis. Either way, our goal is to give you peace of mind.
Are you a business owner or entrepreneur that needs help with compliance? Let us assist you in getting #JungleReady. Our CreateApe expert team will be your jungle guide and help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.
It’s a jungle out there, and while most of the jungle is wild and filled with some rather vicious monsters, we’d like to consider ourselves the jungle guides. Nothing scares us and no beast is too large to manage or tame (*cough* 10 cooks in a kitchen *cough*). Many of our previous clients return because they value the CreateApe difference and know that we are experts in our field when compared to what’s out there. The pickings are slim people!!
We attribute our success to a successful kick-off with our clients. The first meeting always dictates the tone, direction, and collaboration amongst our clients and our team. Our founder and CEO, Alessandro Fard, has broken it down to some key questions to kick off the meeting, and we’re proud to say it works!
Aside from narrowing down a meeting date, time, and location that works for everyone, we also have a general pattern of the questions we like to ask for the first meeting. We make it a point to hear out the client’s vision and expectations for their new product/service launch. Leadership is not just about directing the path and giving orders, leadership takes an open mindset and ability to adapt skill sets into the path we map out collaboratively speaking.
This question is a given. This is their opportunity to shine and dazzle you with a history of how they got started and where they see the company or product heading. The important part to address here as UX designers (which usually doesn’t come up) is how the company makes its revenue. Did you get that? HOW DO THEY MAKE MONEY?!? No money, no business. No business, NO client. NO CLIENT!!! WHAT?!
Create Ape knows successful UX ninjas prioritize not only the user, but the business as well. While learning the history and vision of the client, it is important to know the profit and benefit for both the user and the client from a business perspective. And guess what else? Some of the best challenges are when the users goals and the business goals are completely different. How do you marry the two? Great UX gurus live for that!
You also have a chance to address the essential reason of why they called you in the first place: how they can make it better and how they can MAKE MORE MONEY. What else draws businesses to launch new services and products?
With years of experience, it’s safe to say that most companies come with limitations, and it’s a ninja’s job to exploit those limitations and convert them into possibilities. Mind blown, yet?
This question opens the discussion about time and money. Another favorite thing to talk about! Many times than not, a client comes to us when “sh*t hits the fan” and they are down to a final deadline, the last inning of the game with little to no resources left to spend. Then you’re left to clean up the mess, and possibly start from scratch…depending on the beastly damage. Yup, damage control. We said it!
Remember to keep realistic expenditures and time frames for clients, especially if they’ve already been burned. It is better to be real than to try to meet their demands in order to land the job. It all takes time and money, don’t beat around the bush! Transparency is what wins the client and keeps them coming back.
Give the client an opportunity to expound on what has worked and what has not. AND MEMORIZE IT!! Ok…maybe not memorize it, but definitely pay attention. This is different from the company history in that it relates specifically to the project at hand. This is important information to make sure that you’re not busting out the same ideas as the last team.
It also gives you feedback on direction and concept with what has worked in the past, and allows you to expand that concept to further limits. We love pushing limits, not buttons.. Dive deep into the core brand/product and don’t be lazy in your review.
SO don’t just flip specifically to what has worked and ignore what hasn’t. The stuff that didn’t work is equally as important. Knowing what exes to avoid from the past saves you time and money.
While the client has already given you an overall goal of where they want to go. This question is meant to deepen the goal and methods or conversion rates they wish to apply.
Driving traffic is easy, but what you want the traffic to do is where the nitty gritty stuff comes in. Questions like: Do you want to increase sharing? Increase page views? Increase sign ups? Increase retention rates?
As the client answers these questions, explain to them that for every action there is a reaction. We can’t escape Newton people!! This will help you remain transparent (and apply some physics to your accolades) so that the client can decide what the priority is and how it will affect their results. You can’t have your cake and eat it too…..or can you?
Who is going to report to you and who will be reporting to them? When it comes to UX design it’s a lot smoother to have less collaborators because the more eyes it needs to reach the longer the turn around rate is before it actually gets approved. (Remember that kitchen *cough* we talked about?).
This swings both ways, and in an ideal world, we like to have 1-3 points of contact on a project to create true villain magic. It nicely ties back to our leadership spiel and navigating what it takes to successfully kick-off a product/service. Once you establish the team on both sides it helps establish you into that leadership role, which in turn helps everyone out and holds everyone accountable.
Another thing we’d like to address while on this topic is the method of communication that both teams will use to get the job done. One of our teams favorite is Slack. Be clear as to where the primary communication will go down so that the client knows exactly where to go to find the goods.
Sometimes with so many apps and management tools out there, it can be easy to get lost in communication. We also like to hold weekly meetings with our stakeholders to ensure that everything is getting communicated effectively and that goals are being met by the team.
The grand finale of the meeting is your chance to shine. We know it sucks holding in all of your awesomeness until the end, but trust us it works!
The conversation should end with the approach you’d like to take from there–that first meeting. Yup, how are you planning to tame the beast?
Talk about the research you plan to review of previous successes and disasters to avoid. Also mention future steps after reviewing everything they give you, the interview and selection of users you’d like to talk to, and the outcome of the similarities and/or differences that affect the vision of the product.
More future topics to shine light on include: the product mission statement, competitive design principles, success metrics to track, wireframes, and prototypes. Let the client know that through every step of the way, from infancy to maturity, you will be holding their hand–advising and answering any questions that arise.
Yes–these secondary steps will follow the initial approach, but it is important to highlight what is ahead so that they can see a light at the end of the tunnel and know what to expect from a UX ninja.
It’s been a fun tour of this jungle ride, but now it’s time for us to go tame more beasts!! We hope you feel better equipped to do the same. Or at least more organized with the kick-off flow. ?
Google, Amazon, and Apple are among the strongest brands of the last decade. They have created billions in brand value and have industry-leading business performance. What else do they have in common? Their brand success can be directly tied to simplicity–to making life simpler for their users, that is. They also adhere to simplicity rules to define their brand experiences. These rules are worth considering for any brand trying to simplify their customer experience and drive customer satisfaction, commitment, and connection.
Every brand thinks it’s the most important thing in their user’s life. Seldom is this true. A user’s experience with a brand is just one event in an action-packed life. Good brands map out their customer experience looking for opportunities to simplify, eliminate steps, confusion, and complications in ways that add value. Great brands look to where the brand and the experience fit within their user’s overall life, looking to make not just the experience easier but a user’s overall life easier. Amazon, with its 1-click ordering, is a great example of a brand that ‘considers the context’. Typical web marketing theory of the time said that the goal was to keep customers on a brand’s website for as long as possible to increase interaction and engagement in the belief that this would increase purchase. Amazon took a counter approach, creating a 1-click ordering option where user preferences and purchase information could be stored in order to enable a single click purchase. Amazon’s 1-click ordering, and the resultant user satisfaction with its simplicity, is core to the Amazon’s brand promise. By making online shopping as quick and painless as a single mouse click, Amazon made simplicity and customer-centricity core to their brand over 13 years ago.
Simplicity is not just eliminating steps, clarifying language or using intuitive graphics. Brands that succeed due to simplicity understand that everything must work together, clearly and seamlessly. Apple is a brand that lives this. Not only are the devices beautiful, simply to understand and use right out of the box. Not only do the devices work simply with the iTunes store, iCloud storage, and other Apple systems. It isn’t just that their user interfaces are a model of clarity and simplified interaction. Apple realizes everything matters when it comes to simplicity. That there isn’t an end to what can be simplified and made better. That in order to get it right, they must consider everything, they must ‘go deep.’ Only by going deep can brands understand how everything fits together and how everything matters to the user.
Rather than continuing to add incremental features to a brand experience over time, great brands stand firm once they reach a level of simplicity, resisting the urge to add brand bells and whistles. Melissa Mayer, former VP of Google Search Products, is credited with keeping the interface of the Google search page blissfully simple: a white page with a blank box. Despite constant pressure to use the power of one of the most visited pages on the web to promote other brands, Google resists that urge, maintaining a simple page in the best interest of the user.Simple is a powerful strength for great brands like Amazon, Apple, and Google. Increasingly, it will be necessary for every brand. In a world of ever-increasing complexity, brand simplicity is critical for brands to get right or risk customer disappointment and defection.
Sometimes the best way to recognize and make up for our mistakes is to laugh at them first. That’s what the sub-reddit /r/assholedesign is for, to call out the UX and industrial designer that insists on making people’s lives harder. Almost everyone’s been subjected to the great feat of simply trying to cancel your account only to be met with a thousand step procedure or a technological design that just complicates or confuses the process. That’s why this sub-reddit hits the mark.
As an offshoot of the popular sub-reddit /r/CrappyDesign that features everything from signs, advertising, and third grade projects gone wrong, /r/assholedesign has over 400,000 subscribers who delight in the humor of “designers who know exactly what they’re doing…but they don’t care because they’re assholes.” The site serves as a place to shame bad design varying from architecture, packaging, and web interface.
Some of the posts will have you wondering what the conversation was like in the design meeting. I can only envision “Ah, let’s make it harder by adding three steps, or better yet, let’s make the unsubscribe button invisible!”
According to the moderators, “satire is ridicule of asshole design techniques” and the amusement of posters reveals exactly that. Not only does it intend to amuse, but the sub-reddit reveals dark patterns in design, “tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things you didn’t mean to.” These patterns have implications for society, but also for the future of design.
This guy is definitely a subscriber of /r/assholedesign:
Doesn’t everybody love a classic dark pattern?
We need this type of sub-reddit because sometimes, even professionals need a reminder of what and what not to do. Anyone with an iPhone 6 or above feels this struggle when trying to listen with their headphones and charge their phone at the same time (that’s some serious “asshole” design).
Although framed in a comical way, /r/assholedesign reminds us that looking at our failures in a UX/UI community allow designers to focus on designs that make the experience better, and not worse, for the user. Laughing at our mistakes and old designs help us grow as a group of professionals. We’ll be the first to admit that sometimes a lesson needs to accompanied with a good laugh.
This week we wanted to share a great article from the desk of our founder Alessandro Fard. Read on to learn more about user experience storytelling.
Isn’t it bananas how fast Apple releases a new and improved product every quarter? Ever wonder why they are even able to sell those new products so rapidly after just launching the last one? What makes consumers go back for those new and improved products? Hint: it is not the advertising of words that Apple spends on; it’s the experience that keeps the consumer coming back for more.
I mean think about it, you get a new phone with an amazing camera on it and you think that it is the best of the best in the world, but then Apple comes out with an even better phone than yours and all of a sudden you need to see for yourself how the grass is greener! Apple doesn’t need to dazzle you with words, you just know and expect that the newer product will be even better. Each. And EVERY. Time!!!!!
Welp, ladies and gents…that experience, that expectation, that innovative mindset, and branding is what marketing has evolved into. You can thank Apple for setting that bar so high…jk! ?
But in all honesty, marketing is no longer just a play on words and creative campaigns. It has converged into a massive beast that we like to call experience.
Back in the 60s a brand’s communication strategy was separate from the design of the product or service. Today, both branches collide, collaborate, and produce the product and design together for a successful service or product launch. As a result, products and services must deliver engaging stories, deepen customer engagement, and organizations must structure creative teams differently in order to grow revenues.
Alongside these changes is the task of delivering the experience to multiple platforms within a network of multiple brands. Whereas in the 60s you really only had the TV, radio, or newspaper as your communication channels; nowadays there is that plus websites, social media, blogging, stories, videos, podcasts, and more. The complexity can be challenging and intimidating when marketing for every platform, but it also gives organizations great tools to get creative and collaborate with their team about the product or service, and an even greater experience for their diverse audience.
So what should teams look like if not separate anymore?
As my peeps at UX Magazine so nicely put it, “marketing and product teams need to work more closely. Copywriting and story teams need to collaborate with user experience teams. Likewise, interaction and interface designers, rooted in human need and usability, need to work in integrated ways with marketing and advertising creatives.”
In other words, everyone works with everyone. Don’t separate your teams, as difficult as it can be to have everyone stirring the same pot, it is what makes the difference in your campaign strategy because it will be so uniquely progressed through multiple layers, professionals, and creative mindsets.
I want to encourage you to switch it up and take the challenge of team collaboration beyond designated branches. It will greatly impact your product or service to more meaningful, relevant connections with your consumers.
There are so many tools to get you to the finish line of designing a masterpiece, each and every one to ease the process. That being said, keep in mind that the tools or methods you use don’t matter as much as the finished product does. Don’t try to dazzle your clients with how fast your turnaround rate is, take your time to create something that matters beyond what has been requested of you.
Everyone is branding themselves these days on social media, but a true brand begins with a meaningful, purposeful idea. Don’t let the filters, grids, and logos drive your brand, but instead the mindset and goal should be the focus. What is the meaning of this brand? Why is it important to consumers? What does it feel/look like long term?
Dive deep into the benefit of your product/service brand. People want to know why your service or product is necessary and what it will help them achieve. Don’t just settle for the best on the market, because let’s face it…there is always better out there or the next best upgrade. Truly conveying why a product/service is going to benefit a consumer is the best way to maximize your brand. Apple doesn’t claim to be the best cell phone in the market, they capitalize on what the cell phone features and the type of consumer that would love it.
Take the time to own your craft, focus on those small details that set you apart from the rest, choose to make the experience one that keeps consumers coming back again. Chances are if they’re coming back, they’re likely to share that to other consumers creating that domino effect that can happen through well crafted design.
Less is always more. Charm can be extravagant, but those grand romantic gestures in movies that are way over the top–yeah those aren’t a win in design. Think about the speed of life lately, everyone only has a few minutes to do things, the faster, easier, and simpler the better when it comes to interface and design flow.
With technology shifts and social media trends changing on what seems like every day, it is important to reassess, improve, and reinvent what you’re delivering to your customers and the methods you are using to do so. I like to take some time at the end of every month to assess what worked really well, what could be improved, and what was a bust.
I know it is redundant considering number 6, but assessing and changing the version are really two separate parts. Version upgrades and updates can both increase or harm your customer base. Consider all personas when updating what is not working, and also when deciding what is working. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
If you’ve been to high school you know the role that social media plays in destroying and raising ego. Needless to say, it is all too easy for consumers to completely defame a company or any entity. The best way to mitigate that is by ensuring that the client/consumer doesn’t feel fooled or wronged through faulty promises/products. Don’t create crap that creates crap!
Let’s face it, sometimes we get too creative and lose sight of the central truth that a brand was developed for. We want to create art that impacts without considering the impact itself to be the core truth about a product or service. In my experience it is far better to create around a central truth, than to create and then try to apply that truth to what you magnificently created.
It was true when your mama told you, and it’s still true today. Stand out means not blending in. Blending in means copying what’s being done. There is not one client design that is similar to another in my portfolio, and for good reason. I truly believe that every product or service has something unique to offer, and it’s up to me and my team to find that out. Thinking outside the box is truly an art that I’ve come to master and love. The more personalized the better rapport with clients, the better experience with consumers, the better product design, the clearer the focus, and so on..
In order to create the experience and succeed in branding, both product development and campaign marketing teams must work together, collaborate, and reinvent the experience to match the story and core brand. We’ve come a long way since the 60s, but the main thing has always been the main thing, tying them together into a story that results in a positive experience for consumers is the trend…and it looks as though it’s here to stay.
UX encompasses everything a user feels when interacting with your website, including the landing pages that convert first-time visitors into your digital acolytes.
Landing pages are critical in online marketing because they can generate leads, promote products, and generate awareness. Think of them as the formal introduction between your site and your user after being directed from search engines, social media, and email campaigns.
The user gets a good idea about your site’s utility through your landing page. A well-designed landing page strategically communicates on behalf of your brand while guiding the user through retention and sales funnels. They’ll remember an easy sign-up experience, and they’ll also remember an annoying and confusing one.
The content on your landing page is key to directing your user. But what good is clear content with a bad layout or distracting design? And what good is an awesome design with cold, boring messaging?
Simplicity is the name of the game with landing pages. Know what you want the user to do when they get to the page and make that your only focus.
To accomplish this goal, keep the page as distraction-free as possible. Avoid different calls to action that take the user away from the desired conversion funnel. And avoid outbound links that take the user away from the page entirely.
Having one option on the page narrows down their choices and makes the experience completely unambiguous. Less is more with your landing page.
The headline is the first thing a user sees when they click on your landing page, and you can communicate so much in just a few simple words. You have only seconds to capture and retain your user’s attention. Keep the messaging of your headlines straightforward and engaging.
Fonts, typography, and color palettes are all essential parts of your branding. Together, they form the big picture of your verbal and visual identity in the user’s mind. Be sure to incorporate these elements into your headline to introduce the user to your brand and uphold your identity.
This might come as a surprise, but our online attention spans are short.
Big blocks of text turn users away from landing pages. The goal is to give them a quick idea of the page’s function and direct them to the first conversion funnel. Sum up your aim with your headline, brief description sentence, and a clear call to action.
If using extra text is unavoidable, then break it up into easily digestible sections. Divide sections into subheadings that highlight value propositions or create a bulleted list that simplifies a process. Just remember — scannable copy is king.
The user does not want to answer a million questions to create a profile or buy something off your website. Keep your forms simple and ask only what you need to know for a quick, frictionless conversion process.
Users are generally more willing to give out their email than their phone number, so asking for an email address first is a great way to start the conversion process. You can also reduce the number of required forms to give the user more control over the contact information they share.
So you’ve roped in your user with an interesting headline and cool layout. Now they need to know where to go next to accomplish their goal.
You need a clear call to action that shows the user how to get to the next conversion funnel. Keep CTAs as succinct as possible so the user knows exactly what will happen when they click that button.
Your CTA needs to be easily identifiable against the other elements in the interface. Using a contrasting color from the background is a great way to focus on the most important parts of the page.
Keep CTAs close enough to the headlines and images — the things that draw the user’s eye right off the bat. If your landing page is long and text-heavy, try to place a couple of different CTAs throughout the page.
Your brand's visual identity will guide the overall design of your landing page, but be sure the content and messaging do not get lost in the shuffle.
A minimalist design is a great way to call attention to the CTA but can come off as boring if not done right. Your color palette and images are great accents on a simple landing page. Your landing page should inspire trust and reliability, so make sure images are high-quality and on-brand.
The actual content needs to be the focal point of the page, even on a busy layout. Fonts in contrasting colors help the user separate the message from the rest of the design. Some light shading also helps words pop out against the background. Above all, your CTA still needs to be easily identifiable and optimally placed.
Landing pages have a lot of power in digital marketing. Well-designed landing pages generate excitement for your brand while boosting your sales and conversion rates through the roof. And bad ones have real-world consequences that drive people away from your site, losing you money.
As always in UX, user testing will tell you all you need to know about how the page functions and what needs improving. You won't know for sure how effective the page is until you test it with your users.
If your design passes all these questions, it is ready for the real world.
Are you struggling with building your perfect landing page? CreateApe's UX designers know how to make landing pages engaging and conversion-focused. View our capability deck here.
It’s a jungle out there — let the Create Ape experts help you traverse the wilds as we take your project to new heights.