Why Website Accessibility is Important for your Business

Since January 2021, small business have been receiving notices for non-compliance of Web Accessibility. Don’t know what Web Accessibility is and why it matters to you, your business, and the wider industry? Let Rosewood tell you and help you stop getting all those citations. There are some key website accessibility aspects that you should consider.

Web accessibility has become a technical standard. It is extremely important for your business’ website as well as the general internet. Your website provides worldwide access for people to discover and learn about your business. It is often one of the first impressions someone has of your brand. It is critical to your company’s success and growth. So you want to be sure that your website can accessed and browsed by people with a range of hearing, movement, visual, and cognitive abilities. You want your website to welcome its users, not scare them off. Some simple examples to increase accessibility are ensuring that all writing is easily legible and understandable, providing subtitles and captions for videos and audio. In addition, making the website usable with just a keyboard. 

Does your website need to be accessible?

Web accessibility is the basis for an accessible internet, and it means your website can be used by more potential customers or clients. Every website should be accessible for the public. For some businesses it’s also legally required. In Ontario since January 2021, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires that a public sector organization or any business with at least 50 employees must make their public websites accessible. According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 at compliance levels A and AA.

As a result, they have begun issuing non-compliance notices to business not meeting these requirements. British Columbia is currently finalizing its own accessibility act this year which will have similar requirements. While 2.0 is the current requirement, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has already released 2.1, 2.2 will be published this September. Version 3 is an early draft. It is a good idea to future-proof your site for these upcoming revisions. Plus it will only make your business’ website more accessible. 

Our Founder Deanna Simone, recommends finding out if your website needs to be accessibility compliant prior to starting the development process on your website.Website accessibility is extremely important for your website’s users, and improving accessibility on your website will also improve its SEO, meaning search engines like Google will prioritize your site.

How can Rosewood help?

Our web-design services will apply their expertise to make your website comply with these standards to provide users an accessible experience. Our team can help you build a new site that’s accessible, functions smoothly, and looks elegant on most of the major platforms. Including WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix. While it’s better to design a website as accessible from the start, it’s not always easy or possible to build a replacement. That’s why Rosewood is partnered with AccessiBe. This AI-powered software continuously scans a website for any possible accessibility concerns and updates pages to be WCAG 2.1 compliant. 

Whether it’s from the ground up or a revision, our web design experts will ensure your website’s users have a smooth and welcoming experience.

The above key website accessibility considerations are important for all device types.
web design wordpress vs. wix-weebly rosewoodva deanna simone newmarket york region

If there is one question I get asked more than any other, it’s ‘Why WordPress?’

The simple answer; because it’s the best.

But, for those who like to know the Hows and Whys of things, here is the long version. Below is my breakdown for why I choose WordPress vs. Wix and Weebly, with as little boring technical jargon as possible.

The Benefits of WordPress

SEO:

WordPress allows for every page, post and image to be optimized for SEO. And it has tools that check your Readability and SEO scores on every page and blog post you create. Quality of code (below) also impacts your SEO.

Quality of Code:

The quality of code (the symbolic arrangement of data that makes computer programs run) matters, period.  For the most part, if you know what you’re doing, the theme you choose will have quality code. For more on this, see the negatives of WordPress.

Ease of Use by Clients:

Rosewood has researched a wide range of WordPress themes and narrowed it down to only those that have full customization options as well as an easy user interface.  We want all of our clients to at least have the opportunity to take over their own simple updates on a regular basis if they so choose.  We include basic training in our packages. However, our goal is that our websites make our clients so busy that they need to outsource back to us. It’s a win-win!

Open-Source:

WordPress is open-source (resources that have been designed to be publicly accessible and editable) and has been since is creation on May 27th, 2003.  Since then, developers from around the world have created plugins for basically every functionality you can dream of.  Some are free, and some are premium.  The only real issue that arises is that you really need to do your homework before committing to a plugin.

APIs (Application Programming Interface)

Here’s where we get a little technical.  An API is “a software-to-software interface that enables two applications to exchange data among each other.” (source). Because WordPress is open-source and the platform is world-wide, WordPress has tons of APIs; meaning almost everything integrates with it. From MailChimp to PayPal, to Stripe and Salesforce. Whatever you need, someone has most likely already created the API for it.

The Benefits of Wix & Weebly

Ease of Use:

Wix and Weebly knew they couldn’t compete with WordPress on most levels, so they really went after the simplicity component.  Wix and Weebly are so simple, anyone can use them.  But what I always say is, just because you have a website, doesn’t mean anyone can find it.

Quick & Simple

You can have a Wix/Weebly site up within a few days by yourself.  These sites are best suited for people who just need a website as a passive portfolio.  These sites will rarely actively find leads for you.

The Negatives of WordPress

Quality of Code:

Not all websites are built the same, and not even all WordPress sites are built the same.  Some themes (which is the core layout design of your website) have terrible code quality and rank poorly in Google.  This in turn reflects poorly on your SEO.

That is why it is critical to really know what you’re doing and do your research. Rosewood VA stays up to date with theme developments and updates to see which ones are the best for visual performance as well as code quality.  Currently we have narrowed it down ONE SINGLE THEME!  But hey, if something better comes along, you bet we’ll know about it first!

Complexity:

New clients are often hesitant when I recommend WordPress because they’ve heard it’s hard to use and requires custom coding knowledge.  This USED to be true.  WordPress five years ago was no where near as sophisticated as it is now.  Like I say, if you know what you’re doing or have someone to get you started in the right direction, WordPress can be wonderful.

Cost:

Having a website developed by a professional is not cheap.  In the same way that having professional photography is not cheap. However, what really matters at the end of the day is your ROI (Return on Investment).  You need to determine what that ROI is for your business. If you invested X amount in your website, how many leads/sales through that site are required for you to break even and then start turning a profit?  I know that with WordPress you will get there faster than with Wix or Weebly, even with those options being free.

The Negatives of Wix & Weebly

SEO:

With Wix & Weebly you have almost ZERO SEO.  From experience, new clients have come to me with Wix and Weebly sites that they have built themselves. They look okay, but they don’t rank well at all in Google.  And that’s even with them contributing to a regular blog.  These platforms just don’t have what it takes regarding Keywords and Performance needed for Google/Bing SEO scores. And no one wants to end up twelve pages down in a Google search.

Limited Integrations:

Wix and Weebly, and even the free Blogger version of WordPress, do not have the capacity for integrations with specialized applications. Developers haven’t invested the time and resources to create these integrations. You may get basic functionality, but it can be difficult if you want to set up sales funnels, opt-in-offers, etc.

It is clear from the above list why I recommend WordPress over Wix & Weebly. However, regardless of which platform you choose, it’s more important to do your research when deciding which company to work with.  Web design involves trusting a company to not only build a beautiful, engaging website but also to achieve your business goals for that website. Good website design should be beautiful and functional!

Watch for my upcoming blog featuring questions you should be asking your current or potential web developer before entering an agreement. The web design process should be fun! And my goal is to educate and take the stress out of the project, so you can enjoy the journey!

If you’d like to discuss your website needs with us, or for more tips like these you can follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter as well for more education and inspiration!

Deanna

What your small business in Ontario needs to know about local cookies and 3rd party cookies - what are website cookies

It may feel like talk about GDPR and Cookies came out of nowhere, however, these have been ongoing major issues for a long time. Regulation is finally catching up with the ever-expanding online world. Learn what they are, what they do, and if you can block them. Here are the basics every small business owner in Ontario should know about Local Cookies and 3rd Party Cookies.

Know the Basics: What are Cookies and What Do They Do?

When we’re talking about website cookies, we’re not talking about the delicious chocolate chip variety. Cookies are used to track and remember website visitors. Technically speaking, cookies are tiny bits of code that are placed in the browser of your computer so that a specific website may remember your specific computer.

Local Cookies vs. 3rd Party Cookies

Cookies are split into local cookies and 3rd party cookies. I will explain the differences between both further on.

Local Cookies are cookies used on and by a specific website to enhance user experience.

They can have a variety of uses such as:

  • Remembering items in a Shopping cart (e-commerce)
  • Recording that you’ve already exited a pop-up and not to show it again
  • Tracking sitewide search results to show you similar products (e-commerce)
  • Analytics Data (most websites use an analytics tracking tool, we’ll talk more about this below)

3rd Parties use cookies to track visitors’ use of their apps or extensions. If you’ve ever watched a video on a website, YouTube or Vimeo has likely been tracking your cookies.  3rd Party Cookies include:

  • Video streaming services (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
  • Sound streaming services (Soundcloud, etc.)
  • Google Adsense (Google Ads)

Here is an example of Google Adsense’s Cookies description:

“AdSense uses cookies to improve advertising. Some common applications are to target advertising based on what’s relevant to a user, to improve reporting on campaign performance, and to avoid showing ads the user has already seen. Cookies themselves contain no personally identifiable information. Depending on the publisher’s and the user’s settings, information associated with cookies used in advertising may be added to the user’s Google Account.” – Source Google AdSense

Please keep in mind that to check your preferences, especially with search engines like Google & Bing and carefully choose which information to share.  The same goes for Social Media streams like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Can You Block Cookies?

While it is possible to block local cookies, less than 5% of users choose to.  Why? Because it makes using the Internet very difficult.  You will not be able to use any website that requires you to log in (Hotmail, Gmail, stores you may have an account with, etc.) as these websites all track your personal preferences to cater the experience to you specifically.

Blocking 3rd Party Cookies however is very simple and typically has no adverse effects. To block 3rd Party Cookies you will need to look up instructions specific to your Internet Browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.).

Do You Know What Information Your Small Business Website is Collecting?

As a small business owner, you really should know the answer to this question, however the answer is likely, no.  We may think about what information we provide to websites we visit, however we rarely think about what our own site may be collecting.

To see what information your websites collect, my clients can email me for a detailed report. Otherwise, you can use this free tool at your discretion. Keep in mind, it is likely tracking your information too! Here is a free Cookie Checker.

I hope this article helped shed some light on Cookies; what they are, how to block them and how to check if your small business website is using them.

For more tips like these you can follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter as well for more education and inspiration!

Deanna