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Everything You Need to Know About Section 508 Website Accessibility - web design - raleigh - 90 Degree

What You Need to Know About Section 508 Website Accessibility

By | Accessibility, Web Design

Everything You Need to Know About Section 508 Website Accessibility

Imagine you are blind. You’re sitting with your computer or phone, just like you are now. How would you read this?

There are 56.7 million Americans with disabilities today — and they all need to use technology. Think about how much you do on the internet. You shop, search for jobs and gather important information about everything from taxes to the school system.

That’s why it’s important that websites are accessible to everyone.

What is Section 508?

In the late 1990s, Section 508 was added to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law requires that those with disabilities have equal access to electronic information. Section 508 applies to a variety of technology, but we’ll just focus on websites since that’s what we do here at 90 Degree Design.

In January 2017, the U.S. Access Board updated Section 508 requirements to:

  • Make them easier to understand and follow
  • Increase accessibility for those with disabilities
  • Adapt to technology changes
  • Align with other standards in the U.S. and abroad

The changes went into effect in January 2018.

Does Section 508 apply to my website?

Section 508 applies to:

  • All federal agencies
  • Groups that work with federal agencies, such as private contractors, vendors, and partners
  • Schools and other organizations that receive federal funding

Private businesses can (and do) face lawsuits. So it’s important to note that you may be required to meet other standards even if Section 508 does not apply to you. Section 508 is different from the Americans with Disabilities Act, for example, so it’s a good idea to check your website for ADA compliance.

Regardless of the legal implications, it’s always best practice to design your website for all users. Americans with disabilities have $175 billion in discretionary spending, so they’re certainly an important audience for private businesses.

What are the Section 508 requirements?

There are many aids to help those with vision, hearing, motor function and other limitations. Section 508 is primarily focused on ensuring websites are built to function with this assistive technology.

The law requires that websites follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. There you can find a thorough website accessibility checklist.

For example, websites should:

  • Provide text alternatives for content such as photos, maps, videos and data tables, so that they can be turned into other forms like audio or Braille
  • Organize and label the back-end of the site so users’ technology can identify where they are on a site, navigate and find content 
  • Offer options without color for those who are color blind
  • Minimize the frequency of screen flickering to avoid seizures

What does this mean for you?
You can have a website that legally checks all the boxes but isn’t actually easy to use. So it’s important to find a team that specializes in the user experience.

While there are online tools to see if your site meets the legal requirements, it’s best to work with an expert. Our team is well-versed in Section 508 standards, so check out our Section 508 web services or get in touch with questions.

Here are a few other resources to help you out:

what you need to know before investing in professional web design - web design raleigh - 90 degree

Investing In Professional Web Design: What You Need To Know

By | Services, Web Design

Once you’ve decided to launch a new business venture, there are various tasks to undertake. Everything from business type to structure to start-up capital is a task to be completed on the to-do list. However, one of the most important initial steps is the creation of a website. In the modern professional climate, a website is not only the best way for potential customers to find you but also the easiest way to tell people who you are and what you offer.

While there are numerous do-it-yourself options for website creation, nothing comes close to the quality you get from professional web design. While hiring a professional designer is an investment of time and capital, it is well worth the effort. The final product is not only one that will represent your business well, but also one that will get you results. Here is what you need to know about investing in professional web design:

  • You get what you pay for: Small businesses have small budgets; this is a fact of life for a new venture. However, there are some aspects of the start-up process that necessitate a bit more investment. Professional website design is such an area. It’s one thing to find a budget-friendly company with which to work; quite another to pay a high school buddy $50 to do your website. The latter is probably going to be characterized by lots of broken links, poorly-written content and a design straight out of the days of dial-up. The mantra “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies here. Any company or individual charging significantly less than the average is probably doing so for a reason. Don’t compromise on quality for one of the most significant pieces of your marketing plan.
  • It’s okay to have a voice: While the designer is the professional, you should still have a say in the outcome of your website. You might not be the expert, but no one can tell your story better than you. Communicate what you want your site to say and how you want to represent your brand in your initial consultation. It’s fine to ask for some ideas or examples, but also give honest input on the direction. Working together ensures the best outcome.
  • Don’t forget about maintenance: One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make is forgetting about site maintenance once the initial project is up and running. Your website will require updates as you grow and evolve. There are also some operational aspects of your site that will require maintenance on schedule. Work with your designer to determine appropriate intervals for these updates to ensure that your website runs smoothly.
  • Speed is still a factor: A professional website design should be aesthetically pleasing, but it should also run as efficiently as possible. Website visitors are fickle and a site that takes too long to load is more likely to be bypassed.
  • You only get one chance at a first impression: If your home page is not appealing or engaging, visitors won’t dive into the rest of the site. Expend the most effort on the home page to ensure that it not only grabs the visitor’s attention but also quickly and effectively explains what your business is all about and why your products or services outshine that of the competition.
  • Give your designer time: If you’ve put off website design until the day before your business is set to open, it’s not realistic to create a quality website without careful planning and execution.  Give your designer plenty of time to put together a website that is reflective of your company’s mission, but also creatively designed and well-written.
The Importance Of Business Photography - 90 degree- raleigh

The Importance Of Business Photography

By | Digital Marketing, Start-Ups, Web Design

There are numerous visual representations of your business – from website design to logos and beyond. However, nothing is more visually beneficial than actual photographs of your products/services, your physical space and you/your staff. Photographs give customers a clear visual characterization of your business. They add a personal touch missing from graphic elements and offer another method of connection. However, marketing and branding – even through photography – should be professional and polished. Therefore, the importance of quality business photography cannot be overstated.

In other words, selfies just won’t do.

Good business photography conveys an image that not only engenders trust from customers and partners, but also it speaks to your credibility. As a business owner, you command a certain level of reverence and respect. Using vacation selfies or overly casual photos for advertising does not communicate that message.

Professional business photography is a must. Dress the part, depending on your industry. This means suit-and-tie for a formal business (legal, finance, administrative, etc.) or industry-appropriate attire for a niche endeavor. For example, a chef’s jacket is appropriate attire for a catering business photo shoot, while stylish, trendy garb is ideal for a retail shop owner. Choose something that is professional, but also representative of your industry.

Work with a professional on your business photography. While this is an added expense that you may feel as though you can ill afford, the pictures will pay for themselves in professional integrity and polish for your marketing materials. People are more likely to take you seriously with professional business photos and you can use them extensively across platforms of all types.

Take a variety of different shots to highlight all the different aspects of your business. Approach product shots from varying angles and update them often in advertising. Get some great headshots of yourself for business social media pages and any bio needs. Seek environmental shots for print and digital marketing purposes. Get shots of your staff because they are working just as hard as you are to get your business off the ground and deserve to be involved in promotions. The more variety you have in your business photography, the more options you have for any type of advertising endeavor you opt to use in promoting your company.

While some staged shots are appropriate, candid shots are important as well. People like to see you engaged as a business owner. If you own a storefront, then get the photographer to capture you in action with some of your customers. If you provide a service, ask the photographer to capture you performing said service. The more that people can relate to your photographs, the visibility your photographs will bring your company.

Maintaining Your WordPress Website – 90 Degree – Web Design Raleigh

Maintaining Your WordPress Website

By | Services, Web Design

WordPress is most commonly known as a platform for blogging and content management. However, for small businesses without an existing website presence, it is one of the easiest ways to get something up quickly while you embark on a more in-depth website design. It is also an option for businesses that don’t really benefit from an expensive website investment but would like at least some semblance of an online presence for informational purposes. Maintaining your WordPress website is easy; however, it can be time consuming if you don’t have a streamlined process in place. It’s important to learn the various functions of WordPress, so that you can easily maneuver around the platform when you need to make updates to your website.

WordPress has thousands of possible themes, which means that you can – and may be tempted to – change the design of your site at will. Try to avoid changing it too frequently as consistency is key to brand recognition. Take the time to peruse the various design elements prior to getting started, so that once you’ve decided on a theme, you can stick with it.

It is also imperative to take the time to learn the various plug-ins when you set up your website. Because WordPress is all about usability, the plug-ins are easy to install and can significantly increase functionality. Plug-ins are meant for everything from photo inclusion to search engine optimization (SEO) to social media sharing. Use them not only to ensure that your site is easy to access, but also to enhance searchability. It’s important to note that search engines do look at WordPress sites favorably because the content is generally updated more frequently. So, if you optimize your site effectively and continuously upload fresh content, you should see results from increased visibility.

Take the time to ensure that plug-ins that you opt for add efficiency. Too many plug-ins will ultimately slow down your website and could even compromise the security of it.

Back up your WordPress website as part of a larger maintenance routine. If something goes wrong during maintenance, you will at least have a recent version to which to restore your site until you figure out what happened. WordPress makes it easy with a plug-in that does this automatically, based on the frequency in which you want backups to occur (monthly is ideal).

Comb through your WordPress website every time you maintain it to find dead links or outdated content. Even if your website is not the primary source of information for your business, it is another source of information. Take care to ensure that the content makes any conversions you do garner easy for visitors.

the importance of website content

The Importance of Website Content

By | Web Design

All the design and fancy animations in the World won’t fix poor website content.

First impressions are everything – in life and business. In today’s technology-driven environment, your company’s first impression is its website. It is likely to be the first place that potential clients go to learn more about what you offer. It is the initial representation of your brand. Expending resources on a high-quality website is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make in your burgeoning business. In tandem with a professional web designer, it’s important to carefully consider every detail of your website from photos to design elements to content.

While eye-catching website design may initially draw visitors in, good content is what engages and keeps them. Given the importance of content, it should be the starting point to cultivating your web presence. What makes the design of your website effective is the harmonious relationship between the design elements and content. The result of this combination is a clear conveyance of what your company is all about – from its mission to core values to distinguishing characteristics that make you stand out among others in your industry.

Some companies attempt to create content on their own, which can be a huge misstep. Professional content creation ensures that your website does what it is meant to – get results. Attempting to curate copy on your own may lead to delays in the design and backend implementation of your website because quality and/or errors need to be addressed. Poorly-written content can have a devastating impact on your reputation. According to the NN Group, businesses have just 10 seconds to make an impression with design and content for their website visitors. If the person is not engaged by that point, they generally leave. This equals a missed opportunity. Substandard content not only fails to introduce the visitor to your business, but it may deter them from even wanting to know more.

Writing engaging content that compels website visitors to action is no easy feat. After all, content with an overt marketing slant may be overpowering, while content that has no call-to-action at all may not do enough to compel visitors to respond. Good content falls somewhere in the middle, educating potential clients about your product or service while also drawing on your business experience to establish credibility. It also incorporates search engine optimization (SEO) features to make your website visible in online search results. Moreover, it gives visitors a clear sense of what your business is all about and gives them reason to want to know more. From this point, your content may persuade them to try your product or service or research your company more in-depth through reviews or social media.

This is all good news for you as a small business owner because it means that your website content has just given you an opening to prove your value. Consider that quality web content with a call to action generates three times the leads as other forms of marketing but costs significantly less. There’s no better investment in your business than the ability to share your story through content and design and realize tangible results from your web presence.

3 Tips To Help You Get The Web Design You Want

3 Tips To Help You Get The Web Design You Want

By | Design, Design Blog, Services, Web Design

Are you ready for a new web design? Before you begin work with your chosen web design agency, there are a few things to keep in mind that will set you up for success during the design process. Getting a new website should be fun and signal an exciting fresh start for your business, but if you fall into some all-to-common pitfalls, the design process can begin to drag on and become confusing. Avoid a frustrating design experience with the following useful tips.

Three Tips For Achieving Web Design Success

1. Be clear about what you are looking for in a design.

Web designers are typically quite good at interpreting design concepts, but don’t assume that they can read your mind. Just like any relationship, communication is key. When entering into a new relationship with your web design agency, be sure to offer them plenty of information about your business. Some examples could include: what you are hoping to achieve with your new website (i.e., customer conversion, newsletter signups, brand awareness, etc.), what kind of timeline you are looking for and any other little details that you feel might be important for the agency to know about your brand.

The right agency will try to pair you with a designer who is most likely to be a good fit for your project from the beginning, but it is still important to remember that everyone has different tastes. Don’t give your designer “free reign” unless you clearly understand their aesthetic. Design is conceptual, and you may be displeased with what they dream up for you. Bottom line…don’t be shy about telling them what you are looking for in a website!

2. Present your designer with examples of what you like.

Have you seen another website or graphic design that inspires you? Don’t be afraid to come to the table with links to other sites that you think are well done. You should never copy another website, but showing some examples of what you find inspiring will help your designer come up with new ideas based on your interests. Different terminology and descriptives can be misunderstood, so having visual examples will help guide the process in the right direction from the start.

3. Be patient.

Rome was not built overnight, and your website design will not be either. The design process can often take multiple rounds before you reach perfection. If the first round of design mock-ups you receive is not exactly what you were hoping for, do not get discouraged. Simply talk through what exactly is not working for you with the designer. Again, use clear communication and present examples when necessary. They will listen to your feedback, and you will likely be more pleased with the next round.

Are you looking for a new web design agency? 90 Degree offers best in class design and we work with a variety of platforms including WordPress websites, eCommerce solutions such as custom Shopify, and fully custom-coded website development solutions.

Request a website development proposal today!

web design trends that work – 90 degree – web design

Web Design Trends That Work

By | Digital Marketing, Web Design

Much like the rest of the “interwebs,” web design is continuously evolving. Staying on trend is particularly important for business owners. It is less about being trendy, however, and more about ensuring that your website design remains highly functional, offers a good user experience and most importantly, effectively drives new business.

Why Your Web Design Matters

When users visit your website, there should be no mystery as to why they are there. You have more than likely been found by search or referral, and therefore, it should be apparent what the user was searching for when they found you.

Can you solve their problem?

Does your product or service fulfill their need?

Is your content of value?

The team at 90 Degree Design put our heads together to come up with some of the most important things to consider when building or refining a website.

User Experience

Consider the entire user experience from the perspective of an actual user. It is easy to get caught up in a particular vision or design, but what is really important is to understand why a user is visiting the website in the first place. Make sure what they are looking for is quickly accessible. In general, users will only stay on your site for 30 seconds or less to try and find what they are looking for. Make sure that your value prop and call-to-action are front and center.

Homepage Design

When designing a homepage or landing page, keep in mind that this will be your first (and likely only) chance to grab someone’s attention. Consider what needs to be featured and make sure that your design highlights that feature. Perhaps people need to see a “make a reservation” widget, or callout of your services menu; whatever the case may be, your design should be built around the most important feature so that it cannot be missed.

Content

According to 90 Degree Design CEO Julie Jensen, one of the biggest things that people don’t realize is how important copy is. ” You almost can’t even think about designing a truly custom site unless you already have the majority of the content in hand.”

Website content should be built out to both tell the story of your brand as well as optimized for SEO (search engine optimization). Your content needs to make sense and help viewers identify your brand, but it also needs to be functional and lend itself to searchability.

Photography

Don’t forget about the imagery. Good photography is so important for a website, especially if your website is photo-heavy. Lousy photography can make a beautiful design look terrible. It can also make your brand be interpreted as “sloppy,” “new,” or “unprofessional.” It pays to invest in good photography while you are investing time and money into new web design.

Need help with your website? We would love to create a customized project estimate for your business. Request a proposal today.

 

5 Simple Ways to Secure Your Website

By | Uncategorized, Web Design | No Comments

 

Cyber Security is becoming more of an issue each day.  If your business has a website, making it is secure should be one of your top priorities.  Even if you consider your website small or unknown, hackers could still attack it.  Website owners who fall victim to hackers may experience crashed websites, loss or ransoming of important data, or potentially being used as a host for distribution of malware.  Here are five simple ways you can keep your website secure:

Update Your Software

Regardless of what type of software you used to build your site, it is your responsibility to make sure it’s up to date. The older versions of software often contain bugs in the coding that can make it easy for hackers to accomplish their goal.  Updating software for most modern Content Management Systems is fairly quick & simple.

Switch to HTTPS

HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP.  When you transfer your website from HTTP to HTTPS, all communications between a browser and your website will be encrypted.  If your website features online shopping order forms or confidential transactions, HTTPS is particularly important.  Your web developer or sometimes even your web hosting company will be able to help you switch to https by installing an SSL Certificate.

Use Strong Passwords

Although this may seem like an obvious cybersecurity tip, many people choose passwords that are easy to remember rather than ones that are strong and difficult for hackers to predict.  Be sure your passwords are a combination of upper and lower case letters and contain symbols as well as numbers.  In addition to ensuring your passwords are strong, remember to change them on a regular basis.

Disguise Your Admin Directories

Hackers can easily access the data on your website by going straight to your admin directories.  Rather than naming your admin directories with words such as “login” or “admin,” choose names that hackers would not be able to guess.

Install a Web Application Firewall

The purpose of a web application firewall is to analyze, block, or filter out bad traffic.  It can be hardware or software based and offers an additional layer of protection against hackers.  By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of finding out that your website was hacked and protect your business as a result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

keywords and seo _ search engine optimization

Understanding Keywords and SEO

By | Digital Marketing, Local SEO, Services, Web Design

Congratulations, you have a new website. After hours of design iterations, you have a look and feel that is perfect for your brand. Now what? Will your site show up in search?

How will people find your brand? Of course, the idea here is that you have such compelling brand power that people are just seeking your brand out by name. Brand recognition is a process that takes time, and although big brands that have been around for decades may garner this kind of search power, the reality for most brands, particularly those just starting out, few people are searching for you by name.

Content

Search engines don’t care what your website looks like, but they do care about what you put on it. Your website needs to be more than just a pretty face. What is on the inside is what really counts.
Content matters. Content is still king, queen and everything in between. Now, to be clear, we are not advocating for skimping on design. Consumers will care what your website looks like, and it should be representative of your brand. But, if you want to appear in search results, you better have a content strategy in place.

Keyword Research

Don’t tell your high school English teacher we mentioned this, but outside of generally good on-page website optimization, keywords are likely the most important thing that you should focus on when creating content. Again, let us not underestimate the importance of proper grammar. If you want your business to be taken seriously by consumers, spelling counts.

But, we are talking about searchability here. If you’re going to be found in a search, then you need to have the right keywords baked into your content. People use search engines like Google to look for solutions. Your business offers a product or service that can be their solution. In order to rank in search results, your content must contain the popular keywords found in the search term people are using.

Title Tags and Alternate Text

Your most important keywords should be appropriately highlighted using title or header tags. These tags are what search engines use to identify content that you have deemed as “important” on this page. The <h1> tag, for example, is the largest, boldest font on a website page. Use of these tags should be reserved for the content that you want to bring both to the reader’s attention as well as let search engines know that you offer a solution to the search.

*Pro Tip: Do not turn all of the content on your page into header font. This action won’t make your content anymore significant to Google, and your audience will think you are yelling at them.

Alternate text is another commonly overlooked function of searchability. Pay attention to image search. Featuring stunning images or infographics on your website will undoubtedly make you stand out to visitors, but only if they find you. Be sure to take time to label all of your images and associate relevant titles and descriptions with them. Left untouched, they are irrelevant in search.

Confused about content and search or wondering if your website stands up? Request a proposal from 90 Degree Design today. We build brands that get discovered.

11 Characteristics of Highly Effective Landing Pages

11 Characteristics of Highly Effective Landing Pages

By | Digital Marketing, Uncategorized, Web Design

Landing pages are designed to push a website visitor down the conversion funnel so that they can become a lead or even a sale. If you are a business owner, you must put a great deal of time and energy into creating highly effective landing pages that generate new customers and grow your business. Here is a list of the top 10 characteristics of highly effective landing pages:

Fast Page Load Time – The average website visitor does not have the patience to wait for a page to load. Therefore, you should make sure that your landing pages load in 3 seconds or less. If your landing pages take more than 3 seconds to load, website visitors will likely abandon them.

H1 Tag with a Relevant Keyword – The HTML tag that indicates a heading on a website is known as the H1 tag. Your H1 tag must include a keyword that is relevant to your business. For example, if you are selling kitchen appliances in Charlotte, your H1 tag should say “Kitchen Appliances in Charlotte.”

Short Copy – When it comes to copy on your landing pages, less is more. Website visitors skim content rather than read it so keeping your landing page copy short, sweet, and to the point is the way to go. Instead of filling your landing pages with paragraphs, ensure they contain bullet points and short statements that do not overwhelm website visitors.

High-Quality Images – Your landing pages should include high-quality images that are relevant to your product or service. Images can spark visitor attention, engage emotions, and build trust. If possible, use original images rather than ones you purchase online.

No-Index, No-Follow – To stop search engines from crawling your landing pages and penalizing them for duplicate content and improper optimization, you should place no-index, no-follow tags on them.

Great CTA – The call to action or CTA can make or break your landing pages, making it imperative that you have a great CTA. A great CTA is placed in the path of a website visitor, features compelling copy, is in a button format, uses a contrasting color, and does not compete with the other elements of the pages.

It should direct your website visitor to buy a product, fill out a form, call a phone number, subscribe to a newsletter, or perform any other action that will help your business thrive.

Trust Signals – Trust signals are displayed on landing pages to help potential customers feel secure in their decision to buy a specific product or surface. Some examples of trust signals are customer testimonials, social plugins, and third-party badges and certifications.

Effortless Forms – When it comes to landing page forms, you should make sure you only ask for the information you need, use radio buttons to reduce typing, use directional visual cues, and spend time writing the CTA. Forms should also be mobile-friendly.

Contact Information – Visitors shouldn’t have to dig for contact information on your landing pages. It should be placed in an area that is easily seen.

Conversion Tracking – In order to determine the success of your landing pages, you should track conversions. You can do so through Google Analytics and/or Google AdWords.

Minimal Links – It may surprise you that while it’s good to include links to other resources on your site pages that you want the search engines to love, it is NOT best practice for landing pages. Minimize opportunities for the user to go anywhere else on your site before completing a conversion goal.

By keeping these characteristics of highly effective landing pages in mind, you can capture new customers, keep existing ones, and meet your business goals.