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Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

Most Amazon Prime members make an online purchase once per week, and plaintiff lawyers are delivering ADA-compliance lawsuits even faster. The Supreme Court is showing no remorse for companies whose websites are not ADA-compliant. If you get served, your only option is to pay up. Here are 6 steps some of our clients have taken to successfully operate an ADA-compliant website and avoid costly damages.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. All content and information available are for informational purposes only.

 

Step 1: Understand the Seriousness of ADA-Compliance

Gavel Statue on top of water in front building

The American Disabilities Act requires all places of public accommodation to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. It’s no surprise that in the year 2019, the world wide web is now considered a place of public accommodation (See: Title III).

In 2016, Domino’s Pizza Inc. was hit with an ADA- compliance lawsuit that claimed the website doesn’t ensure the blind and visually impaired can order food through the website or mobile app. As of October 7, 2019, the Supreme Court is refusing to review Domino’s appeal on the basis that ADA is a strict liability law, meaning there are no excuses for non-compliance violations.

Plaintiff lawyers are working overtime to serve up lawsuits for non-compliant companies. No matter how many unique visitors your website attracts, if it’s inaccessible for web users with mental or physical disabilities, your business is a target for legal action

Reports reveal that there is one web-related ADA lawsuit every working hour. This means 8 a day, 40 a week, and more than 2,000 a year. In 2018, more than 7,500 ADA suits were arraigned in federal court. Now that you understand it’s not a question of if, but when you’ll be targeted, let’s dive into the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

“While plaintiff lawyers handing out ADA-compliant lawsuits may seem predatory it is necessary and an important part of our justice system. Our government alone would not have the resources to enforce important regulations. So, these lawsuits are here to stay. Companies must know that there are consequences for non-compliance. As a business stakeholder, we have the challenge of balancing compliance, cost, and customer experience.

— Adam Morris, CEO, Redstage.

Step 2: Review Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

blur book with open page an glasses and magnifying glass on top

6.2 billion shoppers are expected to shop online this Cyber week alone, leaving eCommerce businesses vulnerable to potential lawsuits. To help you prepare, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explains how users with disabilities can access sites. While you’re in the process of strategically planning your holiday content, be sure to double-check all points of access to your store. You need to ensure your site is “perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.” For a full explanation of these terms, see the link to WCAG above.

Taking proper measures to get an ADA-compliant website will save companies time and money. This step is always forgotten, overlooked, and never budgeted for. Many helpful tools can let you know if your site passes ADA requirements and extensions that come with approved codes.

— Jignesh Joshi, Sr. Project Manager, Redstage

Step 3: Add Alternative Means of Access

Disabled woman faced with inaccessble stairs to office or college building.

Ensuring your content is ‘perceivable’ may not be the toughest task you’ll face on your ADA-compliance journey. In fact, it may even be the opposite. According to the WCAG, all images including charts and infographics must include alt-text. Since SEO and content marketing are already part of your eCommerce strategy, you’ve likely already added alt-text to all of your imagery. To make sure, take some time to go through your archive and add relevant alt-text wherever it’s missing. This process may be tedious, but site readers (software) must be able to successfully read and describe your images to the blind and visually impaired.

54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support. Naturally, videos have become a common practice for brands. All published video and audio files must also be accessible to those with disabilities. This can be achieved by including closed captions and text transcripts.

Closed captions should be accurate and in sync with video while text transcripts should accurately convey what’s in the video file. If you’re producing audio content like podcasts, you may want to pay close attention.

The WCAG updates are continuous and it can be easy to overlook minor details like fonts, for example. Make sure your fonts are clearly readable and properly displayed on a high contrast background. To play it safe, keep the standard light background and dark font. These minor changes can be a huge help for your users to easily navigate your site.

Step 4: Provide Easy Navigation for your Users

Ancient Antique Map to Represent Navigation

Luckily for our readers, we’ve been sharing tips on how to provide a fast and frictionless user experience for customers all year. If you’ve been following along, you should already be one step ahead, since user operation for ADA-compliance and frictionless experiences go hand-in-hand. When focusing on navigation, the first step is to ensure your website’s entire navigation can be fully operated via keyboard, without a mouse or touchscreen.

Users should have the ability to pause, slow down automatic movements, interact with images, and play videos through the keyboard. One tip is to stay away from auto-play to give your visitors enough time to read and process content.

Secondly, if your website doesn’t have a search function that can help your customers find products and information at ease, it’s required under the Web Accessibility Standards to have one.

Lastly, do not forget to include a site map. Remember, a positive user experience requires users to have the ability to operate your website that is understandable and feels natural. Again, you probably have one already because site maps improve your SEO.

Step 5: Website Features Should Be Understandable

Man on Laptop Looking at website with sneakers

When producing content, remember: all of your visitors must be able to read and understand it. Providing a default language function can not only keep you out of a lawsuit, but it can positively affect your conversion rate. We all know the uncomfortable feeling of standing in the middle of a conversation without understanding what is being discussed. To ensure your users and their reading assistance technology can properly function, refrain from the use of jargon, idioms, and abbreviations without properly introducing or explaining them.

Your website may already have the main functions that are considered predictable under the WCAG. Your users should be able to come to your website and predict what will happen as they interact. If you’re unsure, we have provided a brief checklist below.

  1. An X in the upper left- or right-hand corner for users to close the window.
  2. All Visible forms have instructions
  3. Navigation is consistent across all pages (Up, down, left, right,)

It may seem like a lot to fine-tune your website. Make sure you keep your developers in the loop as they’re coding and responsible for making sure your website is running smoothly. It takes a lot of work to get fully compliant. Once you’ve achieved compliance, you’ll want to keep it that way.

Step 6: Website Should Be Error-Free

black Screen with Colorful codes

While developers have a lot on their to-do list, the main priority is to make sure your website is robust enough to be considered ADA-compliant. This step may take the most time, but it can save you more than $50,000. Without getting into too much coding jargon, the overall presentation must be error-free and coded with standard HTML tags. We touched on some of these points earlier in the article, so here’s a quick checklist to review with your developers.

  1. Clear Descriptive Text
  2. Nested Headings
  3. Clear Forms
  4. Uniform Labels
  5. Section Labels
  6. Clean Code

Keep in mind that the work you do to make your site accessible benefits ALL users, not just those who may have disabilities. You will see the positive results of providing an accessible, easy-to-use site almost immediately.

—Kevin Rydberg, Managing Accessibility Consultant, Siteimprove

Final Thoughts

Remember,  reaching ADA-compliance is a process with many steps to complete. With an estimated 30% increase in lawsuits this year, there’s no time to waste. Remember, the information provided in this blog does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Our trusted partners at Siteimprove can help you pinpoint accessibility issues that can potentially put your site at risk of an ADA-compliance lawsuit. Consider them your first step to protection before lawyering up. They can get you involved in a program that will help shield you from those who would target your online store. Do not hesitate to get a powerful, free website report and request a Demo here.

If you’re looking for a more robust, comprehensive solution to cover all holiday risks (including security, bug monitoring, and ADA-compliance, check out Redstage’s new security and maintenance bundle here. Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions! We’re always happy to help.

10 Articles To Strengthen Your Holiday Ecommerce Strategy

10 Articles To Strengthen Your Holiday Ecommerce Strategy

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, retailers and e-marketers have a lot on their minds. With touchpoints coming from multiple directions across your customer journey, it’s easy to overlook critical components that can immediately affect your revenue goals. To keep you on track, we created this holiday roadmap that covers every part of your funnel. Grab some hot chocolate, scroll through our list, and rest easy while your holiday sales jump like Jordan.

1.   The Difference Between Good & Great Content.

There are multiple ways to leverage content to hit different audiences. However, doing so well enough to generate leads, encourage customer loyalty, upsell, and build trust can prove challenging. In these 3 blog posts, we share a few gems to help you produce content that engages and will continue to drive value far beyond the holiday season. If your content marketing strategy doesn’t utilize these key principles, it’s not too late to inject them into your plan. Take a look and maybe grab an idea or two to spice up your content.

Content marketing should be a major cornerstone in your marketing arsenal. By providing valuable, free content, that builds customer empathy, you will attract and convert new prospects into brand-loyal customers. The caveat to producing great content is having the foresight to produce content that aligns with customer interests, while continuously delivering new content that your customers hunger for.

— Christopher Yin, Creative Director, Redstage

Revenue Increase With Good Content

Key Take-Aways:

Know your audience and create content that hits them on a personal level. What are their interests and hobbies? What are the causes they care about? With a more complex buying process, B2B companies may want to consider producing content that hists each part of the sales funnel. Are you helping your audience think critically about the industry? How can you make your customers better-skilled professionals Furthermore, how can you align your brand with these things in a way that’s authentic and true to your brand?

The Difference Between Good & Great Content Marketing.

Top 5 Trends in B2B Personalization & Social Selling.

What Prime Day Can Teach Us About Holiday Sales.

2.  How to Stop Your Store from Crashing

Thanks to your engaging and authentic content, customers are flocking to your store. Lucky for you, holiday spending is expected to increase by 5% this year, but most customers won’t be visiting your physical location. More than half (around 53%) of your holiday customers will shop exclusively online. This surge in traffic has the potential to cause a lot of stress on your server, causing crashes or bugs that leave your customers aggravated or empty-handed.

You’ve worked hard to build trust and develop customer loyalty, you can’t fail them now, and with our help, you won’t.

The holidays are a time of increased profits, but that comes with a huge load on websites. So if you haven’t done proper stress testing to account for higher demand, you won’t know how your online store is going to react.

Adam Morris, CEO at Redstage

Revenue loss and Conversion Rate

Key Take-Aways:

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Your customers won’t let you off the hook if you give them a poor experience, especially if you’re a wholesaler or manufacturer who has an inaccurate count of inventory. Twitter can be your best friend or worst enemy. Check out these articles to ensure you stick with the former by properly monitoring your site and completing our performance checklist. These 4 articles will help you optimize and digitally strengthen your store for the holidays.

Ghosts Of Black Fridays Past: 3 Crucial Warnings For Retailers.

Black Friday Countdown: 4 Critical Last-Minute Store Optimizations.

Black Friday Countdown: 8 Omnichannel & Back Office Final Touches.

Q&A with Redstage’s Adam Morris: Prep for Black Friday 2018.

3. How To Unlock More Mobile Holiday Revenue

By now you have done the research and collected the data. You know your customers’ buying habits, likes, and dislikes.  You now only have 1 shot and a couple of seconds to impress them with frictionless and secure customer experiences. 32% of consumers change their minds about making a mobile purchase by abandoning their carts. Getting this step right can potentially cut your mobile cart abandonment in half. A part of stress testing your site is assessing your checkout funnel and you can do so with the Mobile Optimization Initiative. This blog can get you thinking with a mobile-first customer experience mentality so that you are not missing out on your share in over $500 billion.

Smart A/B testing based on data-driven analysis gives you insights that lead to successful, simple changes that can have a big impact on increasing your revenue per visitor.

Benjamin Shapiro, Solutions Engineer, Redstage

Revenue Loss and CART ABANDONMENT

Key Take-Aways:

Doing it right the first time can save you the trouble in the end. Potential consumers and corporate buyers want to check out with ease, the sooner you begin simplifying the check-out process the better your site will perform The sooner you start, the better your site will perform. Better performance means staying one step ahead of your competitors.

How to Unlock More Mobile Holiday Revenue.

4. How to Defend Your Store from Cybercriminals

You have done your due diligence and can sit back and enjoy your holiday. Not exactly. While customers are increasingly shopping online, there is a huge risk that their data can be exposed. You may have heard of some common hacks such as phishing, payment fraud, and account take over.  With an expectation of a $22 billion loss this year due to fraud this section is a must-read. Here you will find the top 3 tactics hackers will use to attack your eCommerce site and how to keep your store and customers safe. We also joined forces with our trusted partner Trustpilot to give you 7 ways to improve your website’s trust signal.

Merchants need to start with an honest evaluation of what fraud costs your company. This isn’t just the money you lose on fraudulent orders you ship; it also includes all the time your staff puts into screening orders as well as the revenue lost to rejected orders which may have been safe. When you add up all these costs, the price of top fraud prevention solutions starts to look a lot more attractive.

— Oliver Sosinsky, Sr. Solutions Engineer, Redstage.

Revenue loss through payment fraud

Key Take-Aways:

Your customers deserve the same amount of protection as your store and protecting their privacy must be a priority. Monitoring is both crucial and necessary in keeping your customers and store safe. However, investing in a well-vetted Anti-Fraud Solution can ease your worries.

7 Ways to Improve Your Website’s Trust Signals.

3 Tactics Hackers Will Use Against Ecommerce Store Security This Holiday.

3 Stopgaps to Ensure Your Holiday Strategy Goes As Planned…

Ready or not, the holiday rush is coming, and it is up to you to properly prepare. B2C companies are rising at a steady pace and facing many challenges starting at the top of the sales funnel. However, B2B companies can learn a thing or two as they play a key role in ensuring B2C’s and their customers are benefiting from their product or services. Customers and their unpredictable demands and expectations are inevitableTo produce a safe, frictionless, shopping experience, both B2B and B2C companies must work in sync to increase conversion.

Whether it be online or a brick and mortar, your ultimate goal for this holiday season is to make a profit while increasing brand loyalty. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors here are 3 action steps, you should take.

  1. Learn more about the Mobile Optimization Initiative and sign up for a free consultation here.
  2. Schedule a free consultation to find out what testing feature is best for your site here.
  3. Schedule a consultation to find out which security bundle fits your site’s needs here.
The Difference Between Good & Great Content Marketing

The Difference Between Good & Great Content Marketing

Whether you’re a retailer or service-based business, content is your secret weapon to driving business onward and upward. Creating content that resonates and aligns with your brand (and audience) isn’t an easy task. However, experts agree it’s worth taking time to produce quality content. If content marketing isn’t a key part of your strategy by now, consider making it a top priority in the new year.

“Content marketing should be a major cornerstone in your marketing arsenal. By providing valuable, free content, that builds customer empathy, you will attract and convert new prospects into brand-loyal customers. The caveat to producing great content is having the foresight to produce content that aligns with customer interests, while continuously delivering new content that your customers hunger for.”

— Christopher Yin, Creative Director, Redstage

There are many platforms and channels that make it easy for people to find, consume, and share content. As a result, it’s even more challenging for companies to connect with consumers. Retailers understand that creating a holistic consumer experience is a significant challenge. On the other hand, B2B companies are challenged with building loyalty and relationships within their customer base. However, there are still traditional touchpoints like email, case studies, social media, e-books, and mobile apps that customers rely on to fulfill their content needs. Each of these channels is a spoke on the content marketer’s flywheel. Here‘s how to produce “Evergreen” content that can continue to drive value far into the future across all channels.

1. Empower Customers with Brand Storytelling

Content is a form of storytelling. Your end goal may be selling a product or service, but your customers want to know if that product can relate to their journey or benefit their business, before completing a transaction.

Melanie Allen, the CMO of Brooks says “I don’t focus on the brands, I focus on the runners,” stating the importance of getting into your customer’s head to create effective content that engages customers.

2. Resonate

Technology and human nature are now intertwined. Understanding this can help with the creative process. To resonate with and evoke emotion from your audience, your content needs to:

  • Create impact and opportunity
  • Drive purpose or connect to a social cause
  • Contain thought leadership
  • Feel organic, authentic, and true to the brand

 

3. Source Creativity, Rather than Influencers

Influencer marketing is meant to impact consumer behavior and drive sales through the use of public figures with large followings. However, this strategy is becoming overused and influencers pitching product after product seem inauthentic to audiences. Additionally, it’s important to select an influencer that has a direct connection to your brand messaging and mission. Constellation brands, for instance, chose an influencer who published photos regularly, sharing her love for Corona Extra and all things summer. It was a natural choice to pick her to move forward with additional promotion strategies.

Also, the Corona brand delved into cause marketing this year with a “Pay With Plastic” campaign to clean up beaches. The plastic waste collected was turned into Adirondack chairs, which were repurposed for in-store displays. When you think of Corona, you think of summer and the beach, so what better way to connect with customers on a more intimate level than with a cause today’s consumers care about?

According to several panels at Advertising Week New York, the best marketers are those who give equal attention to both content, products, and data. They do this by testing various methods, analyzing the results, and incorporating a natural message. Think outside the box to create a conversation between your audience and your brand. Help them think critically about the industry. Remember, visual communication resonates better than written when it comes to online, mobile, and OOH audiences.

4. Data Quality Is Everything

There should always be a purpose behind creating content and each piece of content should have a specific objective you want to achieve before your pen hits the paper. Not even a simple twitter post should be published without a particular goal in mind. Here are some KPIs today’s top brands use to track content engagement and value:

  • Interaction: How much time is your audience spending interacting with your content?
  • Emotional Engagement: Is your audience finding, reading, loving, remembering and sharing your content?
  • Brand Building: Is your brand expanding, lifting and converting?

 

Think about the ritual your customers go through when engaging with your brand. When do they use your product? When do they buy it? How do they buy it? Determining the “Magic Moment” when your product solves the customer’s problem should be the epicenter of customer stories and content that revolves around that ritual. For runners, content about different routes, trails, or morning routines could be a trigger to buy a new kind of shoe or water bottle. If new mothers are your target, a blog about a child’s first steps or first finger painting can touch your customer’s heart and connect with them with your brand products on a deeper level.

Final Thoughts

There are many creative strategies to ensure you are producing the best content possible for your audience. B2B companies should be producing content at every part of the sales funnel to see an ROI. While these tips can be helpful in the planning process, it is also important not to limit yourself in the creative process. Don’t be afraid to dream big and be bold or educate and entertain, as long as your ideas are anchored to your customers’ lives, habits, and connection to your brand. With content marketing comes the need to personalize, track, and measure the effectiveness of your messaging. Learn more about the top 5 ways e-commerce companies are making the most of their content marketing in our blog post: Top 5 Trends in Personalization and Social Selling!

If you missed out on  Advertising Week this year, be sure to check them out for further updates and information.