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We've written some insightful, entertaining articles that span topics from support to design to content management and beyond!




This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

A bunch of polaroid photos on a table

 

Thoughtfully used pictures on websites go a long way. Not only are they used for decorative purposes and to spruce up the look and feel of your website. When strategically chosen and placed, images and graphics become a source of understanding the information presented on your website.

 

When it comes to AODA and the WCAG 2.0 it is imperative that images, videos and any content that isn’t text have some form of alternative text (Alt-Text) allowing them to be accessible to those with visual impairments. When using a screen-reader Alt Text become important so that computer programs can recognize and correctly describe images on a web page. When our designers and developers create AODA websites a significant amount of work goes into ensuring your images are correctly placed and have suitable Alt Texts attached in the code to ensure compliance.

 

When choosing images for your websites, our designers are sure to follow W3C’s Image Classification rules to ensure Alt Texts are assigned according to the images placed on your website. Some of the classifications are as follows:

  • Informative: Used to represent concepts or information

  • Decorative: Used to enhance the aesthetic and do not convey information

  • Functional: Used to represent functionality on the page

  • Complex: Used to simplify the representation of complex data

 

Our Customer Success Team will ensure that moving forward when you’re updating your websites, you are prepared to make use of our tools to easily update/add Alt Text to any images that you place on your website moving forward. This way you’re ensuring that images are accessible to those with visual impairments or those with other various disabilities.

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Graphics comparing good versus bad colour contrast

 

When designing your website, we enjoy being adventurous with our clients, especially when it comes to the colours you choose. Your website truly is your brand, an online reference to who you are and it’s extremely important that your design and colour scheme match who you are and what you stand for. When designing websites that need to be AODA compliant our designers and developers need to go the extra mile to ensure the colours you choose are both representative of you and fall within the compliance parameters of WCAG 2.0. This could be a tricky feat and here is why.

 

Colour Contrast

People with colour deficiencies and low vision may have difficulties viewing your website depending on the colours that you use. It is incredibly important that the contrast ratios comply with the requirements allowing people to receive information from your website visually. When choosing colours and fonts our designers and developers must following the following regulations:

  • Contrast– minimum ratio of 4.5:1

  • Bold & 14pt or 18pt + colour contrast ratio of 3:1

  • Add text labels to colour pickers

  • Use texture to complement colour information

  • Text on images should always use as high contrast as possible

  • Incidental/Decorative items such as logos are exempt

  • Colour Contrast Checkers: Web Aim Color Checker & CCA

 

Visual Hierarchy

Another very important aspect of AODA compliance is the ability to visually organize design elements in order of importance. This becomes mainly apparent when someone is using a device or screen reader to navigate content and information presented on a web page – typically this is done by tabbing on a specific type of keyboard.

 

In order for devices to navigate the content accordingly, headings must be strategically placed to allow a reader to comprehend the content, our designers and developers ensure the information is presented in an organized manner by making use of the correct Headings on a page:

  • Heading 1 – Only to be used once on a page

  • Heading 2 – Must be at least 1-point size smaller and follow an H1. Can have different styles

  • Heading 3 – Again must be smaller than H2. Is to be used as a subheading for H2 only

  • Heading 4 – must be smaller than H3. Is to be used as a subheading for H3 only and so on

 

When adding content to your website or designing the layout, it is extremely important to keep these regulations in mind. If you have any more question in regards to AODA compliance, or the information from this blog, please reach out to us!

 

Make your website AODA compliant! Visit aodawebsites.ca

AODA Websites logo

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Graphic depicting AODA compliance

 

Now that we have established the importance of being AODA compliant in a previous blog. We will touch on some of the pieces that make your website compliant. First, we need to understand the importance of compliance, in the world of digital marketing we need to remind ourselves the larger the audience we reach the better it is for our businesses. Currently 15% of Ontarians have a disability, that is 1 in 7 Canadians above the age of 15, 80% of these Canadians reported to use an assistive device. This is potentially a large untapped market for your business if your website is not AODA compliant.

 

Providing you with a laundry list of updates our designers and developers do when creating compliant sites would be far too granular. We will highlight main challenges and some best practices we follow to ensure your website is geared to all Canadians, regardless of their abilities. After rigorous training, our senior designers learned about the AODA’s four core principles and the twelve corresponding Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). They are as follows:

 


 

Think POUR:

 

Be Perceivable - All content on a website should be distinguishable

  • All non-text content should have alternatives

  • Video content should have alternatives

  • Create content that can be easily be displayed in multiple formats

  • The level of contrast between foreground and background should be distinguishable

 

Be Operable – All content should be useable

  • Website functionality should be keyboard accessible

  • Provide users flexible time to read and use content

  • Avoid animated flashes and blinking

  • Provide tools for wayfinding

 

Be Understandable – All content should be comprehensible

  • Provide readable and understandable content

  • Design functions in predictable ways

  • Provide tools to avoid and correct mistakes

 

Be Robust – All content can be interpreted by a wide variety of users

  • Maximize compatibility with all potential users

 

By following the above core principles and their guidelines, our designers and developers analyze existing websites and make recommendations to our clients, after the design is complete our developers build the updated site and conduct multi-step testing to ensure your website passes all AODA requirements. Once the testing is complete your customer success manager completes a final test and reviews the updates with you.

 

Aside from the workflow and the guidelines we must follow to keep our customers safe from penalties, we believe we are doing our part to build an inclusive community here in Ontario. A community that abides by the law, helps our customers build successful businesses and most importantly advocate for those who may find it difficult to do so for themselves.

 

Make your website AODA compliant! Visit aodawebsites.ca

AODA Websites logo

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Woman in a wheelchair using a laptop

 

As the summer winds down and the cooler air creeps upon us we tend to reflect on the year that we’ve had and prepare for the year ahead of us. With the pandemic (whose name we choose not to speak), companies have beefed up their online presence. Websites have been redesigned, new functionality has been implemented to suit the ever-changing world we live in now, businesses have really stepped up their game and we love that!

 

With all the new changes in the world that businesses were forced to adapt to, there may be one last thing on the list… one very important checkmark to give you a head start in the new year. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) became law on June 13, 2005 – its purpose is inclusivity. Our goal collectively is to make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 and we mean it! If you have a business with 50+ employees and a website, as of January 2021 your company and executives can be fined up to $100,000 each day that your website is not AODA compliant.

 

With that being said, the team at REM Web Solutions has also beefed up our game, we have implemented our internal policies and procedures to ensure that we are compliant. We have also invested in our designers to receive top training on how to design and build AODA compliant websites to better serve our customers who fall into this category.

 

If you are a business with 50+ employees and your website is not AODA compliant – or you simply don’t know, please reach out to us as soon as possible. We are armed to educate, help and most importantly provide you with services you need to be law abiding business owners.

 

Make your website AODA compliant! Visit aodawebsites.ca

AODA Websites logo

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Graphic depicting responsive design

 

One of the most crucial challenges we face at REM is ensuring our customers are receiving the most out of their websites. With consistently evolving technologies, it becomes our top priority to ensure our customers have access to the best tools that will support a successful business.

 

Over the past couple years, society has experienced significant advances in regards to the capabilities of mobile devices which means our clients are facing a new challenge – ensuring their websites are readily available at the touch of a fingertip on any type of device (desktop, mobile, tablets etc.).

 

As we move further away from desktop devices (PC’s and laptops) it becomes increasingly important for our websites to have responsive designs – this means your website is designed, developed and tested in a manner that will automatically adjust to the device your website is being viewed on, including images, fonts, forms etc.

 

Here are a few reasons why we suggest updating your existing website to a responsive design:

 

User Friendly Experience

User experience is by far one of the most important attributes of a responsive website. The easier it is for a visitor to navigate your website regardless of the device they are using dictates a level of professionalism that your business adheres to. It allows visitors to easily find information, share your content, and encourage them to revisit your website which boosts the image of your business as well as your SEO rankings.

 

Search Engine Optimization

In July 2019, Google announced that they would be implementing “Mobile-first indexing best practices”. This means that Googlebots would be using mobile versions of websites to index and rank for search purposes instead of desktop versions. For more detailed information on this you can visit their article here. This is definitely a direct response to the fact that more people are using mobile devices to browse the web, as per statista.com as of the first quarter in 2020; 56% of web traffic is from a mobile device. With a responsive website, your business is guaranteed to be indexed and ranked higher than those that do not have mobile versions. With a cleverly designed and developed responsive site, accompanied by additional SEO best practices, you are sure to see a boost in your search engine rankings.

 

Cost Effectiveness

Using the responsive tools in WebWiz@rd will save you money – we love saving you money! First and foremost, the content editor, media collections and menu builders have all been redesigned to allow you to manage the information you place on your website faster and on your own! A lot of the updates we implemented allow you to update sections of your website that previously our developers were required to update at an additional cost. With the responsive design, the most significant cost saving comes from not having to update desktop and mobile versions of your website separately. Each responsive site will now update simultaneously when an update is made, ensuring your site is presented in the best possible format for your visitors on any given device. Time is money – we get it!

 

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This is a headshot of Rob Matlow.

Illustration depicting eCommerce and website icons

 

Today, it is now essential for all businesses to be able to operate at least somewhat remotely or in a manner which allows remote access to their goods or services. What this means is that if I need to book an appointment somewhere or I need to make a purchase of a product, I should be (and it could be argued that I need to be) able to make that happen online. If this is not the case, the business is most definitely behind the curve and competition when it comes to accessibility.

 

Even more so, the current health climate is pushing people to want their goods delivered, and for their services to be performed in a manner which exposes them to the least risk possible. As such, putting yourself in a better position to be able to fulfill these requests will give you an edge in the coming economic environment. Having your website able to take orders, book appointments, ship goods, and essentially allow your business to operate remotely will also give you access to a range of customers you did not have access to before, such as ones who simply live too far from a physical location to make a convenient trip.

 

Lastly, this can give you access to individuals who may require remote services due to disabilities or other life circumstances which prohibit them from accessing your type of goods or services normally. This could be anything from remote counselling to online guitar lessons, but making something accessible without needing to leave the home is going to give you a massive edge in the years to come.

 

If you have any questions give us a call or let us know in the comments!

 

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This is a headshot of Rob Matlow.

An illustration depicting a man organizing a website layout

 

When it comes to real estate, the old saying goes: location location location. It is no different when it comes to the virtual real estate on your website, and that is why the placement of your content is so important. It can make or break something even being seen or interacted with at all in many cases, and depending on what the content is, this could be very detrimental.

 

Most websites make use of a banner area on the Home page, right at the top. This is often rotating, and you should make use of this as often as possible to point to new or temporary things/updates with your business. Your banners should probably change about as frequently as you would expect your common repeat customers to visit. This can be a little bit of work to upkeep, but it is well worth it.

 

Your navigation is also vitally important in guiding people to relevant information, and keeping your navigation short and concise is a big part of making this effective. Consider keeping the items to about 5 or 6 at most, and consider not even including dropdowns if possible. You can guide to further subpages if necessary, from within your relevant content, but the goal is to streamline your visitors to the places they want to go as quickly as possible to avoid them losing interest.

 

Finally, page placement itself is a big component. If you want something to stand out on the page, consider leaving space around it to make it more obviously visible, and making sure it is close to the top of the page. It is important not to clutter important information as it can dilute the message and users can be sidetracked or lost. Keep your pages clean and focused, and this will help drive users where they need to go.

 

If you ever have questions, feel free to reach out to us any time!

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Person using a laptop and notebook

 

Something I often see from websites as they go through the process of creation and then maintenance is that content often ends up stagnant or untouched for a long time after initial release.

 

Often there isn’t a reason seen by the owner to go back and make updates to certain pages as maybe the information never changes or the content is buried fairly deep in the website. Even for constant or more hidden pages such as these, not only do individuals notice when nothing changes after a while but so do the search engines such as Google.

 

Check Your Content Regularly

It can instead be a good idea to regularly go through your pages and make updates, even just for the sake of bringing an update to the page visually. People will take notice, and arguably more importantly, so will the search engines. It sends an indicator to them that your business is active, and this gives you a sort of priority over businesses deemed to be inactive due to either lack of updates or poor availability of information.

 

Update Some Visuals

There are easy ways to look at this – for example if you decide to make a striking visual change to a webpage, it will be considerably easier and less time consuming for you it mimic these updates on the rest of your pages, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel on a page by page basis. Consistency between your pages in terms of content design also helps give the website a much more professional appearance.

 

You can get creative with this too!

Make many different versions of a page and see what you might like best. You can even have special versions you put up for holidays or special sales to draw a little more attention and to really give the appearance of having an active web presence.

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Illustration that depicts a bull's eye target and digital business strategy

 

When you have a lot to say, it can be a challenge how to portray that information on your website sometimes in a way that is both informative and not overwhelming. The last thing you want is to have the information that the user is looking for available on your website, however not have them able to access/find the information.

 

There are a few key factors when it comes to targeting your readers to their purposes, and I am going to talk about those here.

 

Categorize and Organize

If you sell any product at all on your website, there are many ways you can target your readers. You can sort your products by category to allow users to browse at their leisure, or you can attach specific attributes to items and allow users to find them based on these. This is especially handy when paired with a search function – and don’t be shy when it comes to adding keywords and attributes! It takes time, but it really pays off in how much more flexible and usable the online store becomes with the correct connections made.

 

Make Information Easy to Access

Speaking of searchability, it is very important for your regular informational content to be easily accessible as well. This usually comes down to naming your pages in an informative way without going overboard with the description, as well as making sure your regular pages also come up in a search for information on the subject.

 

Be Short and Sweet

Lastly of course, making sure you are concise is important. Readers do not want to have to sift down through several layers of links to find something they are looking for, it needs to be as “Shallow” in the link tree as possible in order to maintain visibility to the average reader. It might be a different story if you were running a Wiki page, but for the average website you need to keep it concise.

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Clipboards with check list with the words "Importance of Testing Your Work" on top

 

It is probably said fairly often, but especially in a world where your work is going to be visible to the public and probably instantly – it is very important to check your work!

 

Always Back Up Your Work

In my role here at REM, I often see projects at many different stages of iteration including the ones that have long since left our nest here and with clients whom are maintaining their websites 100% themselves. With changes that are typically made within any CMS, there is almost always a “sandbox” type environment where a version or copy of the page can be created and moved there to be worked on, completely safe from the eyes of the public until it is ready to go. Within WebWiz@rd, this is called “cloning”. Always utilize this when possible, as it saves a mistake being released right away to clients of the website.

 

Preview the Page Before Going Live

Of course, once you have changes made to a page in the cloning environment, you are always going to want to preview the page to see how it will actually end up looking to the user. Remember, when testing the preview of the page it is important to test it in multiple screen sizes to ensure good user experience for all. You can always drag the corners of your browser window to replicate the effect of the responsiveness of the content.

 

Ask for Help and a Second Eye

Lastly, it is always a good idea to have someone else look over your work in a serious fashion for quality control. This is beyond asking a co-worker or friend for a quick once-over as you will most likely be greeted with “it’s just fine!” or “seems good to me!” Instead, if you have access to a professional editor or copywriter of some kind this can be a much more effective option.

 

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Contributors

Shauna Ramsaroop
18
October 23, 2020
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Rob Matlow
97
September 4, 2020
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Christine Votruba
27
July 28, 2020
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Ryan Covert
48
July 26, 2019
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Sean Sanderson
63
July 23, 2019
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Matt Stern
4
July 16, 2019
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Sean Legge
1
June 28, 2019
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Sean McParland
17
June 28, 2019
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Todd Hannigan
47
November 13, 2018
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