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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.

Woman using a laptop with the Webwizard login in the screen

 

Now that I have a few training sessions under my belt upon my return to REM, I’d like to share my experiences with you as a trainer, and as a fellow student. Once we have designed, built, tested and reviewed your website, we typically reach out and schedule a training session with you. Pre-pandemic, we would invite you into our awesome office and hangout in the boardroom. Nowadays, we’re inviting you into our homes and conducting training sessions virtually.

 

Depending on the site we’ve built for you, sometimes we split your training sessions into two parts, one 1.5-hour session for our standard modules and a secondary session for anything custom on your site, for example – eCommerce. As a student, I know first-hand that there is a lot of information provided to you, and it really is difficult to absorb new material. As a trainer I know the majority of what is presented to you in the training session doesn’t quite resonate until you’ve had a chance to play with the tools. 

 

Here are some tips to help you through the training session:

 

Taking notes is NOT essential

I know this is slightly breaking every rule when it comes to learning. However, we have compiled training documents for you and will send them after the session is complete for your reference. I honestly believe, you will get more out of the training session if you’re focused on how to navigate our tools.

 

Ask questions

Our trainers won’t get upset if you interrupt us. I promise. If you’re unclear of how something works based on the way we’ve presented it to you, ask us to clarify or explain it in a different way. Remember, we want you to succeed.

 

Provide us with hypotheticals

Our trainers do our best to understand your business, however we are limited, during your training sessions, give us examples of the results you want to achieve and we’ll show you how.

 

Once your training session is over, you’ve received the training documents go into WebWiz@rd and update your content, make changes and get a feel for how it works. Remember, that’s not the end of the road for your learning either.

 

If you’re trying to change something and you’re stuck email us at support@remwebsolutions.com – we’re here to help.

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Illustration of multiple devices with online shopping graphics

 

I have to admit, I’ve never been one to shop online. I was stuck in the mindset of only making purchases if I could touch a product. With the onset of COVID-19, I was forced to surrender myself to the world of online shopping. Let’s just say I may never return to a shopping mall again.

 

The year of 2020 brought us all challenges, it also brought us new experiences and the way we do things has forever changed. My online shopping addiction holds a strong case for business owners that are selling tangible products – it’s time to look at your options.

 

Of course, there are many platforms that exist that can give you an online marketplace, however they do come at a cost. Some of them charge transactional fees, some require you to pay a monthly subscription and you will often find yourself waiting for assistance on a support line when something goes wrong.

 

If you haven’t guessed yet, this is my shameless plug for our WebWiz@rd eCommerce Module. It really is a behemoth of a platform and allows you showcase your products, limit your transaction fees (we don’t believe in dipping into your hard-earned profits), and feel confident that you are in full control of the products you want to sell and how you want to present them to the world.

 

Here are a few reasons as to why I personally enjoy working with our clients who use our eCommerce module:

 

It looks great

When we design the look and feel of your eCommerce pages, we ensure it’s cohesive with the design of your website. Most online marketplaces offer you template looks and colours, with our eCommerce module we deliberately design and build it to give your customers a pleasant visual experience that keeps them searching through your products.

 

It’s easy

Yes, you can have complicated product offerings, however we have done our best to build you a tool that makes complicated, easy. Not only are we here to train and guide you on how to showcase and organize your products, we’re also here to support you throughout your journey of selling online. When you hit a roadblock, we’ve got your back!

 

It’s customizable

Not only is the design custom to the look of your website, our developers are able to tweak the module to ensure that it fits your needs. We’re aware that each business has different needs, especially right now and our team will work tirelessly to ensure that we provide you with the tools that you need to succeed.

 

If you like what you’ve read about our eCommerce module, feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to have a conversation about what you need to flourish!

 

This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

Laptop top-view with January 2021 calendar deadline on it

 

Did You Know:

 

Businesses & non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees should have made their website and web content accessible by January 1st, 2021?

 

It’s not too late! Make your website AODA compliant.

 

Visit aodawebsites.ca

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Home office setup with a glitchy effect

 

It’s been quite some time now that most of our team has been working from home, we miss each other and our awesome office. 

 

One of the most important things when working remotely is having a dedicated workspace to stay engaged and ready for action. A well-armed, personalized, organized, ergonomic home office makes all the difference when battling one’s foes, also known as daily tasks and routine. For most of us who are nerds and/or gamers, we wanted to show off our sweet setups, complete with multiple monitors, LED lights and peripheral equipment/devices. There are some perks to working at home for me – I get to snuggle with my dog on my breaks and make really good lunches!

 

We decided that it would be great to share what our at home “battle stations” look like and give you a few ideas for yours!

 

 

Sean S.'s home office setup

Sean Sanderson

 

Christine's home office setup

Christine Votruba

 

Sean L.'s home office setup

Sean Legge

 

Sean M.'s home office setup

Sean McParland

 

Ryan's home office setup

Ryan Covert

 

Rob's home office setup

Rob Matlow

 

Todd's home office setup

Todd Hannigan

 

Matt's home office setup

Matt Stern

 

Shauna's home office setup

Shauna Ramsaroop

 

 

 

For more tips on how to create a great workspace, check out this blog post: “A Streamlined Work Environment

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Laptop, tablet and phone on a table showing REM's home page.

 

A great home page layout makes the web page more interesting to look at because the viewer’s eyes will want to dance around in the page. It’s definitely easy to get lost on a home page and we want your viewers to enjoy the experience.

 

Just Breathe

People underestimate how important it is to give your layout white-space. By giving your users/viewers time to digest each section while clearly separating them at the same time, allows them to really take it all in; here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • White-space emphasizes how impressive a photo is and gives it intrigue.
  • Use the right amount of white-space:
    • Too much: the user will have to scroll through or “get stuck at” empty space.
    • Too little: the user might start feeling claustrophobic if things are squished together.
  • Our website as an example, the Home Banner:
    • On the left-side is a big photo that showcases one of our clients’ website on a laptop, smartphone and tablet. There’s a good amount of space between it and REM’s logo. Never over-crowd logos, they need space all around!
    • Notice how the white space makes it really easy to read the headline, which is the 1st heading.

 

Layouts

Make your layouts dynamic, symmetrical and appropriately proportional. This will show that you as a company are structured, organized and thoughtful. Your layout will determine the home page’s information hierarchy. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • Vary your layout throughout; use columns to put multiple items in a row.
  • Use a grid. In our website’s case (and in most of our clients’ website’s case), the grid is based on 12 columns. Notice how we use 3 columns in some areas such as the buttons below the banner, the featured portfolio and the blog teaser.
  • Maximize the use of your browser’s/device’s screen size, while still having proper white-space. Using our website as the example, notice how the angled grey background, large photos and Google Map take up the full width of the browser.

 

Headings

We often talk about headings, especially when it comes to having AODA compliant websites. On the home page, it keeps your viewers engaged and when sized correctly the end result is a sequential experience that your viewers will subtly perceive. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Heading 1: biggest, stands out and as I’ve mentioned, the very first thing at the top that clearly states what we provide: web design and development. Important and useful for SEO.
  • Use the correct sequence for SEO and AODA purposes (For more information, read this blog post about “AODA – Colour Contrast and Headings”)
  • Headings in a home page are very useful for separating sections.

 

For our website, the headings start off the following areas:

  • “We Provide Web Design & Development” introduces the website and attracts, using big imagery.
  • “We build exceptional websites…” some vital text for SEO and to give users more of an idea of who we are, who we serve and what we do.
  • “Some of our Featured Work” with highlighted projects.
  • “Blog” teasers of our blog posts.

 

As you can see in our three-part series there is a lot that goes into designing your home page – it’s the most important page and we truly want to make sure that we support you and guide you through the process. It is a lot to stay on top of, and our designers are here to help organize and guide you through the process.

 

We want you to succeed; we sincerely love it when you do! So, if you’re looking to change up your existing website or looking to design a new one, feel free to reach out to us! We’re here to help.

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Mockup of tablet and smartphone showing off REM's home page

 

Now that we have gone over the foundational aspects of a home page, we can dabble a bit into Branding. Your lead Graphic Designer will help you establish the overall look and feel during the design process. It’s the most fun part in my opinion because this is where you truly get to express who you are through emotions that your viewers feel when they view your home page! When we talk about look and feel we are referring to the colours and fonts – one key thing to remember is consistency.

 

Colour Us Simple

Using our website as the example, our primary colours are orange and dark grey. There are shades of much lighter grey throughout to complement the imagery and the primary colours. Notice that orange is used sparingly as it’s a very strong, prominent colour which naturally draws the eye. Hence, it’s only used for important elements such as action buttons that we really want users to click on and to highlight certain headings. The colours are not only on-point with branding, but they’re also AODA compliant.

 

It Feels Like Home

“Feel” aka overall tone is something you do not want to miss when it comes to your home page. It’s important to think about what you are trying to convey. Is your company approachable, friendly, laid-back, corporate, luxurious, natural, etc.? As our website as the example, we convey that:

  • We’re technologically savvy by showing current devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet, monitor). And our website is responsive and looks great on every browser/device.
  • We’re fresh and creative using modern fonts, angled backgrounds and shapes. Our creativity is also shown in the work we’ve done for our clients.
  • We’re reputable; our portfolio shows we’ve worked with well-known companies.

 

Although it sounds quite simple, determining the look and feel for your website and home page is a lot harder than it sounds. Our designers are here to help guide you through the process. As we build our relationship with you throughout the process, we’ll be sure to nail it down.

 

If you’re thinking it may be time for a refresh let us know; we would be happy to give you some ideas!

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Mockup of a desktop and laptop computers showing REM's home page.

 

Now that you’re part of our REM Team and as you navigate the process, we figured we’d put together a little guide to help you and your designer create a great website together. Over the next few posts, we’ll walk you through things to keep in mind while collaborating with your designer – also useful when updating any content on your own.

 

Purpose

It’s easy to forget when designing your home page to think about what the intent is of your home page. The key word that comes to my mind is engagement. We want to attract the user/viewer to dig deeper into your website. Your home page should ignite excitement and curiosity so that your audience feels encouraged to read and investigate further in regards to who and what your company represents and what services and/or products you offer.

 

Show Off a Little

Your home page is also the spot to impress your potential and current customers, you’ve done incredible work, you have fantastic products so provide some teasers that captivate customers (even existing ones). You’ll notice on the REM Web Solutions home page, we have a “Featured Work” section and this allows us to not only showcase our talent, but help our customers build a vision of what they can get!

 

Manage Expectations

Now that you have provided some teasers of work or products that you carry, you have already established what your customers or potential customers can expect from you. They should know exactly what you do or what you sell right away – even if they have not visited any other page. This is a great way to highlight your professionalism as a business that offers impeccable services or high-quality products as well as provide potential customers with insight on what they can expect while conducting business with you.

 

“All Aboard!”

Your home page should always have key “call-to-actions”; think buttons and callout sections that get your users to go to internal pages and encourage them to do something like contact you (email, phone, visit your office/store, etc.) You want them to browse and learn more about your services or products and book time with you. Your home page is a great way to summarize what you do and help promote further engagement into your website.

 

If you’re still unsure about how to do this, talk to your lead designer or give us a call!

 

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This is a headshot of Rob Matlow.

large AODA lettering with info for a free webinar

 

Join us on Thursday, November 19th at 9:30am for our free, AODA webinar!

 

Our AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) certified Graphic Designers: Sean Sanderson and Christine Votruba have put together an engaging webinar that explains what it is, how it affects your business and its design factors with resources to help make your website complaint.

 

Hosted by The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, the virtual event will be held through Zoom; please register in advance so that we can send you the link and details prior to the event.

 

To register visit The Chamber’s event page.

 

Stay tuned for future webinar dates! For more information visit aodawebsites.ca.

 

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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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Contributors

Shauna Ramsaroop
41
March 2, 2021
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Christine Votruba
28
January 15, 2021
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Rob Matlow
103
December 31, 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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