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




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Person using a laptop and looking at photos

 

Picking which images you want to go on your website can be an extremely daunting task, but these days it does not have to be. Whether you are looking for custom images taken just for you, stock photography which you select and purchase as you desire, or even free and open source imagery readily available at the click of a button, it has never been so easy to find the images that will be perfect for your site.

 

Hiring a Photographer

A major factor in what type of images you will want is going to be your budget. Having a photographer come and take photos for your website can be extremely expensive, however generally yields the best results. You will have images which speak perfectly of your company, will often include images of your building and staff, and can have exactly the look you desire as you can ask specifically.

 

Royalty Free Stock Assets

If you are on a bit of a smaller budget, but still want something special, there are many websites which sell “stock” photographs for a set price. These photos are not unique as anyone can buy them; however, they are very unlikely to crop up often as they are copyright protected and cannot be freely taken. They are also often as high quality as if you had hired a professional, they just won’t be specific shots of your company. This works well for home businesses or businesses with no physical location, as they generally get better results this way and do not need to show their locations through photograph.

 

Open Source Imagery

If you are on an extremely tight budget and absolutely cannot spend money on images, there are free and open source photographs available to anyone online. While many of these are still quite high quality, be aware that they will be extremely pervasive throughout the internet for the pure fact that they are free. This may cause many users to recognize your images from elsewhere and this may put a negative reflection on your website or business.

 

Thanks for reading about how to pick images for your website! If you need a hand with anything website related, reach out to us.

 

Contact Us

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Man standing in front of whiteboard

 

So, you have just launched your new website and have had some time to digest things. Now what? The thing about your website is that it should never stop evolving and getting better as time goes on. If you can make an improvement to the site that will benefit your user in some way, this should always be done and can only help your brand or product.

 

Make Your Website User-Friendly

A common first place to start is where you can link within your own website so that users can navigate a little bit easier. It is all well and good to have links in your navigation, but you are going to want to place convenient links and buttons throughout your content as well. A good place to make sure you are sending people frequently is your contact or your products/services pages.

 

Remove the Clutter

Another thing to do is make your website more detailed gradually. This can be tricky as you will want to “hide” your more comprehensive information that can bog a new reader down beneath or behind lighter and more to-the-point content.

 

Improve Usability with Up-to-Date Designs

Layout can be another big source of improvement for a new site. You will have designed the website according to your or your own company’s tastes, and while this can be great, fresh sets of eyes always reveal new improvements or bugs that may have previously been unseen. Over time, listening to feedback and making changes based upon that feedback for user friendliness. Looking to competitor websites to see what they are doing better than your site can also be a good source of insight.

 

Features can be added or improved on your website as time progresses. Maybe you have expanded to 2 locations and now wish to have both locations on the site, with a user interactive map. Maybe you want to start blogging but want a certain interface and setup for it that is a little different from a basic page on your website. Perhaps you want to start allowing people to apply to jobs directly through your website. These are all common improvements you can make to your website over time.

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Thanks to everyone that played Santa’s Workshop Showdown!

 

Thanks to everyone that played Santa’s Workshop Showdown!

 

We hope that everyone had a great holiday with friends and family. We also hope you enjoyed our game as much as we enjoyed making it! Congratulations to Christine D. for winning an XBOX One S! 

This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Business woman looking at a laptop

 

Nowadays, it's very easy to set up your own website. You can do this with WordPress which gives you a number of different website templates. You just have to insert your own images and content and voilà—you have your own website. At times, you may not even have to pay for maintaining this website, if you don't mind having a clunky web address.

 

This is great for someone who is just starting their own website or blog as a hobby. But if you're setting up a website for a business and your aim is to increase the number of visitors to your site in order to get more customers, then a DIY website may not be right for you.

 

Here are the 5 mistakes people make on DIY websites:

 

1.

Choosing the Most Popular Template

The fact that the template is popular shows that it is good. But it also shows that your website is going to end up looking like everyone else's.

 

 

2. 

Using the Images That the Template Comes With

You need to use your own distinct images. You can take the photos yourself or get them from a free website. Just make sure they won't look the same as everyone else's.

 

 

3. 

Not Providing Enough Information

Sometimes, people just write a few sentences describing their business and post them on their website. You need to provide more well-written information if you want customers to come to your site.

 

 

4.

Not Setting up a Blog

If you want people to keep coming to your website, you have to keep adding more information. You have to keep it relevant and fresh.

 

 

5.

Not Using Keywords

When people go to search engines, they type in keywords that are relevant to them. So if you want them to find you, you have to use the same keywords. Do some research about the keywords popular in your field and make sure they are used generously on your website (without keyword-stuffing).

 

 

Contact us to understand more about the mistakes people make on DIY websites.

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Every time a person hears about an interesting product or service, they're not likely to have a computer at hand. After all, when do you usually hear about something interesting? It's generally when you're hanging out with friends, having a beer or a coffee. Sure, there might be times when you get a good recommendation at work but, in general, people are too busy working to look up the website immediately.

 

So it's important to make sure that people are able to follow up on the recommendations they receive when they're not near a computer. And this means having a mobile-friendly website which will give them all the information they need immediately.

 

Hand holding a smartphone with REM's mobile website on it

 

Mobile-Friendly Images and Text

Any website can be made mobile-friendly as long as you use the right images and text. Yes, it may be difficult to fit a panoramic image into a phone. But it's always possible to avoid panoramic images and use close ups instead. Plus, it's a good idea to keep your content brief and to-the-point so that people will be able to read it on a phone as well. As long as you follow these two rules, you should be able to come up with a mobile-friendly website which serves you well.

 

The Uses of Mobile-Friendly Websites

Think about it from your own point of view. Haven't you often been tempted to look something up when you were with a friend—maybe the exact definition of a word or some information about a book or a movie that you want to recommend to someone? Maybe they told you about a dating site and you wanted to look it up. Or maybe you were trying to get some health information that would be pertinent to you or your friend. Maybe you were just looking for a good place to go to dinner.

 

Either way, the fact is that a lot of your internet searching nowadays is now done on a mobile phone. There are even people who don't own computers, only mobile phones. So it's a good idea to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Contact us for more information.

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA was passed into law in 2005 and seeks to prevent barriers to resource access for people with disabilities.  While applicable to businesses in Ontario that have one or more employees, requirements and deadlines are specific to a business' size and type.

 

 

Illustration depicting AODA letters with people around it

 

Generally, AODA is made up of five standards as well as some general requirements.  The 5 standards are Customer Service, Information and Communication, Employment, Transportation and Design of Public Spaces.  These AODA standards in turn are part of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR), which includes the following general requirements: provide training, develop an accessibility policy, create a multi-year accessibility plan updated every five years and consider accessibility in procurement and when utilizing self-service kiosks.  To learn more about AODA, click here

 

Why You Should Care

So, you've got a website for your business but why should you care about accessibility?  Because it's the right thing to do and anyway you are legally required to follow the AODA with enforcement fines of up to $100,000 per day.  And this is not to mention that people with disabilities, have approximately $25 billion in spending power across Canada, so it is financially beneficial to decrease barriers to access on your website for people with disabilities.  Why would you want to pass up so many potential customers?

 

The Details

Beginning in 2021, all organizational websites for companies with 50 or more employees must conform with accessibility requirements under the AODA.  Internet-based mobile apps have requirements under this standard as well.  Areas to consider include social media accessibility, contrast and color schemes, screen reader compatibility, simple and clear writing, form validation and error recovery, alternate text for images and typographical layout.  To learn more about the specific tools and techniques used to increase website accessibility, check out this collection of articles.

 

If you need help designing an accessible website or improving the accessibility of your existing site, contact us.  We'd be happy to help!

 

Make your website AODA compliant! Visit aodawebsites.ca

AODA Websites logo

 

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Woman looking at a laptop

 

Ontario AODA Website accessibility compliance crucially aims at making sure every person can use a website. It plays a primary role in the building of websites, and through its application, Ontario AODA aims at achieving universal standards of inclusivity. With increased ease in use of Websites arises additional potential revenue opportunities. Cost benefits also materialize if your website's accessibility is integrated into the development process right from the onset.

 

Why Make Your Website Accessible?

 

Accessibility refers to the product design, devices, services, and the experiences for persons with disability, more so visual impairments. Ontario AODA Website accessibility compliance runs in tandem with SEO. Indeed, the most significant benefit of Ontario AODA website accessibility standards is the positive effect on search engines. Accessibility improves functionality, efficiency, and user website experience.

 

Moral Obligation in Application

 

Websites form the basis for which people continuously rely on for information and specific services. People with disabilities are not left behind in the use of the web in their daily life. By the use of accessible Websites, this particular group garners a sense of dignity and independence. In effect, receptiveness is likely to make a considerable difference in inclusivity, resulting in more collaboration and innovation.

 

The Financial Benefits Accruing to Organizations

 

In regards to people with disability, it makes good business sense to implement accessible websites. The potential increase in site visits translates to broader markets and higher profits. Ontario AODA compliant websites are in line with web standards and to a higher degree receptive to most browsers across multiple devices. Browser receptibility increases the potential lucrative audience accessing your site. Generally, Ontario AODA compliant websites have overall ease of use for everyone through the use of visual design and interactivity.

 

Web Accessibility Legal Guidelines for Firm's in Ontario

 

Compliance to website accessibility standards in Ontario is mandatory, with non-compliant firms facing fines and penalties. In Ontario, Organizations are required by law to accommodate people with disabilities by adjusting certain website practices. Firms with 50 employees and above are required to file accessibility compliance reports.

 

In case your website is not compliant to Ontario AODA accessibility rules, the best time to act is now. Ultimately, building or redesigning your site will be least costly as compared to having to change a finished Website. You as well can do without the inconvenience of responding to formal complaints. Creating accessible sites helps you achieve your objectives while setting you apart as a professional. Contact us for more information.

 

Make your website AODA compliant! Visit aodawebsites.ca

AODA Websites logo

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

One thing that many business owners in the Waterloo area work hard to do is budget and allocate resources. Conversely, there is also a desire to invest in things that produce results and a good return on their investment. With so many companies heavily advertising DIY websites, it might seem that web design would be an area that could be done without professional assistance in order to save money. The truth, though, is that DIY website builders often make mistakes that can be quite costly to their bottom line.

 

No Distinguishing Personality

 

One of the biggest selling points for DIY website companies is their templates. Many advertise how easy it is to create a site, largely due to drag and drop features that allow for small amounts of customization to a pre-made template. While they may be easy to use, these templates often lack true character and look just like thousands of other sites on the web. The end result is a basic DIY website that doesn't grab attention very well, and that isn't able to be customized to a target audience very easily. On the other hand, having a professionally designed website that is innovative and unique can set your business apart in your space or industry.

 

Navigation Difficulties

 

A second mistake that many DIY website builders make is creating a site that is difficult or frustrating to navigate. Visitors to your website can become turned off by things like pages that take too long to load, annoying auto play music or videos, or the lack of a quality search tool. For a business owner that is not actively working in the web design industry, there are massive amounts of considerations in the realm of navigation that are simply not thought of. Professional web design companies can help advise and guide you through the ins and outs of a quality customer user experience and quickly identify places that should be modified for easier navigation.

 

Eventual Neglect

 

Running a business can be especially time consuming for many people, and those I meet with in the Kitchener area are no different. When a DIY'er first starts out with their web design project, there is usually commitment and excitement, and time allocated. However, as the hours pile up and the demands on other fronts mount, even the most carefully constructed DIY website can become susceptible to neglect. In fact, many DIYers have the misconception that a website is a "set it and forget it" kind of thing, which really is not true. Websites need to be monitored for performance, updated and optimized, and checked regularly for areas of improvement. A professional within the web design field will be able to devote the time needed on a regular basis to ensure your website is always performing well, and working hard for you.

 

Seeking a professional web design company in the Kitchener, Waterloo or Cambridge Guelph region? We would love the opportunity to work with you! Contact us for additional information on our services.

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A lot has been written on the subject of website accessibility, but there's a lot of confusion about it. Put simply, accessibility refers to designing devices, products, or services for people who have disabilities. Designing for accessibility issues gives the ability of potentially everyone, regardless of their condition, to have access your website. Not only is it law in several parts of the world, it's a way to respect the basic rights and dignity of everyone, regardless of their abilities. What things should you look for when trying to improve accessibility on your website?

 

Ontario's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) defines several areas addressing accessibility issues with government agencies, organizations, and businesses, including websites. If you are a private or nonprofit organization with 50 or more employees, or a public-sector organization, your website is required to meet the accessibility requirements. The compliance deadline for new websites to comply was January 1st, 2014, and beginning January 1st, 2021, all public websites must meet level AA requirements.

 

Thankfully, when Ontario codified guidelines into law, they adopted the W3C WCAG 2.0 guidelines. The guidelines are fairly thorough, covering everything from making sure images have alternative text, to making sure that pre-recorded audio and video have captions, to making sure your website can be navigated entirely by keyboard. Since Ontario requires double A compliance, it also requires things such as minimum contrast ratio of text to background, and making sure that artwork on the website doesn't trigger people with photosensitive epilepsy.

 

If you're looking to upgrade your website while maintaining compliance, contact us. Our experienced staff is always ready to answer any questions you may have or assist you with developing your online presence. Our guiding principle is that you, the customer, come first, and will work to build a compliant website optimized for desktop and mobile use.

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This is a headshot of Sean Sanderson.

For me, I think of a design trend as a movement that has gained enough usage that it starts to become recognizable and used. A trend can start slow before gaining momentum or can be influenced and fueled by new technology.

 

For myself, as a designer, I make it a priority to keep current. For me, trends are meant to keep me inspired and thinking in a contemporary way. I don’t choose to completely ignore them but being aware of what they are is very important. I find myself longing to experiment with a new design and try a new trend even if it’s just for a personal project.

 

I believe we are currently in an interesting time with web design. We’ve seen many new web design styles push the boundaries of what we expect the modern web to be. As well as significant advancements in technology that are allowing users to not only ‘surf’ the website but leave with a feeling of an exciting experience. Accessibility is certainly not new but has been making a statement to ensure a more consistent and accessible environment for everybody who uses the web.

 

With so many developments, it’s important to slow it down and take a look at what trends have the ability to stay and what new things we can expect to see in 2019.

Below are 5 of the more notable styles that we can expect to wedge themselves into web design for 2019, and beyond.   

 

Flat Design

 

Starting as a trend, the flat design grew to become a standard. Preferred by many users from a user experience perspective flat design is a minimalist approach that features the use of wide-open white space, colors, and uncomplicated illustrations. Pairing clean fonts and minimal content seem to work very well with flat design.

 

Minimalism

 

Web design is always moving in a “less is more” mentality. The most time-honored web design trend, minimalism has always been my favorite style as hard as it can be to pull off properly. With fewer components on a website, the less the user has to process. Clients are more and more opting towards a simpler layout with greater amounts of white space. Using white space to separate the different sections on your pages helps improve readability and makes it easier for users to digest important information.

 

Animated GIFS

 

Can you remember a time when the dancing Ooga Chaka baby was a thing? Animated GIFs can definitely capture the limited attention span of most users. They are great at conveying ideas while being intriguing and captivating. Animated icons are becoming more and more popular and the use of animation/movement isn’t something that will be die off as long the rise of UX is still a thing.

 

Organic Shapes

 

Traditionally set up in grids, some websites have moved away from the cookie-cutter horizontal and vertical dividers and designers are turning towards natural shapes and smooth lines. Geometric shapes can give a feeling of accessibility and comfort. Organic shapes are irregular, uneven and imperfect. They can provide emphasis to make content stand out and give a personal touch.

 

Website Accessibility

 

Last but not least, accessibility. This is not a trend, its an evolution and progress of the web that can’t be ignored in 2019. Designing ( and building ) websites for people with disabilities and ensuring they can use them easily shouldn’t be something web designers and developers simply choose to do anymore. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are quickly becoming more enforced and it’s going to be increasingly important to make sure your website is up to par.

 

Everything or ( most things ) have been done in design at one point before. A lot of the new trends are merely recycled ideas from earlier movements in design. That being said they can be revisited and reinvented. From the look and feel, websites will move toward the clean style of flat and minimalistic design. From a UX side of things, companies will need to focus on making their sites engaging and accessible.

 

Ooga Chaka!

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