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Using Abbreviations & Terminology on your Website


21. December 2009 20:29

Making the assumption that you know the audience of your website and that they understand all the industry and product terminology you use within your company maybe alienating some of your potential customer base.

There are a few very easy ways to continue using your terminology and acronyms whilst making your website more user-friendly and meeting web accessibility guidelines on acronyms and abbreviations at the same time.

Acronyms

Add Meaning to your Terms

Acronyms and Abbreviations - By using the <acronym> and <abbr> tags in HTML you can give more information to your users when they hover their mouse over the term or abbreviation on your website.  This HTML mark-up also allows spellcheckers, screen readers, translation systems and search-engines to understand the context too.

For example:

Welcome to the <acronym title="World Wide Web">WWW</acronym>
or <abbr title="Telephone Number">Tel</abbr>

Create a Website Glossary

If you find that you use lots of terminology on your website you might want to consider adding a glossary to your website and hyper linking to the appropriate terms in your glossary when you use them in your web text.

Picture used under Creative Commons from tuchodi

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What Does Web Accessibility Mean?


9. September 2009 22:26

Everyone has the right to use the internet regardless of whether they have sight problems, colour-blindness or other impairments, which is why the UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) also applies to websites.

This law applies to all websites and therefore you have a legal responsibility to ensure your website does not discriminate against disabled visitors to your site by anticipating the requirements of disabled people.

By not complying you open yourself up to criticism, bad publicity or even legal action!

What's involved?

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a series of guidelines on Web Accessibility which the majority of web developers and designers should be aware of, but it is always worth confirming with your web developer that your site needs to meet at least priority level 1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 before any work is carried out.

Examples of Accessibility Scenarios

  1. Users should be able to resize text on a website to a comfortable level for reading, either through the appropriate web browser menu or using a facility on the website itself.
  2. Visitors with colour blindness should be able to read and understand a website regardless of the colour of the text, and therefore require a good contrast ratio between the text and the background colour.
  3. Blind visitors should be able to use screen readers (software programs that read the contents of the screen aloud to a user) or Braille devices to browse a website and understand its content.
  4. Users with seizure disorders, such as some types of epilepsy should have the ability to turn off any animation or effects that may trigger seizures.
  5. Individuals with memory impairments rely on consistent navigation to browse a website.
  6. People who cannot use a mouse for one reason or another should be able to use alternative methods such as keyboard shortcuts.
  7. Providing deaf visitors with transcripts of video and audio presentations.

8 Benefits of Accessible Websites

  1. Increased reach to disabled web users.
  2. More business from impaired customers or older people.
  3. Greater compatibility with handheld devices used for browsing the web, such as mobile phones.
  4. Faster loading websites and lower bandwidth costs.
  5. Cross-browser compatibility.
  6. Ability to promote your website as being accessible.
  7. Accessible website are generally search engine friendly.
  8. Compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.

The Web Development Process


22. August 2009 17:56

From an initial client brief through to site launch the web development process can be divided up into a number of stages.  Here is a quick overview of what is involved in each stage. 

Analysis

The analysis stage involves talking to the client to gather requirements and determining the websites objectives.

The analysis stage will ensure the team understand the client's needs which is vital in ensuring the project delivers a solution that achieves the client's objectives.

Skills and resources required to complete the project will be assessed and a project plan will be put in place to deliver the website in line with the client's requirements.

A cost to deliver the project will be calculated and a proposal sent to the client.

Information Architecture & User Experience Specification

Assuming the client is happy to proceed and a signed proposal and deposit have been received, the specification stage will begin.

This involves defining how the information contained in the website will be presented in the form of a sitemap and set of wire frames diagrams.  These help develop the hierarchy, structure and navigation of the web pages that form the website and how each page will be laid out structurally. 

This stage is important as it will effect how users locate the information on your site they are looking for, a poorly structured site can hinder potential customers, which may mean fewer sales if they can't find what they are looking for quickly enough.

If the website contains interactivity that cannot be captured by a wireframe or sitemap, a functional spec will be written to communicate the intended functionality.

Web Content

Ideally the web copy should be sourced from the client before the web design stage as the content forms a large proportion of the design and the length of the copy on key pages can influence how a page is laid out and designed.

Where possible professionally written web copy is preferred as it will ideally include keywords and phrases to assist the search engine optimisation process.

Once the copy has been written another copywriter should proof-read it for typos, style and inconsistencies.

Web Design

A web designers job will involve taking output from the first three stages of the development process (the client brief, web copy, site map and wireframes) together with any existing corporate branding to produce a design for the website.

Web Development

Following the client approval of the design, the development phase can begin.  This stage will see the design transformed into HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Depending on the requirements of the client, a content management system may be built onto the website to allow the client to make website amends through an easy to use administration panel.

Once complete, a prototype will be deployed to a test website so the client can submit feedback.

Quality Assurance

The QA testing phase aims to ready the website for launch. 

The website will be tested on a number of popular web browsers and versions (Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Chrome), platforms (Apple Mac, PC) and monitor sizes.

The website code will be checked for errors and conformity to W3C guidelines for HTML and CSS.  Web accessibility compliance will also be checked.

The site will be inspected for broken links and missing images, and any forms on the site will be rigorously tested.

Deployment

The deployment of the website will differ depending if the site is new or a redesign of an existing website.  It generally involves migrating databases and website files to a live server, pointing domain name(s), setting up mailboxes and generally ensuring the site is running smoothly.

Deploying a website that is replacing an existing website is more involved as it requires special instructions in-place to ensure users who have bookmarked pages of the old site will be redirected to the most appropriate page on the new website.  This also helps search engines update its index.

Website Promotion

This stage is vital to ensure you get visitors and potential customers arriving at your new website. 

Depending on the most appropriate strategy for your website this can include search engine marketing, search engine optimisation techniques and or traditional offline marketing.

Maintenance and Updating

Most websites will require updating every now and then to keep them current, these may be simple content updates made through a content management system or slight changes to the design/navigation which require technical assistance.

Occasionally a bug or error might be discovered with the website and need correcting.

Your Website and Legal Compliance


17. May 2009 14:44

When you are thinking about what content you want on your new business website one of the last things your mind will probably be a privacy policy, terms and conditions, or a copyright statement.

You may also not realise that the UK data protection act may be applicable to you if you handle personal information through your website, or that your website needs to be built with accessibility in mind.

Privacy Policies

A privacy policy allows you to state how you will respect the privacy of your users, by explaining what information you collect and how you store and use it.

Cookies
A form of data collection which your website may or may not use is the cookie.   Your privacy policy should also mention your website’s use of cookies, and how to refuse them.  Be sure to ask the company that builds your website if cookies are being used, as the use of cookies by websites is covered by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive).

A sample privacy policy can be downloaded from the BusinessLink.gov.uk.

Terms and Conditions

A terms and conditions notice provides visitors with information about the content of your website and what they are permitted and not permitted to use it for.  A sample website usage terms and conditions can be downloaded from the Business Link website.

Copyright Notice

A copyright notice allows you to express how your website content can be used, downloaded or distributed by your visitors.  A sample internet copyright notice can be downloaded from Business Link.  You may also wish to consider licensing your work at Creative Commons, this will allow you to keep your copyright, but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit.

Data Protection Act and your Website

The UK Data Protection Act requires all organisations which handle personal information to comply with a number of important principles regarding privacy and disclosure.

There are eight principles which are designed to ensure that personal information is handled properly.  The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held about them.

If you process personal information on your website then you will need to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office.  This currently costs £35 a year and adds your business to the public register of data controllers.

Accessibility

The UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) refers to the provision of goods, facilities and services.  The act makes it “unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public.”  The act means that service providers must “take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services.”

Make sure the company that is building your website makes your website accessible, otherwise you could face legal action.