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In this follow up blog, we are going to be continuing our discussion on ADA compliance on your website and what you need to know right now.
Hello Summerville, and welcome back to the blog! There is just nothing like a new year in Summerville. The whole town seems to be buzzing with new exciting energy working towards this new year's goals, new projects, and resolutions. It's a wonderful energy, and we can all feel it in the office. It has helped each of us stay focused, get to work, and inspired us to keep up with our own goals and resolutions. Thank you, Summerville! Let's make the best out of 2021 together, and let's be kind to one another. Who knows what this year or any year might hold for all of us!
One of the very first blogs we've shared this year was all about being ADA compliant, what that means, the challenges small businesses are facing right now because of it, the fact that many issues are caused due to lack of official guidance, and how the officials are going about correcting websites to ADA complaint before a bully shows up to do it first. Today, we are going to be following up with part two of that blog with even more helpful and important information to make sure your business is safe and ready to handle the changes ADA online compliance might bring this year.
What are the best ways to make your website ADA compliant?
Remember, you can do many of these changes yourself if you want to. Do not, we repeat, do NOT let anyone bully you into believing that they are the only ones who can make your current website or build a website for you that is ADA compliant and that you must spend an obscene amount of money to do so. You can work with us at Creative Consulting to achieve an ADA-compliant website or any top-notch design company that won't force or bully you, and our rates will be reasonable. Remember, outside of following these loosely based guidelines that have started to appear about being ADA compliant online, being ADA compliant can help position your business for long-lasting success and help to expand your customer base. While rules and guidelines are still not black and white, the WCAG (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and other groups are paving the way. Until then, here is a list of suggestions and tips on how to make your website ADA compliant right now.
Well, readers, it looks like the topic of ways on how best to make your website ADA compliant needed its very own blog! Don't worry, we still have a lot more to talk about, and will continue to do so in our next few blogs. This topic is becoming more important every day, and we want to make sure you are prepared and informed. We appreciate you coming on this ride with us about ADA compliance. We hope that with each of these blogs, you are taking the correct steps to ensure that your website fits these guidelines. Please take this topic very seriously. While there are no official guidelines set in stone by law right now, that most certainly doesn't mean that it couldn't change soon. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to get ahead on this topic, so once it is set in stone, you either will already be compliant with the law or you will just need to make a few adjustments! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!
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In this two-part blog, we will be discussing something pretty delicate in our world right now. It is one of our personal goals to strive to not only help our clients and fellow small business owners grow their businesses, but we also strive to educate others and tell the truth about what's happening in the world of business right now. Today, we are going to be discussing a very important hot topic, being ADA compliant!
Hello, Summerville, and hello 2021! How many times have you written the date wrong so far this year? I've done it an embarrassingly amount of times! Anyway, welcome back to the blog writer's desk, and while we are just a few weeks into the new year, it is still such an exciting time to own a business. While so many people hate the beginning of a new year as much as they hate Mondays, when we look at a new year we see the beginnings of something very special and exciting. We have the opportunity to grow and become the company we want to be, and to help our clients do the same. That, to us, is incredibly exciting and one of the many reasons why starting fresh in a new year is what we live for!
One of the ways we try to help all of our clients and fellow small business owners grow is to inspire them to look at every new year as a new opportunity. It's the perfect time to go after their goals and a perfect time to plan how to reach them. We also try to take the time in the first few months to continue educating our clients on what is happening now in our industry, and how that might impact their business on a day to day basis, and what to be cautious of. Currently, one of the hottest trends in the marketing world and the website design world is offering clients to help them become ADA compliant. It's a sad reality that many marketing companies will use scare tactics to force small companies into a website contract with them, claiming that they aren't ADA compliant which could land them in a huge lawsuit. This is such an unnecessary and cruel thing to do to small businesses, who are already struggling to make ends meet in the first place. We want to state that by law, there are actually no guidelines that state exactly what or how your website must be set up to be ADA compliant. At least there isn't anything yet. If you are being bothered or badgered by a company telling you otherwise, please brush them off or speak with us. They're being bullies, and we don't like bullies here at Creative Consulting. In this two-part blog, we are going to be talking about what ADA Compliance is, how your company needs to be approaching this term and its current guidelines, and why the threat of being in danger isn't anything close to what many companies will say that you are in. Yes, you need to be compliant, but there is wiggle room, which is what we will be talking about today.
Let's take a step back though before we get in over our heads or things get confusing. The ADA is the American With Disabilities Act that requires physical locations to provide fair access and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Some of the most common examples of this are restaurants and public buildings must provide wheelchair accessibility and they must provide menus and other reading materials in Braille for customers who are visually impaired. Today, in our very media-heavy and driven world, ADA compliance has now spread out to the digital world and our digital devices. ADA compliance is now requiring all websites to provide accessibility for all on their webpages. This can include web content that can be used by those who are blind, for those who are deaf, help for those who must navigate by using their voices, and providing screen readers to help read and describe all content on the webpage for those who might not be able to see it. So yes, by law you must be ADA compliant and provide these options. Your website must also not prohibit the use of these tools that we've mentioned above that would prevent an individual with a disability to access your webpage as needed. However, here is the kicker! There are no clear ADA regulations that spell out how every website must be laid out and designed to provide accessibility to everyone with a disability. There is so much grey area, and so much unknown, which people are taking advantage of and trying to decide what it means for them, not for the digital world across the board. All it states by legal documentation is that all businesses that fall under Tier 1 or Tier 3 must provide internet content that gives at least "reasonable accessibility" to individuals with disabilities according to Business News Daily, but that is all that they say and no guidelines or examples have truly been supplied.
What businesses fall under these different tiers? That's when it begins to get a little tricky. Tier 1 Businesses are those that have at least 15 full-time employees and are open for business at least 20 weeks out of the year, and they somehow engage in an industry that adds to and affects commerce. However, if you have 14 or fewer employees (for example you are a self-employed company of one) and you work less than those 20 weeks a year, you don't have to comply as being Title 1. According to Findlaw.com any tax-exempt private membership clubs also do not count as being Tier 1 businesses. Businesses that are owned by a Native American Tribe are also exempt from being Title 1. However, Tier 3 gets a little more tricky because more businesses fall under its umbrella. Tier 3 businesses are businesses that are considered and live in the category of being public accommodations. Examples of this included and are not limited to:
ADA was passed in 1990, making sure that all public access locations had to provide accommodations for everyone, including those with disabilities. 20 years later in 2010, the Department of Justice passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design which mandated that all electronic information and devices had to be accessible to those with disabilities. However, because the law states that you only have to be ADA compliant if you fall under Tier 1 and Tier 3, it is still best to discuss with a lawyer what you should do for their website to not run into any issues. While there is no reason to prevent someone with disabilities from enjoying your website and content, for those who don't fall under those tiers, you shouldn't be badgered into building a website with a company you don't want to work with because they are saying your not ADA compliant, and the only way to avoid a lawsuit is to work with them. Remember, there are no clear rules about being ADA compliant, however, again, you need to be respectful of the ADA complaint ideals. What we are trying to explain here is that you can make these additions and adjustments yourself to your website. You can even make your website more accessible for those who use different tools to access and enjoy it, and to make sure they aren't turned away from it.
Many companies today, since it is such a grey area topic with no real definition, will take advantage of the fact that this world has no clear-cut definition and will attack smaller companies that don't fit in any tier. They will bully and scare them into buying a website from them, and in our books that is a bad business tool. In the second half of this blog, we are going to be continuing our discussion about being ADA compliant, its current battle, and how to keep your company compliant while not being bullied by others to conform to their incorrect definition of being ADA compliant. This is a touchy topic and one that we need to talk about more. If you feel that you might be going against ADA compliance or in some trouble because of not following what ADA guidelines there are, please contact us and we will work through it together! Until next time Summerville, stay safe and stay caffeinated!
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In one of our very last blogs for 2020, we are wrapping up this blog series about the best things you can do for your business now to make the new 2021 the best year yet!
Hello, Summerville! Welcome back to the blog writer's desk! The year is slowly picking itself up and putting itself away, and boy was it one for the books. We are happy to see it go, and we are happy and excited to see what this new year will be bringing us. As all of us at Creative Consulting have been gathering for our last in-person meetings of 2020, it's been interesting to sit back and see what this year has taught us. First and foremost it has taught us how resilient our town is. Nothing can stop Summerville! In fact, through all of the challenges we have been through as a community, it has been incredible to see just how much we have supported one another and continued to grow together and for one another. We have seen compassion, hope, and the dedication each of you have to your families, community, and your passions.
We have also experienced so much support and an outpouring of love from all of you supporting small businesses of all kinds right here in town. You decided to shop small, give big, and give back to your community. You took more time to be proud of the movers, makers, and shakers right here in town, Thanks to that you now own beautiful pieces of artwork and homemade products made by your incredibly talented neighbors, and you have tried some of the best new dishes and desserts made from your neighbors that you might not have known about unless the pandemic had happened, a tough silver lining, but one just the same. We have also seen resilience in our industry that we are so thankful for. We are honored to support and care for your businesses, and to help build and support them to help reach all of your goals and more. It has been an honor working with each of you, and we look forward to ringing in 2021 with you and stepping into new beginnings.
In part one of this blog, we spent time talking about all of the financial things you can do right now to help save on your 2020 taxes. While many of those decisions, purchases, and money moves might seem like a little bit of strain on your business accounts at the end of a very difficult year, we promise that they are still good decisions. While you might feel every penny this time of year, you will appreciate the time you dedicated to following the list in our previous blog and spending a little more money now. Come April 15th, your tax expenses will not be as challenging to cover, painful, or a surprise. In this blog, we are focusing more on the business aspects of closing out a year. What can you be focusing on and working on now that can help you create the best business plan for 2021? How can you make your goals become realities? How can you uplift and support your team? Let's talk about it!
Year-End Count Down
Before we all wrap up our work for the new year and settle into our holiday parties with our coworkers, there is still so much left to do. This is our busiest time of the year, so we understand that sometimes things can get lost in the shuffle. Don't let that happen this year! Use this end of the year checklist to wrap up 2020 and get your head in the game for 2021! We know the pandemic has been devastating to so many of you, and many companies are still trying to recover from its reverberations. Keep strong, keep going, you've got this!
From all of us at Creative Consulting, thank you for an incredible year! We deeply appreciate your support and friendship and couldn't do what we do without all of you and the incredible town of Summerville. We are so appreciative to our clients who have been with us for years, our new 2020 clients, and all of our future clients. We wish you all a very exciting and wonderful 2021!
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Having the strongest tools in your online marketing toolbox should be one of your top priorities for your business. Having a strong, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use website should be one of those incredibly sharp tools!
Hello, Summerville! Welcome back to the blog writers desk and welcome to December! How excited are you to drive and walk around our cute little town and see it decorated to the holiday nines? Don't forget to shop local and shop small this year. 2020 has been a hard year for all of our local businesses, and right now more than ever they need your love and support. Our incredible town has something for everyone on your holiday shopping list this year. Personalized and unique gifts, gift cards to your favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries, and fun (socially distanced and safe) activities, and much more can all be found right here in the sweet tea capital of the world! Don't forget, shopping locally and supporting local small businesses help support our neighbors and our local economy. Investing in it is an investment back for you! Also, if you don't feel safe shopping or ordering in person from all of your favorite local businesses, many of them are selling their products, gift cards, and services on their websites! Many local artists are also selling their goods on Etsy, on their websites, off of their social media pages, and more! If you need any recommendations on where to shop this year, please reach out to us, visit your favorite local Summerville websites, and ask around! Make this holiday a very special one, regardless of how difficult it has been for all of us!
Speaking of online shopping, social media pages, and websites we wanted to focus on sharpening one of the many important tools you need to have in your small business toolbox this time of year, and all year round. We need to start the conversation about having an excellent website. After making it through all of your online holiday marketing planning these last few months and putting all of that into action, it's time to get ready for the upcoming new year. We know how busy this time of year is for you, but we also know you understand that work for a small business never stops. All of us at Creative are constantly pushing ourselves and working towards how we can better ourselves to help our clients, and how we can help our clients grow to their next level of business. One of the many steps we help our clients grow and prosper in, what one of our tops services is, and what we promote very often our on social media pages is having a strong, functional, and beautiful website. As the 2018 and 2019 winners of the Readers Choice and Berkeley County Best Web Design Firm, we wanted to dedicate one of our very last blogs of 2020 to the many reasons why having an excellent website is so important.
In today's world where almost all first introductions and interactions individuals make with a new company, restaurant, or service start with a Google search, having an excellent website is a must. This will be your introduction to most of your new clients, supporters, and consumers. It is more likely for a curious individual to turn to their web browser to look for what they need or ask for an opinion through their social media network than any other forms of search. Having a welcoming, easy to navigate, and beautiful website serves as that first handshake in these situations, and automatically gives you credibility to these new hopeful potential clients without you having to lift a finger. Google helps with these introductions too, especially if your SEO is top-notch.
However, if you don't even have a website, that can be a fatal blow to your company and a huge loss in clients and sales. The amount of organic traffic your company will receive by having a website is incredibly important and can be stronger than print, radio, or TV advertisement in many cases. However, if you are only using print, TV, and radio advertisement and don't have a website, this will automatically cause you to lose credibility too. It will seem strange in today's world that you wouldn't have a website. Potential customers want to learn more about your services, your prices, and how to contact you without having to go digging to find it. If this isn't readily available through a website, it is highly unlikely that they would choose your business over someone who does have a website with all of this information. Having a website is one step closer to knowing and trusting the company behind the website before even choosing to work with someone.
That being said, if you do have a website but it's not pleasing to the eye, difficult to navigate, lacking information, and lacking contact information, this will also repel your potential customers. No one wants to spend extra time nor do they want to get frustrated by having to dig for information, get confused on how to interact with your website, or not finding any of the information they are looking for. You want a design that's pleasing to look at, explains exactly what your company does and what it offers, who customers can talk to, all while staying true to your unique brand.
[Sense of Easy, not Urgency]
You have a strong, beautifully crafted, and easy to navigate website - now what? In 2020, the pandemic has kept many people out of brick and mortar stores, and kept them to window shopping on their phones and computers from the safety and comfort of their couches. This trend has been powerful and popular even before the pandemic hit. Physical window shopping is slowly becoming a thing of the past while the power of scrolling and Google search shopping is slowly starting to take its place. It's easier, faster, and a gateway to finding new products and services at the click of a button. It's also a huge time saver and potentially a huge moneymaker for your business. Where does this all start? With a strong website.
While many new clients might find out about your products and services thanks to your social media pages on Instagram and Facebook, they will still be lead to your website landing page to decide if they're going to buy from you and what they're going to buy. Having a website can also expand your customer base. You or your brick and mortar shop might be located on the west coast, but having a website could allow you to sell your goods across the country or even globally. You are opening the market to anyone in the world, or where you personally choose to ship to, by having a website.
In this day and in this year, where the pandemic has made it hard to hold onto a brick and mortar location, a website can free you up from the responsibilities that come with it and the rent you have to pay to keep it. If you have a strong website backed up by an incredibly active social media and SEO presence, and you can ship your goods and products anywhere, you don't need that brick and mortar store unless you want it. On the other hand, if your company offers a service and you prefer to operate mobile out of a car or company vehicle, a well-crafted website can continue to promote your services while also avoiding a brick and mortar location.
[A Conversation Worth Having]
We've talked about the importance of communication in many of our blogs. Responding to comments or messages on social media in a very timely manner, responding to emails as quickly as possible, and giving your customers a place to start a conversation are some of the most important practices a business needs to have and provide. Having a website allows this communication to happen with ease and allows it to be organized for you and instant for your customers. It provides the information needed to contact you with any questions, problems, and concerns right away. Adding a chatbox can provide quick and 24/7 customer support instantly, too. This also allows, subconsciously, for your clients to connect with you and trust you with ease and without causing a headache.
Don't forget that a website not only makes the process easy for your clients, but it also makes your job easier too. That's the dream right there, isn't it? Once you create your stunning website and keep up with its maintenance throughout your company's lifetime, you're set to go. At this point, you'll have nowhere to go but up. A website will also be a godsend for your marketing team, who need all your love this time of year. Once you've established an excellent website, planning for sales, holidays, and new products will be so much easier for them. They have a landing page to display these changes, the ease to direct new and returning clients on where they can buy your goods and services, and an established brand to base all of their marketing off of! What a relief!
We understand the hesitations in hiring a company like ours to build, create, and manage a website. We've heard and understood all of them. However, if you want your company to continue to grow, have credibility, if you want people to know who you are and what your company does, continue to make money, and make a good first impression, a well-designed website is the way to go. We are here to chat with you about any questions and concerns you might have about building or redesigning your website and to help get you started. Creating beautiful websites is one of our many passions and something we hope you're getting excited about! Let's get started taking your business to the next level with the website of your dreams, contact us today! Until next time, stay safe and caffeinated Summerville!