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HTML, CSS, PHP, Ajax, Content, Search Engines, web browsers, mobile devices...web development is a complex process.

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Web hosting requires a lot of trust. Trust with your files, messages, and information. You already trust us with your priceless member data; trust us with your web data as well. Our hosting is rock solid, with state-of-the-art servers and around the clock monitoring.

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Web Services Professionals will manage your web site updates. You simply provide the content and we'll optimize it, test it and publish it. Avoid the hassle of managing HTML and browser compatibility. Let our professionals do it for you.

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Americans with Disabilities Act and Your Website

What is ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H. W. Bush. The law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

The law applies to state and local governments, as well as businesses that meet the ADA definition of “public accommodations.” Public accommodations would include businesses like restaurants, hotels, movie theaters and doctor’s offices. Also covered are commercial facilities, meaning buildings, factories, warehouses and many private employers.

The law does not apply just to physical access to a government office or private business. It is broader and asks whether there are other limiting factors like policies or procedures that limit access. An example of a limiting policy might be a policy stating no dogs allowed which would limit access to someone who needs a service dog.

The ADA defines a disability as, “A mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” This isn’t the complete definition of all defined disabilities, but covers the primary definition. Also, the impairment must be a substantial limit on one or more major life activities. The impairment must be long-term as well.

The ADA expects governments and private businesses to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Accommodations aren’t required if the accommodations would fundamentally alter the service.

The preceding description is a summary of course. Full details can be found here: https://www.ada.gov/. Now that we have a basic understanding of the ADA, consider how it applies to websites.

How Does It Apply to Websites?

The goal of the ADA is to make day-to-day activities available to people with disabilities. A worthy goal no doubt. The internet has become ubiquitous and essential to everyday life. So making the internet and websites usable by all is logical.

People with disabilities often need help operating a computer. There are a number of software and hardware products used by individuals. These include screen readers, text enlargement software and control by voice commands. These tools are sometimes less effective on a website that isn’t designed to accommodate people with disabilities. When the tools are less effective, the person using them is frustrated and unable to use the website. Accessible design takes this into consideration and allows people to use the website without the ability to see, to hear or to use a computer mouse.

Take a moment to look at an example. People with limited or no vision would often use a screen reader. A screen reader speaks the text of a website out loud, starting in the upper-left of the website. It can’t determine what’s in a photo, which to the sighted is easy to determine.

Are There Alternatives to Making a Website Compliant?

The answer is yes. Well, maybe. Court rulings can be unpredictable and a smart attorney may cause you grief. But, the ADA does allow alternatives to a website that isn’t compliant. For example, a staffed customer service phone number would allow a visually impaired member to take advantage of the services of a credit union.

Here’s the catch on websites, they’re available 24 hours a day. Typically, you won’t staff your customer service line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So an argument can be made that any alternative should be available 24/7. Telephone banking that’s available 24/7 may be a good alternative to a website if it provides the same capabilities for making transactions.

The guidelines for ADA website compliance aren’t complete. They aren’t absolute. The best solution is to add accessible features to your website. And then provide alternative means that allow people with disabilities to use your services.

What is CU*Answers Web Services Doing?

CU*Answers Web Services is happy to let you know that we develop our sites with modern coding. Much of ADA compliance is based on correctly designed and implemented code. Web Services will verify that the HTML for our websites passes the W3C validator. W3C is the worldwide developer of standards for HTML. Passing the validator assures our clients that the structure of their website is compatible with ADA goals. The W3C validator is located here: https://validator.w3.org/

We will also validate websites for accessibility using the AChecker. This tool checks a website for specific features that assist those with disabilities to use a website more easily. Using the tool, we will correct any “Known Problems” identified using the guidelines for WCAG 2.0 (Level AAA)).  Note that the Department of Justice has not ruled on a specific set of guidelines as of this writing, but we feel the WCAG 2.0 is a step in the right direction. The AChecker is located here: https://achecker.ca/checker/index.php

Validating with the W3C and AChecker tools provides a baseline for accessibility. We use them to make sure our sites meet a minimum standard.  Because the ADA guidelines aren’t finished, there’s no guarantee that a website launched today will meet the final guidelines or even a court’s interpretation of the current guidelines.  This also means that if your website is older, it may be time for a redesign.

What Can You Do?

Your website is probably updated frequently. If you make those updates to your site, you should understand the basics of website compliance. For example, when you upload an image always add what is called “alternate text.” The text should describe the purpose of the image. This text is used by screen readers to announce or speak to the person using the screen . Therefore, this text should be descriptive of what you are conveying with the image.

When adding a new page, assign an appropriate title that describes the content on the page. If you added a page that defines your checking accounts an appropriate title would be “Checking Accounts.” Adding a featured article about an upcoming annual meeting might be titled, “2017 Success Credit Union Annual Meeting.”

Want to find out more about making your site ADA compliant? This article provides a list of basic requirements for the elements on your web page: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/web-designer/creating-an-ada-compliant-website/

As a final note, when you contract for website services make sure the person or company is aware of what makes a site more usable for everyone.

Auto-Owners Associates Credit Union Launches Brand New Site

Auto-Owners Associates Credit Union New Site Design
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Auto-Owners Associates Credit Union launches a brand new website!

This is the first website for Auto-Owners Associates Credit Union. When we sat down to talk about the design of their site, they stated that they wanted something fresh and simple that would be easy for their members to navigate and easy to find important information.

Their brand new site displays a fresh and simple – mobile-responsive design that includes a sticky navigation – so that members can always find their way. The homepage features rate boxes that show the latest featured rates, a list of services, so that members can quickly find important content, and a banner with a link to the credit union newsletters. The inner-pages allow them to choose between a sidebar layout that shows quick links and a full-width layout where the page content is the only focus. Additional page options include enabling featured rate boxes on the sidebar as well as custom header background images for each page.

Visit Auto-Owners Associates Credit Union Website

Your Website Content: Words that Get People to Pay Attention

 

“Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed.” – Abraham Joshua Herschel

It’s no secret by now that words have power. We can use words to inspire, anger, project, persuade, motivate, and empower.

In marketing, the words you choose for your website pages or campaigns are incredibly important. As such, you need a good understanding of your industry, audience, company marketing goals and the desired outcome of your campaigns.

List the Benefits First

When people have a good understanding of what they stand to gain by buying whatever it is you are selling, they will be more engaged and open to your message. Therefore, if you start your persuasive copy with words that describe how the user will benefit directly from your product, service, or idea, your conversion rates from casual onlooker to full-on customer will be much higher.

Did you know

As mentioned in our previous article, you should never have a button or link that says “click here”. The reason? It’s better to use actionable words that explain what you want the user to do and why they should do it. For example, if one of the goals for your latest loan promotion on your website is to have people click a button to contact you for more information, you want to use actionable words that accurately engage the user so that they know what it is they are clicking on and for what purpose. You can try something like “Learn More” or “Contact Us for More Information”. By doing this, you give the user a purpose for clicking the button. The other upside? It’s great for SEO.

Speak directly to the user

When you use words like “you” and “your” you are speaking directly to your audience. Speaking directly to your audience is effective because you want to create a relationship between the user and your brand. Digital communication is cold and impersonal at times. That’s why it’s always better to engage your users on a personal level. That is why emotional advertising is an effective marketing technique.

Emotional words you can use in your copy are words like heartwarming, obsessed, luxurious, hilarious, courageous, vital, etc.

Use an active writing voice

When you write copy for your website or a marketing campaign, it’s best to use an active voice and not a passive voice. The reason? It gives your words purpose. It displays ownership and gives your users a sense of purpose when they are reading your words.

Always remember, when writing content, the words you use might start with a sound but you want them to end with an action. Engage your users. Get them to pay attention.

Never say “Click Here”

Don't Use Click Here
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When adding links on a website, one should always consider the content they are facing toward their viewers. A common mistake is to use the text “click here” as an incentive to get the viewer to hit a hyperlink, and there are several reasons why:

  • It doesn’t describe the link being clicked. Even if the surrounding text suggests the other side of the link, it deters readers from selecting it.
  • It’s terrible for screen readers and visually impaired users. If there are multiple “click here” links on a single page, they become indistinguishable from each other.
  • It kills the SEO of your website. Search engines use the link text to identify it’s individualism.
  • If the content of the page needs to be printed out, the sentence containing the link loses its meaning.
  • It looks like spam.
  • It’s outdated. The initial use of “click here” was to show that the text would redirect or open a file when the internet was young and the majority of people were not familiar with internet browsing.

 
Instead, use descriptive context to show your viewers what they are clicking on:

Community First Federal Credit Union Launches New Website

Community First
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Community First Federal Credit Union launched their new website today! The design is a modern design by CU*Answers Web Services. It includes home page sections for rotating banners, membership/loan applications, featured rates, and current news featured by the credit union.  The design is responsive which means it displays nicely on all devices from a phone up to a desktop computer. You can check it out here: https://www.cffcu.biz

Say Hello to United Advantage!

United Advantage NW Federal Credit Union - Website Redesign
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United Advantage NW Federal Credit Union just got a brand new look!

At the start of the redesign, we sat down with Sarah McNeil to discuss their needs and wants for the new site. Their goal was to have a user-friendly, engaging and simple to navigate website. Additionally, they wanted the ability to edit main content easily throughout the site.

Once the brainstorming finished and the main requirements of the new site were laid out, our designer took off on the design, using their unique gradient logo as a jumping point for the new look.  United Advantage’s new site showcases large beautiful banners to promote their products and services, a service-carousel that displays their most popular, new and favorite products, a sticky navigation for desktop and mobile to make sure that visitors can always find their way, and engaging inner-page features.

Take a moment to check out their new look!