Accessibility in Website Design: Opening Up Your Website to All Visitors

Accessibility in Website Design: Opening Up Your Website to All Visitors

Imagine scrolling through a website, eager to learn more, only to be met with walls of text in a font so decorative it resembles a secret code. Frustrating, right? Now imagine that same experience with a visual impairment or while using a screen reader. Accessibility isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about unlocking your website for everyone, regardless of ability.

Let’s talk about people. Millions of people—15% of the global population—have some form of sensory, cognitive, or physical limitation that could affect their website experience. And guess what? They’re potential customers, loyal fans, and valuable voices waiting to be heard.

It’s time to shift our mindset and prioritize inclusivity in website design. By making our websites accessible to all, we not only expand our reach but also show that we value and respect every individual who visits our site.

Accessible websites are also more likely to rank higher in search engine results, attract a wider audience, and encourage longer user sessions, ultimately boosting the website’s performance and visibility in the competitive online landscape. Ensuring that your website is accessible to all individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, is not only a legal requirement but also a moral imperative.

Understanding and complying with legal standards like The Accessible Canada Act and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), which are  guidelines that define how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, not only ensure inclusivity but also protect your website from potential legal issues related to accessibility compliance.

So, how do we build bridges, not barriers? Here are some often-overlooked tips:

#1. Font Frenzy

Not all fonts are created equal. While script-like fonts might look fancy, they can be a nightmare for screen readers and people with dyslexia. Instead, opt for clear, sans-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica. Trust me, your message will shine brighter when everyone can read it.

#2. Colour Contrast

Colour contrast is crucial for ensuring readability for all users. Make sure there is enough contrast between text and background colours to ensure that everyone can easily read the content on your site. Use tools like the WCAG colour contrast checker to ensure that your colour choices are accessible to all. Remember, inclusivity starts with design choices.

#3. Alt Text

Alt text is a simple but often overlooked aspect of web design that can make a huge difference for users with visual impairments. Make sure to include descriptive alt text for all images on your site so that screen readers can accurately describe the content to users who are unable to see the images. By taking these small steps, we can make a big impact on creating a more inclusive online experience for all users.

#4. Speaking Volumes

Text-to-speech tools are fantastic, but not everyone needs them embedded. Most modern browsers have built-in options, so focus on making your content clear, concise, and well-structured for optimal accessibility.

#5. Beyond the Basics

Accessibility isn’t just about technicalities. It’s about creating a welcoming space for everyone. Consider the following:

  • White space is your friend. Don’t cram too much information on a page. Give your visitors breathing room, both literally and figuratively.
  • Think globally and act locally. Remember to think about users who are learning English as a second language. Use clear, concise language with a Grade 4 reading level. You’ll reach a wider audience and foster inclusivity.
  • Professionalism matters. Even if your website is playful, keep a professional tone. This ensures clarity and avoids potentially offensive interpretation.

The Ripple Effect: How Accessibility Benefits Everyone

Remember, accessibility is an ongoing journey, not a one-time fix. You’ll want to regularly test your website with diverse users and assistive technologies. Embrace feedback, iterate, and keep learning.

Continuing to prioritize accessibility will not only help those with disabilities but also improve the overall user experience for all visitors to your website. By creating a more inclusive and user-friendly online space, you are showing a commitment to equity and diversity. Additionally, implementing accessibility features can have positive effects on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and overall performance.

The question is, who will you leave behind by not making your website accessible? The answer is simple: everyone. So, let’s build websites that are truly open to all, one inclusive pixel at a time.

Over to you!

Building an accessible website can seem daunting, especially for small businesses. But fear not! MYOB offers the resources you need to help you create a website that’s inclusive and welcoming to all. Are you ready to join the journey?

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Who Does the Internet Think You Are?

Who Does the Internet Think You Are?

Do you know what the internet is saying about you? Your online presence can be just as powerful as the words you say. Your digital footprint can significantly affect your reputation and success, whether you’re an individual or a business. As such, it’s critical to understand and monitor your digital footprint to ensure it accurately reflects the image you wish to present to the world.

Fortunately, it is never too late to start managing your online presence. Taking the time to cultivate a reputable digital footprint can help you achieve your personal and professional goals. It is important to remember that everything we post on the internet is permanent. By being mindful of what you post, you can create an online presence that reflects your best self and builds a positive reputation.

Here are eight things to consider as you grow your digital footprint and online presence.

#1. Do You Know What Your Digital Footprint Is Saying About You/Your Business?

Your digital footprint is the trail of information you leave behind as you interact with the internet. It includes everything from your social media profiles to your website and online reviews. But do you know what it’s saying about you or your business? Is it sending the right message? To find out, start by Googling yourself or your business.

#2. Who Does the Internet Say You/Your Business Are?

What do you find when you search for yourself or your company online? Are the search results accurate and positive, or are there misleading or outdated information? The internet’s perception of you or your business can shape the opinions of potential customers or staff.  Overt personal opinions expressed online could create problems for you in the future.

#3. Would We Be Able to Find Your Birthday and Other Personal Information?

Are you feeling like your privacy is being invaded in our digital world? It can seem like your personal information is always just a few clicks away online. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your privacy and keep your data secure. Does a quick search reveal your birthday, where you went to school, your marital status, or even your personal preferences for music and movies? It’s essential to be mindful of the personal information you share online and to review your privacy settings regularly.

#4. SEO – Why Ranking Highly on Google Is So Important in Business

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a vital role in your business’s online reputation. When potential customers look for the products or services your business offers, you’re going to want your website to show up at the top of the search results — the higher your Google rankings, the easier it is for people to find you online, which can lead to increased visibility and revenue.

#5. Do You Have Google Reviews?

Online reviews can heavily influence potential clients during their decision-making process. Do you have Google reviews for your business? Are they recent and positive, or do they need attention? You’ll want to monitor and respond to reviews regularly to build trust with your audience. After a positive customer experience, ask that customer if they would post a review for you.

#6. Do You Have Old Photos/Videos That Need to Be Updated or Removed?

Your online presence should reflect the current look of you or your business. If you have outdated photos or videos on your social platforms and website that are no longer relevant, it’s time to update or remove them. Old content can create confusion and give the impression of neglect or inactivity.

#7. Is Your Online Information Fresh, Current, and Up to Date? 

Are you looking to make a great impression with potential clients? Accuracy is essential for your brand’s online success. Take the time to regularly check to ensure information about your business, such as operating hours, contact details, and addresses, is current and up to date.

Also, check that your website is up-to-date and displays the current year in the footer. An outdated online presence can give the impression of neglect or disinterest, leading to lost opportunities and customer frustration. On the other hand, keeping things fresh shows you’re actively maintaining your online presence.

Remember this: Your website and social media profiles are digital storefronts, and you should update and refresh them often to pique interest and keep visitors engaged. Posting fresh content and interacting with your audience demonstrates activity and engagement.

#8. When Was the Last Time You Posted on Social Media?

Consistency is key in the online world. A sporadic posting schedule can leave visitors wondering if you’re still in business. One way to stay active on social media is to create a content calendar and stick to a regular posting schedule. Doing so is a great way to maintain a professional online presence. If you need help with this, our social media team has years of experience!

Over to You.

As you can see, your online identity and digital footprint are valuable assets that require careful management. At MYOB, we understand the significance of keeping consistency with branding online. We begin by conducting an audit of existing channels before creating a new strategy with our clients while taking the time to review their digital footprints. If necessary, we invest in improving their online presence. The internet has a lot to say about you or your business, and it is essential to ensure that it is saying the right things.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Make Your Business Top of Mind: Using Integrated Marketing to Its Full Potential

Make Your Business Top of Mind: Using Integrated Marketing to Its Full Potential

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, simply having a website or relying solely on social media for growth and visibility is not enough. To truly succeed, entrepreneurs and business owners need to adopt a holistic approach that encompasses various marketing touchpoints, which is also known as integrated marketing.

By understanding the importance of integrating different channels and personal interactions, you can effectively position your business as the go-to solution when your product or service is needed. As you probably know by now, there is no “one-size fits all” answer when it comes to marketing. Instead, successful campaigns require a deep understanding of the customer journey and how different marketing methods can be used to influence their behaviour.

What is integrated marketing and how does it work?

Integrated marketing involves the use of various components of marketing, such as advertising, public relations, and social media. The variety of media, channels, and strategies is consolidated to provide a consistent and customer-focused experience. It essentially means maintaining a uniform appearance, feel, and tone across the brand’s communication mediums.

Integrated marketing works by creating a consistent message and experience across channels, increasing the likelihood of a conversion. It works because:

  • More channels = more eyes to see your messaging.
  • Repetition helps keep your brand top of mind.
  • You gain authority by being available on every channel your customers are on.

Ultimately, showing up more frequently across several channels is the highest reward for organizations that embrace integrated marketing. (Source: AdRoll)

Starting Your Integrated Marketing Strategy Off Right

It’s important to note that after discovering your business on social media, potential clients often begin their research journey, exploring your entire online presence, including your website and reviews. When they eventually make a purchase, they may attribute it to factors like positive Google reviews, your website, a door hanger, a TV advertisement, or even a recommendation from a neighbour, without ever mentioning social media.

Many companies track leads and referral sources, but it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean you should disregard your other marketing efforts and ask clients to pick just one source. Having numerous touchpoints enables interactions on different platforms, ultimately adding more value and conveying your message in a manner that better connects with individual prospects.

If you’re ready to put an integrated marketing plan into action, here are a few aspects to consider:

#1. A Website Alone Won’t Ring the Phone.

There’s little doubt that having a website is essential in today’s digital age, but this alone won’t guarantee business success. Many business owners naively believe that customers will automatically start pouring in once their website is up and running. However, a website is just one component of a comprehensive marketing strategy. To make your business top of mind, you must combine it with other elements.

#2. Social Media: Beyond Building an Online Presence.

Social media platforms offer incredible opportunities for businesses to engage with their target audience, but they should not be relied upon as the sole means of generating growth. While social media can help build brand awareness and foster a community, it should be integrated into a larger marketing ecosystem. Leveraging social media alongside other channels, such as a well-designed website and personal interactions, goes a long way toward developing a compelling and unified brand presence.

#3. Humanizing Branding through Personal Interactions.

Networking and personal interactions are often underestimated in our online-dominated social sphere. However, the value of face-to-face connections should not be overlooked. Attending industry events, conferences, and networking gatherings can help humanize your brand and establish credibility. These personal interactions provide opportunities to showcase your expertise, build relationships, and position your business as a reliable solution in the minds of potential customers.

#4. Speaking Engagements: Amplifying Your Reach

Speaking engagements are an excellent way to expand your reach and establish yourself as an authority in your industry. By offering valuable insights and sharing your expertise, you can capture the attention of community groups, professional organizations, and industry events. These engagements enable you to directly connect with potential customers and enhance your reputation as a trusted resource, ultimately keeping your business top of mind when they require your product or service.

#5. Paid Advertising: Maximizing Your Visibility:

Paid advertising via traditional means such as radio, television, and print media remains valuable. While digital advertising has gained prominence, traditional media outlets continue to reach vast audiences. Investing in well-targeted advertising campaigns boosts your brand’s visibility, raises awareness, and keeps you at the top of potential customers’ minds whenever they are ready to purchase.

Over to You

Integrated marketing offers businesses numerous advantages and opportunities compared to relying on a single touchpoint. Here at MYOB, we always want to ensure our clients understand this. By combining various elements like advertising, social media, and networking, businesses can develop a robust marketing strategy that amplifies their impact and distinguishes them from competitors. Many marketing experts agree – it can take up to 13 touchpoints before an interaction is converted into a lead.

If you’re interested in learning more about our marketing services, let’s chat. Contact Karen at 519-657-4283 or leave us a message on our website.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Marketing Myths and Why You Need to Nurture Your Relationships

Marketing Myths and Why You Need to Nurture Your Relationships

Why is marketing important? A primary benefit of marketing for your company is that it engages customers (current and potential) and helps them decide whether to purchase your goods or services. Without marketing, your potential customers may never know about your business.

Even though marketing is crucial, business owners frequently slash it first when recessionary worries are pervasive. You might be surprised to learn that reducing your marketing spending during a downturn is one of the worst things you can do for the long-term success of your company. You are putting your company at risk of losing market share, even if it might initially seem like the appropriate decision.

Let’s dispel a few of the most widespread myths about marketing.

#1. I don’t need to do any marketing because I’m so busy and have plenty of clients already.
This is a myth because marketing must be consistent, and the pendulum can swing the other way at any time. For example, if your primary marketing strategy involves billboards, don’t suddenly disappear! Consider your current strategy – are you mostly online or in printed marketing material? If you are investing in a good social media program, remember that social media is all about connecting and staying connected. This is a social marketing strategy and effective to keep and grow relationships.

Think of it this way. You’re too preoccupied to socialize right now. But what about in 6-12 months when you aren’t as busy? Without nurturing and connecting, your relationships will have faded, and you’ll be scrambling to re-establish yourself in the minds of your customers, spending a lot of time (and money) trying to reconnect.

#2. I need to save money, and marketing is an unnecessary expense.
Marketing is more than just an expense. It is a primary source of revenue for most successful companies. One of your company’s objectives is to generate a certain amount of revenue.

During a recession, it is more important than ever to remember that loyal customers are the most reliable and long-term source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing is not an option; it is a priceless “expense” that is a must for helping to continue generating revenue.

If you spend your marketing dollars wisely and consistently, you will always be the first business that comes to mind when a customer needs your products or services. If you reduce your marketing, someone else’s business will be the first to come to mind. When something is out of sight, it is out of mind.

#3. I have my own website. Someone will find me if they want to.
Ask yourself these questions: How will people find you if you only have a URL and a website? How do you get people to visit your website? SEO alone will not result in a sale. You must have an online presence in more than one location – the internet is a traffic jam.

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, social media provides a ton of opportunity for engagement, allowing you to rapidly react to and reply to customer comments and queries, as well as urge followers to visit your website for more information. Using social media to enhance the human aspect of your business generates an emotional connection, which builds relationships and nurtures trust and loyalty.

#4. For referrals, I only need word of mouth.
Without a doubt, word-of-mouth marketing has numerous benefits. When satisfied customers enthusiastically recommend your company to their friends and family, it helps grow your business.

It’s crucial to keep in mind, however, that many people in today’s culture conduct their own research before even contacting a service provider or making a purchase! Marketing plays a significant role in increasing customer satisfaction as well as boosting awareness and loyalty for your company.

It is beneficial to align good customer service with your marketing efforts to achieve your company’s long-term objectives. Excellent customer service may encourage someone to leave an online review and getting more positive reviews increases a company’s credibility. Remember, much of today’s “word-of-mouth” happens online!

Social media marketing is invaluable for boosting your business’s reputation as well. Simply listening and responding to posts about your company on social media can help you improve customer satisfaction. Businesses that communicate with their customers can increase customer loyalty.

#5. I can handle it myself.
You realize the necessity and value of marketing. However, most people believe that social media is as simple as creating an eye-catching post. Be warned: this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Customers may stop following your social media profiles if you don’t create engaging and unique content. A good mix of blog posts, videos, GIFs, customized graphics, and curated content (content from reliable sources that you want to share) will keep your content fresh and engaging. Your content should be closely related to your overall marketing goal.

Many businesses struggle to create engaging content that reaches their target audience consistently. To promote your products or services, build a community within your target audience, and drive traffic to your website, it takes time and patience to thoroughly research and then create or curate content for social media platforms. An effective social media marketing plan should involve strategic planning, proofreading, and editing before any content goes out on your social media platforms. Choosing which platforms to publish on should also be researched.

We can help you develop and execute a social media plan that works for your business. For more information or contact us online. We’d be happy to email you our guide to planning your social media strategy.

Over to you

A recession can be worrisome, especially for small businesses. However, it can also provide a unique opportunity for them to focus more than ever on their marketing strategy and gain a competitive advantage. Those companies that continue to market themselves during a recession will remain at the top of the minds of their customers. When customers require immediate assistance, they’ll know where to go.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Beat the Block: Tips For Dealing with Writer’s Block

Beat the Block: Tips For Dealing with Writer’s Block

Have you ever found yourself staring at your screen, wondering what to write, but the words just won’t come to you? Or perhaps you’re creating a post for social media that you believe to be original, but you can’t help but feel like you’ve written it before? If so, you might be experiencing what’s commonly referred to as “writer’s block.”

What is writer’s block? When writers are stuck for ideas, it is known as writer’s block. It affects writers at all phases of their careers, and if ignored, it can prevent you from writing for days, weeks, or even months.

The good news is that you can avoid writer’s block and keep your writing fresh! Here are some ideas for “beating the block” and staying in the zone.

Keeping content ideas fresh

Every content writer faces the challenge of keeping their content fresh, informative, appealing, and on brand. It’s essential to give your readers the kind of content they want. Consistently doing this will have a significant positive impact on your readership. What’s new? What has changed? Think about offering a new perspective to your readers.

If you’re stuck for ideas, give one (or all!) of these a try:

#1. Be the customer. Take a step back and observe your company from a customer’s point of view. What questions do you have? Share answers to those questions in your writing.

#2. Solve a problem. When you are networking or talking with other business owners, what are the common topics of conversation that keep coming up? Do they want to learn more about topics like cash flow, marketing, how to handle challenging clients, or how to target a particular demographic? What problems can you help solve?

#3. Discover what’s happening in the world. Take a few minutes to browse social media, respectable news outlets, YouTube, and even TikTok! Or, if you find yourself with even more time to spare, binge-watch a popular TV series, attend a concert, or spend an evening at the movie theatre. Find out for yourself what people are talking about right now and incorporate it into your content.

#4. Take time to prepare and plan. Make a “special-days” calendar or check out fun holiday ideas from sites such as HootSuite. Tuck away testimonials from emails or recommendations from social media. These great reviews make uplifting content to easily inject in an e-newsletter or in social media posts.

#5. Do you think you’re funny? Try your hand at creating memes! We subscribe to imgflip.com and have a lot of fun (and even internal company competitions) developing memes.

#6. Go behind the scenes. Show your readers who you are. Humanize your brand by taking candid shots of staff at work, celebrating your team members’ birthdays, and sharing staff recognition.

#7. Create a poll or survey on social media and ask people what they want to hear about. Current Revenue Canada regulations, deadlines, or news? Trends on social media? The Pantone colour of the year if you’re considering rebranding or refreshing your website? Everyone has an opinion and they’re usually happy to share it!

#8. Build a list of FAQs. Which questions do your clients, readers, or prospective consumers often ask you? Make a list of the questions and respond to each one, providing examples when possible. You can also create a few case studies.

#9. Interview experts within your industry. Interviewing someone within your field is a great way to establish an emotional connection between your company and its audience. The content you capture during the interview has the potential to supply material for your blog and social media for some time. You may even consider recording your interviews and converting them into podcasts for even more content. (https://www.myobontario.ca/podcasting-101/)

#10. Become a savvy content curator. There will be days when you’d rather not reinvent the wheel, and that’s fine. As you know, there is already a ton of content out there on the internet. Look for interesting, relevant, and timely posts and share them with your followers from time to time.

Over to you

We hope these suggestions help you get your creative juices flowing again. Do you have a tip to add to this list? We’d love to hear what works for you when you’re experiencing writer’s block.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Your Social Media and Website: A Love Story

Your Social Media and Website: A Love Story

It is no secret that having an online presence – including a website and social media accounts – is an important aspect of any company’s online strategy. But what happens once you have set up your website and social media accounts? How can they work together?

All your marketing channels, whether online or off, should already be working together to increase brand awareness, generate engagement, and drive conversions. Here are some ways that your website and social media should be interacting together.

#1. Connect your social media accounts to your website.

To get the most out of your online presence, ensure your website visitors can view your social network accounts and vice versa. By encouraging website users to join your social following, you can improve traffic to your website while also increasing customer loyalty and expanding your reach. On your website, remember to add social media icons and links to your social media accounts. Then, in your social profiles and ‘about us’ sections, be sure to include a link to your website.
If you want to highlight your social media even more, consider embedding a Twitter/Facebook live feed on your website. However, if you do this, make sure you are consistently adding updated content to your social media platforms to keep the stream fresh. Keep in mind that the branding should be consistent throughout all your business’ social media channels and your website.

#2. Encourage people to visit your website by sharing on social media.

Share information from your website on social media on a regular basis. Both your website and social media are designed to engage your audience with quality content. By directing your social media followers to your website, you can encourage them to read your blog posts and/or other web pages, which increases the possibility of converting them into customers. As well, when you are driving more visitors to your website via social media, you’re also increasing the chances that your content will be shared elsewhere on the web, potentially improving your SEO. At MYOB, some of our website clients have requested e-newsletters from their website, or monthly blogs. These are both wonderful sources of content that successfully attract traffic from social media to your website and vice versa.
As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, social media provides a ton of opportunity for engagement, allowing you to rapidly react to and reply to customer comments and queries, as well as urge followers to visit your website for more information. Using social media to enhance the human aspect of your business generates an emotional connection, which builds relationships and nurtures trust and loyalty.

#3. Track your progress by using analytics.
Using analytics and data provides important insights on how well your content is driving traffic from your social media platforms to your website. Setting up Google Analytics for your website is an essential part of capturing that data (https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/).

Monitoring your social media and website can help you recognize both the successes and the areas that need improvement. For example:
• Determine the type of content and posts that perform best across social media and your website, so you create and share the types that do well.
• Use your social media data to better understand your target audience and develop content for them, and vice versa – use your website visitor data to customize your social media posts.

Over to you

Your website is one of your strongest branding and marketing tools. There are many different types of websites that may work for your business:

• Sites that act like brochures
• Interactive sites with chats
• Sites that require logins for membership

The same techniques for creating the interaction between your website and your social media platforms will apply regardless of the type of website you have. At Mind Your Own Business Inc., we will collaborate with you from the ground floor and build a customized website that meets all your business needs. Contact us to get started today!

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger