Insights

  • Making Web Content Accessible to People with Disabilities

    by Gavin Garrison | Apr 17, 2013

    making web content ADA compliant

    No one
    thinks twice when they see a wheelchair access ramp to a building. Stoplights have audible “walk” signals for the visually impaired. ATMs have braille type next to the keypads. The last presidential inauguration speech included a sign language interpreter following the president word for word. Virtually every television comes equipped with a closed-caption option. So what about making online content optimized for people with disabilities?

    Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to those with disabilities. Generally speaking, Section 508 requires agencies to give employees and members of the public who have disabilities access to information comparable to the access available to others. Nothing in Section 508 requires private web sites to comply, unless they are receiving federal funds or are under contract with a federal agency.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) was modeled after the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, but it is a separate law with separate requirements. Title III of the ADA outlaws discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of “public accommodation.” Till now, courts have generally held that the ADA cannot be applied to activities on the Internet. That may change.

    While neither the ADA nor Section 508 currently requires that private companies optimize online content for people with disabilities, more and more companies are doing so voluntarily. Why? Here are a couple reasons for you to consider:

    Marketing and PR

    Treating all customers fairly isn’t just a nice thing to do — its message can carry a lot of PR weight, especially when your business is the first organization in your industry to voluntarily meet the accessibility requirements of the ADA and Section 508. Private entity compliance with ADA and Section 508 accessibility standards also provides a compelling PR opportunity to tell the public a human-interest story that both builds and strengthens customer relationships.

    Legal

    What is considered a “public accommodation”? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets a “public accommodation” as a private entity that owns, operates, or leases restaurants, hotels, offices, stores, parks, schools, libraries, and other such places. The broader meaning for “public accommodation” is any place that has public access. The increasing move, especially in the financial industry, away from physical locations and towards e-commerce, particularly when coupled with marketing that touts the ease of online transactions and encouraging customers to increase their online interactions, means that this debate will only intensify.

    Compliance with the ADA and Section 508 isn’t easy. Making electronic information accessible to those with disabilities involves fine-tuning interactive information with specific best-practice design and coding methodologies that work hand-in-hand with content navigation tools for those individuals. Information needs to include coded recognition for screen readers, mouse-free adaptability, tagged page navigation, advanced scrolling…and a lot more. Achieving full compliance also involves carefully choreographing IT, web design, and web development for a unified, optimized output.

    Some companies have formed special teams to try to tackle optimizing content. But for most companies, this is a larger task than they can handle internally. Trellist works with companies, including leading financial institutions, to make their content ADA- and Section 508-compliant for a variety of reasons–PR, legal, or maybe they just feel like it’s the right thing to do.

    If you’d like to learn more about optimizing your content for people with disabilities, follow us on twitter @trellist , or connect with us via info@trellist.com.

  • Is it Really Time to Shut Down the Malls?

    by Jim Dixon | May 21, 2012

    Who do you trust?  Is it an advisor that can excite a conference room with sampled data and compelling predictions, or the professional that relies on analytics and a rational approach to reach a conclusion?

    Let’s examine an issue about the behavior of smartphone owners. According to comScore, smartphone owners overwhelmingly report that they prefer shopping online over shopping in a physical store. We’ve seen numbers clearly stating that three out of four smartphone owners prefer online shopping and are increasingly turning to their smartphones for this. With more than 150 million smartphone owners in the US (fast approaching 60% market penetration), these preferences are highly significant. With this kind of empirical evidence, we should close down the malls, divest our retail stocks and double-down on eCommerce competency.

    But hold on…aren’t some physical stores still turning a profit? And while big box stores may be downsizing, it is in favor of opening retail shops with smaller footprints, less overhead, and an updated, more intimate shopping experience. While mall retail space may be light in some areas, other stores continue to thrive. I still go there to shop, and I see my friends there.  Are we the last ones?

    While the evidence in question strongly suggests that smartphone users love the idea of internet shopping and report that “they prefer it”,  a bit more research reveals that they are more likely to browse online and actually shop in physical stores, according to Wave Collapse, a specialty market research firm.  In fact, 87% of smartphone users actually shopped in a store last week and if they buy regularly, the numbers are even higher.

     

    As it turns out, 84% of smartphone owners use them to enhance their in-store shopping experience. The vast majorities of smartphone shoppers read reviews (73%), compare prices with other retail outlets (71%) and scan QR codes to get more product details (57%), according to Nielsen Research.

    Although smartphones usage is growing and dynamically changing how we integrate mobile into the marketing plan, it does not suggest that retail is dead to 75% of the 150 million smartphone users.

    Bold statistics used to drive the bandwagon forward can create the illusion of a compelling trend. This is not new. However, the reminder here is that we must look at the numbers through a well-balanced and thoughtful filter, and depend on good judgment to enable creative solutions that work. Surveys and charts tell an important story when balanced by reason and educated instinct from experienced business people.

    At Trellist, we depend on analytics and data to make good decisions…. but the data is always part of a balanced decision-making process by experienced business-savvy professionals, operating in consensus and using sound business judgment.

    So, don’t shut down the malls just yet and look at the numbers carefully.

    If you want to know more about Trellist’s capabilities, feel free to drop us a line: info@trellist.com, or follow us on twitter @Trellist

  • Re-examining Our Image of the Black Friday Shopper

    by Renee Cohen | Dec 02, 2011

    Several years ago, we defined the prototypical shopper as a woman with a family, two and a half children and a dog, living in suburban house with a minivan. On Black Friday, we pictured the holiday shopper lugging bags from eleven stores, smiling while she struggled to carry all her purchases. This year, we saw her as an aggressive and brutal beast, trampling other Wal-Mart shoppers and fighting for $2 waffle makers. While we might find amusement – and sometimes horror – at the exaggerated images shown on the nightly news, we know better. Let’s really examine today’s Black Friday Shopper.

    She, (because 62% of purchase decisions are made by a woman - NPD), started holiday shopping on Black Friday (52% of Americans did, according to ComScore). She did not complete her shopping on Friday and used work time on Monday to shop online (28% percent did, up 33% from last year according to NPD).

    She is within reach of her mobile device 75% of the time, often taking it to bed and the bathroom. According to IBM, her favorite mobile device is the iPad, and she’s more than twice as likely to use a mobile device to research retailers this year (10.8% vs 3.8% last year). At the same time, she is three times more likely to actually complete a purchase through her mobile device this year (6.6% vs 2.3%). Her favorite activity on her mobile device is to research gifts and prices while still in the store.

    While online, she watches mobile videos on Google (according to IBM’s Coremetics data). She most likely viewed advertising videos on Hulu, and has opted in to receiving retailer-based emails weekly. She is connected to brands on Facebook (80% are), and she has more friends her age than younger or older than she is. Although, according to IBM, less than 1% of purchases were directly inspired by a referral from social media (0.56% of sales on Black Friday), 86% of all social media referrals came from Facebook.

    We think today’s Black Friday Shopper is very different from what we saw on ABC and NBC News. She is a smart, mobile-savvy, well-researched consumer who seeks value based on real information and the opinions of the people and brands that she trusts.

    Just a thought – Happy Holidays!

  • Making Online Advertising More Relevant to Customers

    by Joe Kearns | May 19, 2011
    Web advertising has been evolving ever since companies started trying to generate sales online.  As web users gain experience and their surfing habits evolve, advertisers must also change their habits to get attention and clicks with their ads.   Mass messaging, where a single message is expected to attract everyone, is a frequently used yet ineffective approach.   To succeed, advertisers must focus their attention on effectively communicating with the user rather than pushing non-targeted and often irrelevant messages to the masses. 

    In years past, when someone was surfing the web they were barraged with popups and flashing banners that had no relevance to their interests. These intrusive ads would have little or no response and no impact on sales.
    Recently, more sophisticated methods have been introduced for serving ads to users based on their behavior and interests.  Surfing behavior is constantly tracked, and sites can now serve banner ads based on this information.  This is a significant step forward in making web advertising more relevant and more profitable.  Sites serving these banners are due to receive more ad revenue while advertisers will receive more qualified clicks. 

    The problem is that marketers continue to use mass messaging strategies which have very low response rates, and these rates are rapidly declining.  Many marketers do not understand or acknowledge the ever changing landscape of the web.  Why is this?

    Many marketers remain under the impression that they can generate results without investing the time and effort to create more targeted strategies and campaigns based on customer interests.   This approach does not work because of changing user habits and expectations, and the evolving digital landscape. 

    Customers have changed their habits to become more conscientious of their clicks.  Users now respond to messages that speak to them, are relevant to their interests and needs, and feel natural.  These types of messages have a greater response as they are important to the customer’s decision making. 

    The digital landscape is changing and will always be an evolving entity.  Right now, Social Media is serving as the platform in which users spend most of their time online.  Everything about Social Media is personalized for the user, based on information the user shared freely when creating their profile, so why shouldn’t the ads?  The information is available now to create meaningful and engaging campaigns for users, and is waiting to be leveraged to connect you with your target.

    Trellist is serving as the bridge to change a mass market approach into a personalized strategy to find the target demographic, present a compelling message and add value to the user’s online experience. 
  • QR Codes: The Missing Link

    by Chris Wallace | Apr 15, 2011

    You’ve probably seen a QR Code before but never took notice of those innocuous square barcodes that appear on everything from product packaging to movie cutouts.  While QR Codes are close cousins to traditional barcodes, they are far more versatile to marketers.  While you may already know what QR codes are, you may not have realized some of the fascinating ways they can be used. 

     A QR (Quick Response) Code is a square, matrix barcode that can be read by QR Reader applications on any smartphone.  These barcodes can be used to store data and access features on your mobile device such as a Web Browser, Phone, GPS, even individual apps.  insert

    How can a QR code be used as a tactic within a successful campaign? While the answer is always, “That depends on your business and marketing goals”, let’s explore some concepts and ideas that could be applied to many types of campaigns.

    As always in digital media, the critical side of the equation is the delivery.  Applications or pages that users link to must provide some unique value or service.  Even more critical, the app or page should be relevant to the user’s needs at the time and place where they scan your QR code.  And, in all cases, pages must be optimized for mobile viewing.  Nothing is more frustrating than going through the effort to scan a QR code to find a page that doesn’t work on your phone.   

    Keeping those guidelines in mind, here are your ways you can apply QR codes for your business:

    When a QR Code lives on:

    You could offer:

     

    Print Advertising

    Mobile couponing for bricks and mortar, sign up for SMS messaging, special offers, links to mobile commerce, scan to call.

    Retail Receipts, Branded Materials

    Mobile customer feedback forms, mobile coupons, promo codes for next visit, scan to call, scan for a survey

     

    Email

    Ability to move from the desktop to the mobile environment, i.e.  link users phones directly to the app store to download your new iPhone  app.

     

    Outdoor and Transit Advertising

     

    GPS directions to nearest location, geolocated couponing, even scavenger hunts (scan all the codes and get clues where to find the next one).

     

     

    Point of Purchase Displays      Product information, nutritional information, check-in and share via social media, link to product information and promotional videos.

    Tradeshow Booths                   Links to Whitepapers, Vcards for contact info, RSVP for events/breakout sessions, coupons for free drinks at sponsored Happy Hours!

    Retail/Garment Tags                 Product information or specs, product videos, etc.

    The possible combinations of QR code location and associated applications are limitless, and we’d like to hear your ideas as well.  QR Codes are another great example of the intersection of Marketing and Technology.  Trellist has the creative ideas, marketing savvy and technical horsepower to help you deliver on concepts like these.

  • Listening to The Consumer: Gap Misses the Mark

    by Joe Kearns | Nov 01, 2010

    Gap, Inc., the apparel retailer, had established its logo through consistent usage over the past 20 years. Recently, Gap decided to try its luck with an updated logo and revealed the new creation on the Gap website without warning.  This move ignited spirited conversation within the online community, which responded with mostly harsh criticism of the new logo. As a result of the controversy, Gap announced it will not be using the highly-criticized new logo and will instead continue with the existing logo.  Consequently, the time and expense to design the new mark were wasted.  Gap’s mistake was not in wanting to update its logo.  The mistake was changing the logo in a vacuum.

    Is this really about an unfavorable logo design change or was the backlash due to consumers’ lack of involvement in the logo update?  Consumers were left out of the design process altogether, no input and no explanation.  In today’s society, where consumers have more access than ever to brands and companies, Gap mistakenly chose to keep consumers out of the loop. Social networking outlets are the new “It” child online and companies are anxious to use (or misuse) every outlet available to them.  Gap got a quick lesson that these outlets are not only for pushing marketing to customers but rather a two-way street, and criticism can come rolling in, sometimes immediately.  Companies should evaluate using Facebook or Twitter to get customers involved in their branding changes.  There is an opportunity to connect with customers and gather valuable feedback and involvement from the fan base regarding certain changes to the company, such as a logo update. Gap and other companies do not need to take every posting on their Facebook wall as credible information that speaks for every customer.  The objective is to create an interaction between company and fan base to tighten that connectivity.  Connection to the brand is why users feel the need to follow companies via social networking venues.  Gap could have created buzz and some excitement by just getting customers involved and talking about the design update, but it didn’t.  Gap acknowledged the mistake in a press release on the corporate site: “We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community.” Companies like Gap will find ways to capitalize on this new online community and create a tighter connection between customers and their brand.  Even if Gap had created the Mona Lisa of logos and asked the online community for their opinion, it may still have received negative feedback. However, the community would have been involved in the decision.

    In these early days of social media networking, many companies are treating social media sites as just another online channel.  Why not?  The cost for entry is relatively low and it’s simple to keep content updated.  However, just having a Facebook page or Twitter feed isn’t enough – there should be a strategy to increase brand connectivity, increase brand awareness and gather feedback from customers.  A sound social media strategy is a marketing necessity, and Trellist is helping clients leverage these networking outlets to increase brand affinity  and customer loyalty.

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