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Help Your Customers: Make Your Site Accessible

Fourth in a Series

As we get older, we marvel (grouse, carp) at how the type on websites keeps getting smaller. Until we realize that it’s just us. Getting older. But with age comes wisdom, because we appreciate the importance of accessibility. Being aware that some visitors have difficulty viewing and interacting with your site helps you create something that allows everyone to participate.

Are You Accessible?

Put your site through this accessibility checklist and see how it fares.

• Your site is coded for screen-reader software to assist sight-impaired visitors.

• Your on-screen type has high contrast and good readability against background.

• You use white space and good line spacing. You don’t use Flash or slow-loading plug-ins.

• Images have coded ALT tags for screen-reader software and search engines.

Flashy? Maybe. Flash? Not So Much.

Not too long ago, everyone was scrambling to jazz up their websites with all kinds of motion and whiz-bang. For the most part, that meant elements – or even the entire site – programmed in Flash. That was then. It’s definitely not now. We’re not saying there’s no room for Flash, but the case against it continues to mount. It’s not as searchable, and it can contribute to slow load times. The same goes for other add-ons. Use them sparingly, if at all.

Design and Typography

Here are a few tips to help you raise the accessibility/readability bar on your site.

• Use a font size/spacing that is easy to read.

• Position your logo prominently throughout; link it to the homepage.

• Create a tagline that stakes out a unique claim.

• Make your homepage digestible in less than five seconds.

• Provide a clear path to essential company information.

• Clearly identify main navigation points.

• Limit the number of buttons and links.

• Ensure that ads and pop-ups are as unobtrusive as possible.

Not Just for the Vision-Challenged

Perhaps the best thing about delivering greater accessibility? It ensures better engagement with every visitor. It forces you to think about making your website attractive, welcoming, easily digested, quick to capture attention and deliver a clear, concise message. The older and wiser truly appreciate it. The younger and more free-spirited simply expect it.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Next week: Visuals. 

Dysfunctional Website: Bad for Your Business Family

Third in a Series

Websites used to carry this sort of disclaimer: “Best viewed with so and so browser.” No longer. Because that’s discrimination. And that’s just wrong. Truth is, people are spoiled. They expect your site to work, regardless of how or where they’re viewing it. They’re just demanding that way.

How Does Your Site Measure Up?

Check your site against these criteria. Be honest now.

• Your website is optimized for multiple screen sizes – desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.

• Members of the media can easily find and download key information and photography about you.

• Your site can be updated internally with an easy-to-use CMS and it is, in fact, updated frequently.

• Your site loads quickly – that is, all the bells and whistles are done loading in less than five seconds.

The Multiple Platform World

Consider the typical web user these days. Oh wait. No such thing. We can, however, construct a hypothetical user, just for the sake of argument. Wakes up to the smart phone alarm, decides to check the Hong Kong index to help jar herself awake. Checks email on her iPad while waiting for the coffee to brew – checks a couple random websites. Gets on her latest-generation PC laptop for some serious browsing during the long rail commute. Works at a corporate-dictated old PC system all day.

Think she’s going to organize her searching according to who has a website compatible with her various web-access platforms? Right. Think she’ll switch platforms when she discovers your site doesn’t work on the one she’s using? Right again.

Invisibility: Good Superpower. Bad Strategy

If your site doesn’t function properly, people won’t be able to find you – or they’ll find you, get frustrated and leave. For good. Furthermore, you risk being invisible to search engines – which means you’re invisible, period.

In addition to ensuring that your site programming is visible to most platforms – we use 95 percent of all current platforms as a minimum criteria – here are a few other website functionality criteria to keep in mind.

• Keep your navigation intuitive, easy and logical.

• Don’t clutter it with too many call-outs and images.

• Put thought into site content beyond the homepage.

• Mind the detail. Because the devil really is in there.

• Check to make certain that all your links work.

• Don’t over-direct your visitors, keep it as simple.

• Test your site’s functionality on all formats and search engines.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Next week: Accessibility.

Users as Columbus: Using Good Navigation to Explore Whole New Worlds

Second in a Series

We’ve all been there. You’re on a website looking for store hours and instead pull up photos of the CEO’s dog. All because the navigation was confusing and misleading. Unfortunately, there’s no Siri or GPS to tell visitors how to get where they want to go. It’s your job to provide navigation that makes sense to them and makes things easy to find.  

True or False?

Look at your website, then ask yourself if these statements are true.

• Your site orders information logically, intuitively.

• Every page uses easy, consistent navigation.

• You perform usability testing to confirm ease of use

• Your navigation button titles are short and clear.

• Your footer provides contact, policies, social media, etc.

Make it Easy

Most Internet users think they’re regular Magellans when it comes to navigating the net. But your navigation needs to serve those who might not be quite so savvy (not to mention the wanna-be Magellans who can’t actually navigate their way out of a bathtub). Even with great content, a hard-to-navigate website can’t turn visitors into customers. But it can turn them into angry surfers who will never again darken your url.

Let’s Get Started

Here are a few strategies to pursue as you work to make your site more user-friendly.


• Make your website’s organization and structure clear in your navigation toolbar.

• When all of your content is evident on the toolbar, your site looks tightly focused.

• Navigation is not a one-size-fits-all. Design your toolbar according to your site type.

• Remember: A well-designed toolbar provides simple, fast, organized navigation.

Menu Subtitles

        • Adding subtitles to the main navigation menu improves your website’s navigation.

        • Subtitles increase aesthetic value – something visitors will notice and appreciate.

        • Subtitles make your navigation more usable and provide important extra information.

Drop-Down Menus

        • An older, yet highly effective technique. A good reminder not to simply dismiss the tried-and-true.

• Drop-down menus are the opposite of subtitles. They appear after clicking on desired information.

• They work because they’re familiar, so users intuitively know what will happen when they click.


• Icons help you grab user’s attention and make navigation links more descriptive and informative.

• A picture is worth a thousand words – imagery stimulates users more efficiently than simple texts.

Creative Footers

• Many web design experts use navigation links in the footer. Why? Because they work.

• Users wondering what to do next often scroll to the footer. An engaging link there keeps them onsite.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Next week: Let’s get functional.

Is Your Website Just Another Pretty Face?

First in a Series

Your website may be pretty, but does it have personality? Is it witty and engaging, or is it the kind of party guest you’d wish would leave early because it bores people to tears?

Good content is what drives people to your site, and it’s what keeps them there. And make sure your content is constantly updated, because there’s nothing worse than someone who tells the same stories over and over.

Can You Answer ‘Yes’?

• Your website offers clear calls-to-action throughout.

• Tagline and body copy quickly say who you are, what you do.

• Your homepage communicates key points at a glance.

• You frequently update your website’s content.

• Your website copy conveys your “brand voice.”

Be brutally honest. Remember, content is king. It will largely determine your site’s success. Then keep these points in mind as you start thinking about what you need to do.

• Lack of quality content may hinder your SEO efforts.

• Be different from the masses – try to provide unique content.

• Convey expertise and confidence but don’t overdo it.

• Share and express your knowledge in meaningful, helpful ways.

Keep It Short

When creating content, remember to keep it short and concise. Don’t dumb it down – we’re not talking Dick and Jane here. But we’re not talking Jet Propulsion Lab either. Use headlines –  they facilitate scanning, which is how most people read. Use bullets for lists. Again, it assists scanning and provides emphasis.

Your content design should actively – and interactively – engage visitors in ways that are appropriate to your goals and prospective clients

• Put your most important information toward the top of your page.

• Avoid text that looks difficult, boring or confusing – readers reject that.

• Use white space effectively to break up large blocks of text.

• Don’t put your text in one big block. Separate it into paragraphs.

Reap the Rewards

Follow these guidelines and you’ll almost certainly attract more visitors and keep them longer. Which you can track using simple analytics. Yes, yes, we’re getting to that. Stay tuned to this space for a primer on analytics.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up.

Next week: Navigating your navigation.

New Television Spot Celebrates 100 Years of the Kansas State Fair

We’ve pulled out all the stops for a :30 TV spot for the Kansas State Fair. It honors an event that “Never Gets Old.” Personally, the spot never gets old either. I can watch it over and over and find something new to laugh about each time.

This is Greteman Group’s ninth year as the fair’s agency of record – and the creative just keeps getting better and better. And that’s saying something. Our very first campaign won best of show at the International Association of Fairs and Expos – and we’ve racked up lots of other wins, including a Telly for the 2011 spot.

Kick Up Your Heels

This one’s my favorite so far. I dare you to watch it and not want to don a straw hat and join in the party of a century. Yes, the Kansas State Fair’s turning 100. And, believe me, this celebration won’t be like your great granddaddy’s.

The commercial features a boater-hat-wearing, party-horn-blowing, cowboy-boot-kicking, banjo-picking barker welcoming one and all. The centennial event’s fun-loving mascot gives a high-energy performance that takes us through several fun favorites – the carnival, midway and entertainment. A starry night sky serves as a beckoning backdrop throughout the spot.

Love That Local Talent

The campaign also includes outdoor and radio. Kansas musicians in the broadcast spots include Tom Page on vocals, guitar, mandolin; Richard Crowson on banjo; Jonathan Eaton on bass; Tommy Crabb on percussion; and Charlie King for voiceover. Statewide marketing efforts support the fair, which runs September 7-16.

Here’s a head-scratcher for you to ponder. The first Kansas State Fair was held in 1913, making the 2012 event the 100th fair. The 2013 fair will be the official 100th anniversary. You do the math.

Watch the video and use the lyrics below to sing along.

100 Years of the Kansas State Fair Lyrics

A hundred years of the Kansas State Fair

Put on your boater and I’ll meet you there


Hop on the vittles.

Jump on the rides

Hit the big shows

(and some shows on the side)


Your great big party

a blast from the past

It’s a hundred years

and a million laughs


September 7th through the 16th in Hutchinson


Let’s have a hundred more

Cuz I’ve been told

The Kansas State Fair