iPad or Android Tablets?

It may come as a bit of a surprise but tablet computers have been around for about 20 years, but very few people were buying them. This all changed in April 2010, when Apple stormed the consumer electronics market with their iPad.

Its popularity may well have been because of the iPads resemblance to their already very popular iPhone, it even runs the same operating system. The iPad grabbed the attention of the public and turned tablet computers into the ‘must have’ computer accessory that they are today.

Tablet computers really are the ultimate in electronic simplicity. Very portable, with very few built in controls except for a flat touch screen interface, tablet computers are attractive, easy to use and some would even say they are sexy.

It wasn’t long before the Apple products had some serious competition. Google had already released an open source operating system for smart phones that they had called Android and it was easy to scale it up for tablet computers the way Apple had scaled up its iOS operating system for the iPad. The Android 3.0 operating system they had codenamed ‘Honeycomb,’ was the first version intended for tablet use and in February 2011 Motorola released the first Android tablet called the Xoom.

Not unlike the iPad, Android tablets have a touch screen interface, which allows the user to activate icons with the tap of a finger or move objects around and scroll screens with a swiping motion. Both Apple and the various Android manufacturers offer an online marketplace where programs, referred to as apps, can be purchased and downloaded directly to the device. In fact, Android tablets are so similar to iPads that at a casual glance from a user unfamiliar with the two different types of tablet might mistake one for the other.

So which tablet do you choose?

Only Apple makes the iPad and there are only two versions of it available: the iPad and the iPad 2. On the other hand, a company that can manufacture hardware that will support Google’s operating system can make an Android tablet and the chances are that some companies will do a better job of it than others. Some companies even disguise their Android tablets as something else. The Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader is an android tablet with a limited range of features and a small subset of available Android apps. But it is possible to compare the iPad against some Android tablets.

When the Motorola Xoom hit the shelves, Motorola knew that it would have to beat the iPad’s specification, so it was shipped with a dual core processor, potentially allowing software to run twice as fast as on the iPad. The Xoom also had two on board cameras that consisted of a 5 megapixel camera facing forward and a 2 megapixel camera facing backward toward the user to allow for video chat. This was exciting for the many people who had been annoyed that Apple hadn’t included a camera on its first iPad. The Xoom’s screen, at 10.1 inches, was slightly larger than the iPad’s, and its 1280×800 display offered slightly higher graphics resolution. The Xoom comes with 32 gigabytes of memory, but its memory can be expanded using MicroSD cards.

But Apple still had the advantage for most consumers. This was because computer programmers had been developing apps for the iPad for nearly a year before the Xoom appeared and the Apple App store had thousands of programs while the Android app store was virtually empty. And Apple then struck a new blow in the hardware battle when it replaced the original iPad with the iPad 2.

Android Tablets vs. iPad 2

The iPad 2 was released in March 2011, only a month after the Xoom appeared, and its upgraded, new and improved hardware eliminated the main advantages that Motorola’s device had over Apple’s. Like the Xoom, the iPad 2 has front and rear facing video cameras that support Apple’s FaceTime video chat software. It also has a dual core processor and comes in a slimmer, lighter case than the first iPad, a feature that Apple always emphasizes in their advertising campaigns.

But other Android tablets are reaching the stores every few weeks, each trying to improve on the iPad 2 in some way or another. Some of them compete on price, with models like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer beating the iPad 2’s price ticket by about £125. Some compete on size, with the Samsung Galaxy Tablet being both slimmer and lighter, as well as slightly cheaper than the iPad 2, and some just try to look a bit neater in design, although Apple has always been tricky to beat when it comes to stylish looking devices. One area where Androids are still unequivocally beating the iPad 2 is video resolution, with most running at 1,280 x 800 pixels compared to the 1,024 x768 pixels on both iPad versions. Android tablets are also more user upgradeable than iPads, with Apple mostly restricting the features to the ones that come in the standard model. And unlike some Androids, Apple doesn’t support USB connectors. An area where Android tablets seem to be losing to Apple is battery life; an awful lot of reviews suggest that the iPad 2 runs much longer without recharging.

In the area of apps, the iPad 2 is still way ahead. There are now over 100,000 apps available through the Apple App Store. This number gets even larger when you take into account the roughly 500,000 apps for the iPhone, most of which will also run on the iPad 2, though they won’t necessarily take advantage of its larger screen size. It’s harder to determine the number of Android apps because for whatever reason, Google doesn’t make that figure public, but a recent estimate was that the number was at a pretty poor 232. Of course, that doesn’t count Android phone apps that also run on Android tablets and there are additional Android tablet apps that are specific to a single brand of tablet, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Motorola Xoom. But even taking all of that into account, Apple is still winning the app war. Having said that, some apps, such as the ever popular game Angry Birds, are available for both iPad and Android.

There is a significant difference between the way that Apple deals with apps and the way that Android tablets deal with them. Apple only allows apps to be sold through its online App Store and must approve every app before it can be offered for sale. Android devices use a more open model, where anyone can release an Android app and nobody has to get approval for it first. This difference is of far more interest to programmers than to users, but it provides an incentive for the programmers to move over to Android development and may lead to the availability of far more Android apps in the near future.

Ultimately, whether you buy an iPad 2 or an Android may come down to what factors you consider more important: the hardware, the software or the price. If you consider hardware specifications to be the deciding factor, you’ll need to compare the specs for the iPad2 with the specs for each Android tablet on the market; this should keep you busy for quite some time. If software matters more to you, you’ll probably want to go with the iPad 2, which is far more likely than an Android tablet to have exactly the apps that you need. And if price matters, bear in mind that unless you go with a modified Android tablet like the Barnes & Noble one, which users can apparently modify to behave more like a full Android tablet, you’re unlikely to undercut Apple’s prices by more than about £125. But if that sort of saving makes that much of a difference to you, then a low cost Android tablet like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer may be just the sort of tablet you have been looking for.

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Make your website mobile device friendly

More than 40 per cent of people in the UK have made purchases over Smartphone’s, according to the IAB Consumer M-Commerce Study. As more and more potential customers use mobile phones, you should ensure that your website works as well on a small screen as it does on a traditional PC or laptop.

Before you create a whole new Smartphone friendly website, decide as to whether your existing website is suitable for viewing on a smaller mobile device screen.

Look at your existing website before you rush out and adapt your website. Mobile device screens are getting bigger, so much so that there are now devices known as ‘Phablets’. These are crosses between a mobile phone and a tablet, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note, so most sites are already usable. Your website might just need a few minor tweaks.

If your existing website has a lot of graphics and a great amount of detail, it is probably not going to cope too well. But if your website has a simple, clean, easy to use and fresh looking layout, chances are it will look really good on a mobile screen.

A good search tool is very important. Mobile device users find it difficult to keep scrolling, and multiple drop down menus can be really annoying to use.

Who will use your mobile device friendly website?

Firstly, you should use a free web analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, to find out where your visitors come from, this enables you to be more targeted in your overall approach to search engine optimisation.

The analytics service allows you to monitor and see if there’s an increase in people accessing your site from an iPhone or Android device.  If Smartphone or tablet users are visiting your site and bouncing off immediately, you should seriously consider making some changes.

Look at how your website looks and behaves on the device your target customer’s use. Business-to-business customers tend to use a Blackberry, whereas the average consumer may be more likely to use an iPhone or other such Smartphone. Remember, the Blackberry was initially the favoured business phone as it was designed to work particularly well with email. Email itself is now on the decline because of all the other methods of communication available on the web.

Ensure your website technology offers mobile device support

If you need to make your website more Smartphone friendly, check whether your existing website package includes mobile support.

Many existing content management systems, such as Joomla, can put code into your site so that someone browsing on their laptop sees the full site, and on a mobile it defaults to a stripped-down version, which has the same basic functionality but should be easier to use.

A lot of web designers would likely charge £2,000 upwards to create a basic mobile device friendly website template, although this varies depending on the complexity of the website in question.

Create a Smartphone friendly website

For your mobile friendly site, down sized images tend to ensure faster loading speeds and enable them to fit on the smaller screen.

Also some content management systems allow you to upload images and it will create thumbnail only sites. But you can scale images down easily yourself by using Adobe Photoshop, too.

It’s also quite important to remember that a lot of mobile visitors may be out and about and may only have one signal bar of connectivity on their device.

Keep in mind that users are likely to be even more concerned about on line security because it is a relatively new medium. Products such as Google Checkout or PayPal allow the e commerce website owner to take secure payments via mobile phone, in exchange for a small transaction fee.

In short, usability should be your first consideration when designing a Smartphone friendly website. If tablet or Smartphone users can navigate your website easily, and find and buy products without facing the usual barriers, you are more likely to have them return as repeat customers. This fact alone will encourage them to pass on the details of your website to other consumers too.

Although online sales are increasing year on year, many people are still worried about using an e commerce website for the first time. If one of their friends has said they used it and had a positive experience, this is worth its weight in gold and is arguably more effective than signing up and paying for a paper advertisement.

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Some tips on how to promote your website

There are literally dozens of ways that can further promote an existing website in order to try and raise its online profile. Some of these methods are tried and tested whereas others are a bit of an unknown quantity but could be well worth doing nonetheless.

All AFM websites are already well Search Engine Optimised and cover the areas that our clients originally wanted to target. We follow a checklist of everything a well Search Engine Optimised website should contain prior to publication and these are all in place before the website goes live. We identify the clients target audience, research what relevant search terms are being used by internet users and apply them to the website content.

Predictably however, Google has now moved the goalposts somewhat when it comes topage ranking of websites. This could well be designed to encourage owners pay them for an Adwords campaign. These campaigns are fine if you really know what you’re doing and have a very specific product/area you want to push but can cost a lot of money if you’re not careful and often, your products and services can be advertised in areas that you wouldn’t even consider delivering to. The simple fact is that over the last year, more and more people have launched websites to promote their goods and services and Google has been able to make the most out of this. As of March 2012 there were well over 644 million active websites, this showed an increase of 31.5 million over the February figures so there’s a lot of competition out there now and this is why website owners need to work harder and smarter to maintain or increase the effectiveness of their websites.

What can be done to increase traffic to a website?
•    Generate some articles using valid search terms such as products and areas you want to target. These are a good way of increasing the overall content of a website as essentially, what Google wants is quality and quantity content in text format.
•    Using pictures to create multiple sections to a gallery with valid descriptions (search terms).
•    Creating a Flikr account, again with pictures. These would all link back to the website with a hypertext link. Google is now making a big thing about keeping websites current and up to date. One of the ways they are doing this is by date stamping images that it indexes from websites.
•    Creating as many business directory entries as possible. (A lot of these are free to use).
•    Link building with Manufacturers websites and other companies you do business with.
•    Regularly updating your social networking pages such as Facebook or Twitter. There’s no need for this to take over your life, a simple 10 minutes tweeting a day could well be enough.
•    Generating blogs, press releases or email newsletters.
•    Respond to link swap requests.
•    Consider the possibility of advertising other peoples businesses on your website. (Not competitors though)

This is by no means an exhaustive list!

All of the above suggestions take time and effort to achieve, and are not what everyone wants to get involved with but the days of publishing a website and leaving it to work its magic are now over. Websites now require at the very least, a trickle feed of fresh, relevant content to keep the search engines interested, thus driving more traffic to the website. Regularly updating a Facebook page and/or a Twitter account can have a very positive effect on your websites page ranking. Two reasons as to why businesses are getting involved in social media are to acquire new clients and stay connected with their current and potential clients. There are a number of ways in which social media ads play a pivotal role in increasing your page rank. The ideas and methods mentioned below will help guide you in the direction of improving your page rank using social media.

Publish Blog Content Over Social Media
The best method to securing good page rank is to have fresh compelling new content on a consistent basis so that search engine spiders can pick up them. To score extra points from these bots you should publish your content across all of your social media platforms. Be sure to focus your efforts on using keywords effectively, by having a keyword rich title and description. Don’t forget to include social media share buttons so that others can easily share your content as well as including hyperlinks back to your page.
Another great idea would be installing an SEO plugin on your website, which can easily help you add SEO meta‐data and other relevant keywords to your post instead of relying on generic keywords. Furthermore, you should create an environment in which people can easily and freely converse with you over different social media platforms.

Acquire More Links
Guest blog opportunities are something worth considering. By enabling guest bloggers to post on your site, you can acquire a few backlinks to your website by having your guest blogger include a link or two back to their webpage. In most cases, the authors include a little bio snippet and include their hyperlinks at the bottom of their post. For example, if you or your guest blogger write a small blurb about yourself and have also included a few links that link back to your website, this looks good to Google’s spider bots and the more links that are referring traffic back to your site the better your ranking will become! Both parties win this way!

Make More Comments
For this, you need to follow a couple of top ranking blogs in your niche area and leave proper thought provoking and keyword rich comments to blog posts. It is better if you leave your Twitter handle or Facebook fan page URL rather than linking back to your
website. Connecting through social media platforms can be termed as a loyalty method to subscribe to your blog and is usually an easy way to get sales conversion. It has to be made simple in order for people to get connected with you and develop the proper
relationships.

By doing things this way, Google recognizes your social media influence and then can raise your page rank accordingly. So when Google sees others discussing you over social media platforms, it all adds up and will translate into a better overall page rank!

Become More Sharable
Providing your visitors a couple of easy ways to share your content would be a good start. For this, your set tweets should be below 120 characters so that it is easy for others to re‐tweet. Also, try writing a great hook over the Facebook link, share along with adding
up your own commentary. The content in which you share over your different social media platforms should be of good quality and worth reading. While sharing content over social media if you choose to be a quality content creator rather than someone who simply shares things from here and there, you give Google enough reasons to appreciate. The appreciation from Google means you get better page ranks.

By incorporating the above tips and tricks in all of your social media platforms can bring in lots of appreciation from Google in the form of better page rank. However, this is not an overnight phenomenon, it will require a couple of weeks to see your page soaring.
Keep trying these ideas; you should see the difference soon.

Give the search engines what they want!
Some website owners will want to invest a fair amount of time, effort and money into their websites and others will not. The internet changes pretty regularly and to have even a hope of keeping ahead of the game, we all need to adhere to the ‘rules’ that the major search engines impose upon us.
The upside of a website is that the work put into it is cumulative unlike an ad with the Yellow Pages which will only keep you where you were previously. With that in mind, we do regular work for many clients, at our standard hourly rate, implementing the above suggestions into their websites. We frequently negotiate special discounts for this type of ongoing SEO work.
We always keep our ears firmly to the ground for any new developments that could have implications for our client’s websites so that we can address these as and when they occur.

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So what makes a good website?

Everyone wants a good website, but what are the main points to consider when you are starting out? If we’re accustomed to using the World Wide Web, then we’ll know a good website when we see it, or will we?

A good website isn’t necessarily the website that jumps out at you, grabbing your attention, although this is a pretty good starting point. Even the most beautiful and unique looking websites may well be nothing more than window dressing when the visitor tries to delve a little deeper into it.

The navigation may well be very confusing, any options to purchase the goods or services could be over complicated or the text content could be lacking a full description of what the website owner’s area of expertise is or what they sell or supply.

So with this in mind, let’s take a quick look at some of the key elements that should be addressed when setting up a website.

Some key elements that make up a good website.

  • There should be a good visual design:  Design really does cover everything that becomes the visuals elements of your website. From the company logo, the font used the amount of white space, the overall theme, right through to the layout and colour schemes.
    Using a theme that relates to the subject matter of your website can help to keep the content on track and more targeted. When it comes to design it is important to remember to use white space and think about colour usage wisely.
  • Navigation:  Navigation is a vital part of any website. This is what gets your visitors where they need to go to get information or to do certain things. Whether the menu is along the top, or along the left side of the website. It should be very easy to use and uncluttered. It is always a good idea to group similar pages under the same topic, in other words sub-pages, to streamline the navigation.
  • The right kind of content:  A good website should provide your visitors with the relevant, quality and quantity of content that allows the visitor to see that you provide want they have been searching for. Also ensure you have a good amount of relevant, keyword rich content that is written in a journalistic fashion.
  • Credibility of the website or brand:  A good website must instil trust from a visitor. Achieve this by using items that help show beyond doubt that you are a legitimate resource. One way you can do this is by utilizing
    verified links and by clearly stating your identity and contact information. Having social media pages with lots of customer feedback can also help you build a trusting relationship with customers and potential customers alike.
  • Call to action:  The call to action is a set of words that urge or persuade your website visitors to take an immediate course of action on your website.  There is no actual formula for a good call to action. The key is to continuously test what works best for your website and your audience. Test the placement, size and colour of these and ensure you use actionable words for maximum effect.
  • Phone and tablet viewed websites:  Ensure your website is easily viewed on a mobile internet enabled device. Lots people are looking at your website from a mobile phone, PDA or tablet. If it has a screen and a microchip, it is probably capable of accessing the internet, don’t miss out on all the potential mobile device users.

What you should avoid on a website:

  • Old content:  Don’t let your website stagnate. The search engines want fresh and relevant information to crawl. You don’t have to add new content to your site on a daily basis, but a regular addition of content by way of a blog is a great way of keeping things relevant and up to date. Visitors and potential visitors will skip over your site when content becomes old and out of date.
  • Don’t have too much of the wrong content and format it correctly:  We are always telling clients that content is king, but having too much of the wrong content, or having it formatted incorrectly can be even worse than not having enough content. The majority of visitors don’t want to read through long drawn out masses of information. It’s enough to bore them to tears!
  • Not enough graphics:  Using no pictures or other eye catching graphics makes any website rather dull and boring. Visitors to a website expect to see the text content mixed with pictures, logos, Flash graphics, sliders and icons.
  • Looking like a one man band from Rogue Traders:  An awful lot of people are very cautious when using a new ecommerce website, particularly if they have been the victim of internet fraud in the past. By employing good, relevant content, using a consistent colour scheme and employing a theme that remains the same through all the pages, are vital in making a website look legitimate and trustworthy.
  • Bland and boring design:  If you have spent a sizeable chunk of cash setting up your business, having leaflets and business cards printed while putting together a business plan, why waste your money on a boring looking website? Try to ensure your website gets your personality across.  Try to avoid colour schemes and a writing style that is boring. You have to grab your visitor’s attention and a bland and boring website will only have your visitors leaving in droves.

The information above is by no means exhaustive but hopefully it will be of use to anyone who is thinking of having a website to promote their business.

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I want something like eBay or Amazon, can you do this for £100? Really!

I’m sure that we are not alone when it comes to being asked to supply a potential client with a website that does the same as eBay or Amazon for the princely sum of £100. The other frequent request we get is for a website that the client can offer advertising space on, often followed up with the question of “how long will it take to make me a lot of money?”

The look of dismay and utter disbelief on their faces when you attempt to explain, that if it was that easy everyone would be doing it. We don’t want to destroy anybody’s dreams, but we do pride ourselves on being honest!

Our honest advice to such unrealistic goals is usually greeted with some disappointment, but then we go on to look at alternatives that are more achievable. This is the point when we know if the enquiry is likely to turn into a worthwhile project for our client. Should the client listen to our advice and have that spark of excitement or enthusiasm, or a genuine belief that they could take their idea and make it pay, we do our best to work it through with them. Sometimes they may say in an indignant tone, that “we have spoken to some other web design firms that claim this sort of thing is easily achieved, as it’s not exactly rocket science” and “to be honest, anyone can make a website”. OK then, if it’s that easy, why are you here?

Sure, with a little practice and maybe a degree of artistic flair, many people could make a fairly decent looking website, but will it deliver the goods?

Programming is the Secret

The typical website design company has no idea how to create an eBay or Amazon type of page or website, or even what they are. The ability to write HTML web pages is a very small part of what eBay does, they are programmers and database administrators. If you want to have your own eBay, Amazon or Google you need to be or have a programmer, it’s as simple as that!

The fact is eBay does not maintain millions of pages. It maintains millions of users and listings. The site manages the pages automatically. But how?  If you are used to making pages using a web page editor like FrontPage or Dream Weaver, you could well appreciate then that there is no way ebay.com can make millions of pages that way! Sites like eBay and Amazon are actually huge computer programs that know how to talk to web browsers on the front end and to an SQL database server on the back end. They may have only a few dozen hand edited pages?

SQL databases and computer programmers cost money, so you simply will not get all that service and functionality on a tiny budget. There is nothing wrong with thinking big but take your time and have your website built in manageable stages. After all, a good website is never really finished!

A professional website is like an iceberg

What you see on the browser is literally the tip of the iceberg. You can’t see the time the designer spent researching the search terms, how long the design took to generate in Photoshop, the cutting up and coding, creating the animation, adding meaningful links or coding in the content. There is also the setting up of email boxes, domain names, hosting packages and FTP for publishing the website. This and more can be achieved on some of the better DIY packages but you need to know what you’re doing. Search engine optimisation isn’t exactly a black art, but getting it right is vital if you want to drive as much traffic to your website as possible. Other considerations such as website accessibility are also important but this is a subject that many web designers don’t even know about, so what chance has the DIY website builder? So, the question is whether to use a professional design company or take the DIY route.

Considerations

There are many things to consider when setting up a website. Should you opt for a professional company, always take notice of referrals from people you know or look around the web to see what is out there. We have seen some pretty cool designs and when we have clicked through to the design company’s website, we have sometimes been amazed at the poor quality of the coding employed. Often, they have used website building packages and not hand coded their own designs.

Recently a chap came to us as the pictures on his website were encroaching into the space that was supposed to be for the text content. The first thing we noticed was that the text was in fact an image of the text, with no alt or title tags and therefore invisible to the search engines. He had repeatedly asked the design company to rectify this, but it turned out that the designer had a full time job in another trade and simply dabbled with web design in the evening, and you guessed it, he used an editing package that he was unable to fully understand.

In desperation, the website owner attempted to take over and finish the site himself, but ended up spending hundreds of hours going round in circles. His time commitment was costing him more money than it would have cost to employ the services of a reliable design company from the start.

Search the web and make a check list of what you should be asking for. Try to familiarise yourself with at least the basic principles of search engine optimisation and accessibility. This way, it will be harder for the more unscrupulous, pyjama wearing, back bedroom office designer to baffle you with a load of techno babble, so again, listen to those referrals.

Will I make millions from selling advertising space on my website!

In order to sell advertising space on your website, you need to prove to your potential clients that you have a website that has a huge number of visitors. Only then will it be worth their while in paying you to advertise their goods or services on your website in the first place. Remember, there are literally hundreds of these websites out there, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you can earn a mint by having a new website published and being flooded with requests from the world and his wife for advertising space.

So what should a website do?

A good website should promote your goods or services. It should be eye catching, easy to navigate and have meaningful content. The content should be well optimised with your target audience in mind and not be crammed full of flashy gizmos and gadgets. It should also tell the visitor what you do or sell in a matter of seconds.

Write your content like a journalist would write a newspaper article. Don’t write long drawn out essays that will have the visitor losing the will to live and leaving the page before they get to the information they wanted in the first place.

People tend to scan website content rather than read it word for word.  Journalists usually describe the structure of a news story as an inverted pyramid. The essential and most interesting elements of a story are put at the beginning, with supporting information following in order of diminishing importance.

This structure enables readers to stop reading at any point and still come away with the essence of a story. It allows people to explore a topic to only the depth that their curiosity takes them, and without the imposition of details that they could consider irrelevant, but still making that information available to more interested readers.

What now?

So if you want a website, remember, you need to learn to walk before you try and run. Don’t expect to have an all singing and dancing website that will make you a multi-millionaire within a fortnight, it simply will not happen!

Research your target audience and what they are searching for. Look at other websites and note the URL’s of ones that catch your eye, this will give you or a professional designer a fair indication of what kind of look you are after.

Don’t wait until you think your website is 100% complete before you have it published, get it up on the web and let those search engine spiders start to do their thing. Sure, you don’t want ‘under construction’ notices on the pages, but just a couple of paragraphs of meaningful content are enough to get you started. You can and should add to the content over time, keeping it up to date, relevant and fresh.

Look into the social media scene like Facebook, Twitter, Flikr and YouTube, to mention but a few. Ultimately remember, we live in an information driven society, so get blogging, posting and sharing and you will start driving your website up the rankings and your profits will follow suit.

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What is the UK Law for websites?

Does the law want a website owner to make their website accessible?

In a word, yes. If someone with a disability, such as a visual impairment, cannot access the information on your website then it could be seen as discrimination.

The Equality Act came into force in October 2010, replacing the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in England, Scotland and Wales.

Like the DDA, the Equality Act was introduced with the intention of tackling the discrimination which many disabled people face on a day to day basis.

An anticipatory Act!
The Equality Act is ‘anticipatory’, which means that as a website owner, you cannot wait until a disabled person wants to use your services. You must think in advance  about what disabled people with a range of impairments might reasonably need. The impairments are not limited to visual ones either, they include hearing loss, mobility and cognitive impairments also.For example, it may be unlawful for a website to:

  • have links on that are not accessible to a screen reader
  • have application forms for bank accounts or job application forms in a PDF format that cannot be read by a screen reader
  • have core service information such as timetables on a bus or train website that is not in a format accessible to screen readers.
  • use text, colour contrasting and formatting that make the website inaccessible to a partially sighted service user
  • change security procedures without considering the impact of blind and partially sighted customers that use screen readers.

What level of compliance should the website owner be aiming for?

WAlthough there is no case law guidance currently in the United Kingdom, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) are currently suing BMI Baby over its failure to deal with the poor accessibility of its website.

Like any law, case law can only provide broad guidance about what websites have to to comply and this may vary from website to website.

The RNIB recommend that websites exceed the basic level of compliance that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommend in their Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 1.0 and aim for Double AA compliance. If you are a UK government website you should be aiming to achieve Double AA.

Disclaimer

This content is not an authoritative statement of the law and the information is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Whilst AFM have made every effort to ensure that the information we have provided is correct, we cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions.

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Website Accessibility

Should all websites be accessible?

The Equality Act states that service providers must not discriminate against disabled people. A website is regarded as a service and therefore falls under this law, and as such must be made accessible to everyone.

Some organisations are making accessibility improvements to their websites, but many are not making the accessibility adjustments. Disabled people don’t access their website, they say, so why should they worry about accessibility?

There are, however, two very good reasons as to why businesses should start taking these issues very seriously:

  • An accessible website will make you more money
  • An accessible website will save you money

Below are some explanations for this:

1. Your website will be easier to manage

An accessible website separates the content (the words and images that we see on the screen) and presentation (the way that these words and images are laid out) of each page. Each web page has an HTML document that contains the words and images for that page, and calls up a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) document that includes the presentation information. The CSS document is shared by all the pages on the website.

To adjust the layout of your website, you only have to make changes in the CSS file. This saves you a lot of time and therefore money. If you want to make small, more specific adjustments, you can add local style tags as and when required.

2. Your website will be compatible with new browsing technologies

In the near future, the use of PDA’s, mobile phones and in-car browsers will all regularly be used to access the Internet. The people making use of these new technologies are generally high-income people. In order to reach this lucrative target, you’ll need a website that is accessible to these machines. To test your website, try using it with the Opera mini simulator, which shows how your site will look on a mobile phone.

3. Your website will appear higher in the search engines

By making your website more accessible to web users, you’re also making it more accessible to the search engines. Search engines cannot ‘see’ images, JavaScript, Flash, audio and video content. By providing alternative content to each of these, all areas of your website will be accessible to the search engines, who’ll then be able to have a better understanding of its purpose.

The more confident a search engine is of your website’s purpose, all other things being equal, the higher it’ll place your website in the search rankings.

4. You won’t have to incur legal fees

The RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and the DRC (Disability Rights Commission) have been exerting pressure on companies and the government to make their websites accessible. Indeed, the DRC has now published their findings from their accessibility investigation of 1000 websites. They’ve warned firms that they’ll face legal action and the threat of unlimited compensation payments if they fail to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.

5. The download time of your website will be significantly improved

Accessible websites generally download quicker than websites with poor accessibility. Just 25% of web users in the UK are connected to the Internet via broadban. You can be sure that if your website takes much longer than ten seconds to download then many of your site visitors will be clicking away and you’ll lose them.

6. The usability of your website will be enhanced

There is a certain amount of overlap between web accessibility and web usability. It’s been shown that a usability redesign will increase the sales and conversion rate of a website by up to 100%.

7. You’ll gain good publicity

Make your website accessible to everyone and more and more people will get to know about it.

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