Updates from May, 2009 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Squawk 4:22 pm on 07/05/2009 Permalink | Reply
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    Making twitter accessible 

    Dennis Lembree at Accessible Twitter has made an awresome application that makes twitter accessible (cos it’s not). Fantastic application even if in Alpha stage. Dennis Lembree has done some great accessibilty work over the years and things like Accessible Twitter are great and need to be supported.

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  • Squawk 2:53 pm on 07/05/2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Why oh why – still …….. 

    We hand code web sites to W3C standards, every page we create is validated against the standards for HTML, XHTML and CSS, to us it is the backbone of our business.  These standards exist to assist everybody from the web designer, developer to the user.  As I have said before, good validated code will help with both SEO and will give greater access to a web sites information to those users who have some form of disadvatage, whether physical or technological.

    Yes accessibility applies to technology aswell.

    Last December the W3C published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0  these differ from the previous set of recommendations (1.0) for Web Content Accessibility in that they (2.0) are now results based.  In the past the 1.0 guidelines were vague and many recommendations could not actually be tested against a result.

    No we can test against results for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 it should become easier for people to design and develop web sites.

    But why is it that so many designers and developers still totally ignore any of these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

    The lifeline of most designers and developers is the work they get from businesses i.e. B2B (business to business).  We see work from many designers worldwide and the majority of them do not appear to actually have any knowledge of WCAG.

    If you think that most countries have some form of accessibility legislation that relates to the internet and business web sites you would have thought that these designers might actually be aware of WCAG – maybe even promote it.

    Take the USA it is thought that the main legislation for this is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.   But the scope of Section 508 is limited to the Federal sector and does not apply to the private sector.  However if a business is in receipt of Federal funds the relevant contract may (not necessarily) requre 508 complience.

    Currently there is no ‘firm’ opinion of accessibility legislation but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, is a civil rights legislation governed by the Department of Justice.   This law is to make sure that people with disabilities can have an equal opportunity to participate in programs, services, and activities.

    While the ADA does not deal directly with the accessibility of the Internet.  There it contains two major sections that may apply to Web accessibility. These are:

    • Title II, which states that communications with persons with disabilities must be “as effective as communications with others” [28 C.F.R. ss 35.160 (a)] and
    • Title III, which deals with public accommodation of people with disabilities.

    Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 covers public accommodations and commercial facilities.  A public accommodation are the goods or services provided to the public by any business. There are no limitations on the types of services or goods provided.

    Under §36.303 a public accommodation shall take those steps that may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that taking those steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations being offered or would result in an undue burden, i.e., significant difficulty or expense.

    Whilst the ADA legal position is unclear – there have been numerous legal cases and opinions – one thing is definite if you do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act you are placing your business in a situation where you could be sued for denial of services or privileges.

    It seems to me that when a business considers a new website or a website redesign they should check on the accessibility credentials of the designer/developers they approach.  Would you place your business in a position where you may be breaking the law?  In the event of any legal action who will it involve? the designer/developer or the site owner.

    It is the responsibility of business owners to ensure they comply with the law, yet most forget that this ‘new fangled internet thing and new web site’  actually is part of the business and subject to the law.

    As I said, a public accommodation are the goods or services provided to the public by any business.  That includes web designers and developers.

    Now that we have the results based Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 it is easy to map these results against ‘legislation’ such as Section 508.

     
  • Squawk 7:26 am on 07/05/2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Changing geographics in Google 

    Generally, search engines like Google and Yahoo associate domains with a geographic target based on:

    • Domain name extension. Examples: .com is neutral, .co.uk is UK and .dk is Denmark.
    • IP Address of webhost server and IP Address of DNS nameservers.
    • Language used in pages found throughout the domain. <html lang=”en”>.
    • From which countries and domains backlinks are coming from.
    When users enter search queries into search engine like Google and Yahoo, the IP address of the user is taken into account when providing search results. The idea is the search results become more relevant and targeted to the user.
    This is great, but we have recently changed my geographic from UK to USA as most of our work comes from there – guess it is beceause when we work it is night in the US so most work can be completed overnight – however I have noticed a considerable change in our Google rankings.  When targeting the UK we were constantly on the Google frontpage for most of our targeted keywords/phrases.  Now we seem to have dropped about 6 or 7 pages.  Ouch…..
    We will make that back up again but it does go  to show that changing your target market can affect your rankings.
    Will keep you all posted on how we progress
     
  • Squawk 6:59 am on 07/05/2009 Permalink | Reply
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    A thought on SEO 

    Having suggested why you might need SEO – again optimisation for the Brits out there and not optimization – a thought occured to me at about 5.00 this morning. OK I don’t claim ‘ownership’ as an original thought in SEO terms but .. I haven’t yet seen this as an example on other SEO pages, so try it out – and let me know if I may have an original!

    In business we all have customers, simply put external and internal. If you haven’t heard that before here is an explanation:

    Internal ‘customers’ are the people in your company or perhaps a partner / company that you provide your services too in order to deliver your company’s products or services.

    while

    External customers are those people that actually buy your company’s products or services.

    So – how does that relate to my web site and SEO

    Quite simple – if I use the fruit and veg shop analogy again. Now you have a web site you are ’selling’ another product – your web site and the information it contains. Just a little different from selling apples and pears, but the principle is still the same – a product is a product.

    OK, so now we have to deal with that new product.

    Dealing with the old ones is now virtually second nature. Someone comes into your shop and buys a product (hopefully more), pays for them and with good customer service comes back and becomes a regular customer.

    But who is the customer for this new product? Firstly it’s the search engines, and then the people who visit your web site from them. A search engine has become your customer – the product they want from you is information.

    Yes, a search engine is an external customer of yours and like all customers requires customer care. The only difference is that in ‘internet jargon’ the customer care a search engine needs is called Search Engine Optimisation (optimization for those who want to relace s with z).

    Not convinced? Try treating your customers badly, see how many come back, how quickly your turnover falls.

    No the search engines do not pay you money for your new product – well at least not directly, but indirectly …….. every visitor to your web site could be a physical customer who may spend money with you.

    SEO is good customer care for search engines. Treat them well and they will treat you well.

     
  • Squawk 6:46 am on 07/05/2009 Permalink | Reply  

    I keep being asked about SEO – do I need it and what is it? 

    SEO – search engine optimisation – sorry we are British so out goes ‘optimimization’ – is the active practice of making a web site friendly to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.

    Is it worth it?

    Candidly – yes.

    There are over 20 Billion web pages out there – as of March 2008 there were over 100.1 million websites. Of these 74% were commercial or other sites operating in the .com generic top-level domain. – and so far it is estimated that the search engines have indexed just under half of them – so there is a long way to go – it’s also a very large number so remember that. Think how difficult it is now to drive traffic to your web site, now imagine how much more difficult it is going to be when (and if) all web pages and web sites are indexed*.

    The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines – Yahoo!, MSN, Google & AskJeeves (although AOL gets nearly 10% of searches, their engine is powered by Google’s results). If your site cannot be found by search engines or your content cannot be put into their databases, you miss out on the incredible opportunities available to websites provided via the search engines. That is people who want what you have visiting your site.

    Whether your site provides content, services, products or information, the search engines are the main way of getting visitors to your site.

    Why do I need to carry out SEO?

    If you accept that the “Googles” of the world are responsible for getting visitors to a web site you have to understand that they (the companies behind search engines) are businesses themselves.

    At all times every business is looking for that competitive edge, the one thing that makes them different from their competitors. No doubt you are trying that in your business right now, even if you don’t think of it in that way.

    In business you know what who your competitors are and what they are doing. You are always trying to be better, have that one thing that makes you different. That thing could be as “simple” as a fruit and veg shop having a better shop window display than their competitors. – no offence to fruit and veg shops their business is not simple and certainly their window dressing is not simple.

    Think of the imapct that Google made when it started. It displayed your search results in a simple and easy way. Now every other Search Engine is trying to out do Google. Since it’s launch in 1998 – (yes Google is only 11 years old yet it seems to have been with us as long as computers have existed) – Google has grown from a garage based operation to one that today handles over 50% of all internet searches and over 73% of internet searches in the USA.

    So – do I need SEO?

    Search engines are always working towards improving their technology to crawl* the web more deeply and return increasingly relevant results to users – potentially your customers.

    This means they are always looking for ways to improve their business – just like you. Their business is making ‘results’ available to thier customers in the easiest way.

    SEO is really about making sure that the search engines can easilly deliver their product – your information – to their users.

    As I pointed out earlier the online environment is becoming increasingly competitive. As time goes on those companies who perform SEO will have a decided advantage in visitors and customers.

    — Footnotes —

    *Search engines run automated programs, called “bots” or “spiders” that use the hyperlink structure of the web to “crawl” the pages and documents that make up the World Wide Web.

    Once a page has been crawled, it’s contents can be “indexed” – stored in a giant database of documents that makes up a search engine’s “index”. These indexes are highly managed, so that when you type in a search request thay can sort through billions of documents in fractions of a second and provide you with a result.

     
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