Is your small business website ADA-compliant and why else you might be sued.

Elements depicting a smalll business legal issue

When you started your business, you filled out the requisite paperwork (type of business, tax forms, etc), and opened accounts (bank, credit cards, shipping, etc.).

You followed the rules for setting everything up.

But did you think about whether or not your website was ADA-compliant?  Was it accessible for people with disabilities who wouldn’t be able to view your site or hear any audio?

For many small business owners, the answer is no. Because those laws either weren’t in effect or weren’t enforced.

Times have changed. So have the laws. And with it, the odds of being sued.

What is your small business at risk for?

Probably lots of things, but today we’re just talking about websites.

You may not think about the possibility of being sued until it happens. And then you’ve got a mess on your hands and legal fees.

Is your website accessible?

The Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA) was made a public law in 1990 and amended in 2008.

Handicapped man in wheelchair sitting at deskIs it required to be on your website? Interestingly enough, no. But you can still be sued. And digital lawsuits are on the rise.

Best practices say that you should have an accessibility statement on your private business website AND an accessibility tool in place.

An Accessible Website Says “We Care”

An accessibility statement says to the public that you give a damn about inclusivity. You want people with disabilities to be able to get the same information any other visitor can get on your site.

Good for Business

Including an accessibility statement is also good for business. 20% of the population has a disability. If they can’t access information on your website, they can’t purchase your products or services.

We are now offering accessibility protection for ADA-compliance.

Contact us today to learn how to make your website accessible.

Learn more about accessibility in this thorough and informative article in Search Engine Journal by author Kim  Berg who writes: “Even though there are accessibility standards and guidelines to follow for websites and web applications, in the U.S. there are no formal laws to enforce them.”

What other issues keep small business owners up at night?

We thought it would be fun to compare responses written by humans with something generated with AI.

We googled “What keeps small business owners awake at night in 2023?” and found this from customer service success firm, SmartKarrot.

    1. Lack of employee engagement
    2. Losing key skilled people and trust issues
    3. Building a community
    4. Diversity and social pressure
    5. Facing big changes

Then we asked the same question of Bard, Google’s new AI platform which they describe as “a complementary experience to Google Search”, and we got this:

Here are the top 5 things that keep small business owners up at night:

    1. Making money.
      This is the number one concern for small business owners, and for good reason. After all, without money, you can’t pay your bills, your employees, or yourself. There are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of making money, such as:
      • Conducting market research to identify your target market and what they need:
      • Developing a strong marketing plan to reach your target market
      • Offering competitive prices and high-quality products or services
      • Providing excellent customer service


2. Attracting and retaining customers.

Once you’ve got customers, you need to keep them coming back. This can be a challenge, especially in a competitive marketplace.

There are a number of things you can do to attract and retain customers, such as:

      • Offering loyalty programs
      • Providing excellent customer service
      • Keeping your products or services fresh and innovative
      • Building relationships with your customers

3. Managing cash flow.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. If you don’t have enough cash coming in to cover your expenses, your business will eventually fail.

There are a number of things you can do to manage your cash flow, such as:

      • Create a budget and track your expenses
      • Set up a system for collecting payments from customers
      • Get a line of credit or other financing

4.  Dealing with taxes.

Taxes can be a complex and time-consuming hassle for small business owners. There are a number of things you can do to make tax time easier, such as:

      • Hiring a qualified accountant
      • Keeping good records
      • Filing your taxes on time

5.  Juggling responsibilities.

Small business owners often wear many hats. They may be responsible for marketing, sales, customer service, accounting, and more. This can be a lot of work, and it can be difficult to balance all of your responsibilities.

There are a number of things you can do to make it easier to juggle your responsibilities, such as:

      • Delegating tasks to employees or contractors
      • Learning to say no to new commitments
      • Taking breaks when you need them

AI Search Summary  

The results were interesting. They were focused on different factors. And neither mentioned work-life balance in the top five.

The customer service success firm listed issues with employee engagement, an inability to retain skilled workers and trust issues as the top two concerns.

Bard cited making money and attracting and retaining customers as the two most important.

We interpret this as pretty logical. 

But we found Bard’s use of the line “There are a number of things you can do to” in each numbered item annoying repetitive.

A company that helps people grow their businesses will focus on employee-related issues and procedures. Because that’s what they do.

Bard, on the other hand, has nothing to gain from its response. Making money and retaining customers is definitely top of mind for most small business owners.

How to interpret these results. 

If we were writing an article on what keeps small business owners up at night, much more research would be required. We’d also want to interview small business owners who are in the trenches every day.

Which is why at the moment, we’re seeing AI (and Bard) as great basic research tools that can save us time.  And what’s wrong with that! 

Read related articles:

5 traits that successful businesses use to engage customers

Understanding Customer Care

 

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Why you need to have a monitoring program set up for your website.

screens showing website monitoring graphs

After your WordPress website goes live, you may think the website work is finished. Not so.

WordPress is the most popular content management platform in use today and is constantly evolving. With its popularity comes security risks. This means that the core version of WordPress is constantly being updated as well as the plugins that are used to develop a site.

It’s important to regularly update these since many of them are security safety fixes. Think hackers getting into the back end of your website.

However, updating plugins can sometimes cause conflicts…. which might cause downtime.

When to update plugins.

We recommend waiting a little while to update plugins because bugs can cause your site to go down. If you wait a few days, the plugin creator should have ample time to fix any unexpected issues that arise.

Ongoing WordPress website monitoring is important to make sure that when plugins are updated they won’t cause your website to go down. And if it does, it can be fixed quickly.

It’s also important to monitor website uptime in case something happens with the web host.

Occasionally, we’ve had instances where either the hosting or SSL certificate was not renewed because the credit card on file had either expired or the account number had changed.

Unless someone is monitoring your site, this can go unnoticed. Which means you may be losing business!

These are only a few reasons we include six months of website monitoring and maintenance for all websites we build. After that, our clients can purchase ongoing monitoring for a very reasonable fee ….which most of them do.

It’s a small price to pay for knowing your online store or business is always open.

if your website is dated and no longer filling your business needs, we’re happy to chat. The start of a new year is the perfect time for a website revamp.

Read more about keeping your business functional and secure.

 

 

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Is your website ready (and healthy enough) for Google’s algorithm update?

a stethoscope laying on a laptop keyboard

Earth Day is April 22nd. Yes, we relegate one day to focus on keeping our planet healthy.

Anyone else think this deserves an ongoing commitment? Or at least a month?

Here’s a link to Earth Day Live which runs from April 20 -22nd. Learn about some events you can participate in and get involved.

But we digress…..back to your website.

What Makes A Healthy Website?

A healthy website performs well. It doesn’t just look good.

It works well. It loads fast. Fonts are legible. You don’t have to squint to read the copy. Papers and pdfs download quickly. Finding information is easy and intuitive.

Links work….both external and internal. And the site is responsive. It looks good on any size screen — mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop. It’s also secure and uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). More about that here.   

The health of your website should never be negotiable. A healthy well-run business has healthy procedures in place. And that includes your website, your face to the world.

Here are 6 things you can do right now to make sure your website is indeed healthy.    

  1. Don’t fall behind.
    Make sure that platform updates and plugins are up-to-date. Staying current is important to keep your site functioning properly and securely. New releases generally take care of any pesky issues that developers have found since the last update.
    Note:  we manage and monitor all client websites and send monthly reports. Your web team should handle this for you. If not, find one that will.
  2. Get rid of old plugins.
    A bloated website doesn’t perform well. Outdated or no longer used plugins can slow down your site. We once inherited  one with 62 plugins, most of which were not being used. The site was super slow to load, something you do not want.
  3.  Fix sluggish load speeds.
    According to Google, people will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. Don’t be a Google fail. Here are 20 free tools to test your website’s speed.
  4. Make sure you’ve addressed any ADA (American Disability Act) issues. Google will punish you if your site isn’t accessible for people with sight or hearing disabilities. Learn what you need to do in this Business News Daily article titled Is Your Website ADA Compliant?
  5. Update content.
    If your copy hasn’t been updated in a while, it probably needs a refresh. If you cite a lot of statistics or references, they’re probably dated. Maybe you’ve added new products or services that never made it onto the site (yes, we’ve seen that)!
    Ideally you update your site on a weekly or monthly basis. But we know that sometimes stuff gets in the way. So do it now.
  6.  Make sure your website is easy for visitors to navigate.
    A healthy website allows people to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. Referred to as UX (user experience), ideally this is a factor that was built into your website in the design phase. But if you have a do-it-yourself site, it’s likely that navigational ease is not a feature.

Why NOW is the time to make sure your website is healthy.

Google has a new and highly anticipated algorithm launching in May of this year. It will include something called Page Experience which addresses what we’ve talked about above. If you have a business website, you need to know about it.

Search Engine Watch explains it clearly in this post titled Google Page Experience update is all set to launch in May 2021 – Webmasters, hang in there!

Hopefully, we’ve given you some tips you can use to make sure your website is healthy and working efficiently. So you won’t be blindsided when May comes around.

As always, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have. Shoot us an email info@whatagreatwebsite.net and we’ll help you out.

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