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Welcome to The Stream: Allison+Partners’ content hub that features the latest news and trends making the biggest waves in media and marketing.

OCTOBER 17, 2017 //     

Web Design and Your Business: The Benefits of ADA Compliance

Image: Wedgie MediaBy: Patrick Dean Hodgson

Boot up, launch your browser and pull up your favorite website. Now, close your eyes and have someone cover your ears. Try to navigate and go to your favorite hot spots on that website. This is the obstacle millions of Americans with disabilities face every day.

A good corporate website isn't all about appearance and content. Ensuring accessibility is as important as providing visitors with solid information. According to the United States Census Bureau, 56.7 million Americans have a disability. That figure makes up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population. Now think about if one in every five customers can’t use your website. How much revenue might you lose? That’s why it’s critical to understand how beneficial ADA compliance can be to help these Americans and for the future of any company.


What's ADA compliance and why is It so important?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 2010 sets the standards for accessible design. Implemented by the Department of Justice, it states how all commercial and public websites should be built to remain easy to use for everyone.

While there are a lot of guidelines governing ADA websites, you should be aware of Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). Both documents carry much of the same rules, however WCAG is more extensive.

A few best practices you can easily use to combat common ADA violations:

  • Add text to images and videos. Many sites are guilty of not using text to identify pictures. Not only is it harmful for search engine optimization (SEO), but it also creates a challenge for blind customers. For example, a sports apparel website may have a picture of LeBron James. The blind person should be able to use a screen reader on the image and hear “photo of LeBron James.” If your customer is deaf, text captions and descriptions on your videos are effective tactics.
  • Avoid PDF files. PDF and other similar files are problematic for the visually impaired too. Unlike images, these types of formats usually can’t be read by screen readers.
  • Adjust colors and font sizes. When designers and developers build websites, high contrast colors are often an afterthought because of brand guidelines or overzealous creativeness. This is one of the great missteps by web teams because most people with vision issues rely heavily on high contrast settings.

While listing all the guidelines is beyond the scope of this article, here's why building an ADA-compliant website should be a top priority.

  • You'll increase your organic reach, drawing more people to your pages: For the disabled, choosing which sites to visit often isn't a choice at all. Achieving total ADA compliance means everyone will feel comfortable browsing your pages. In turn, that leads to more engagement from a broader range of people, resulting in more social media shares, mentions and an overall increase in brand awareness. 
  • You'll rank better in searches, beating out competitors: While search engines won't check whether a website respects ADA, Google and its peers do care about the number of hits each URL receives. Since building an ADA-compliant website attracts more visitors, it in turn increases your ranking. More pageviews and longer sessions show how relevant your space is, taking it straight to the top of Google search results.
  • You'll bolster your reputation as a socially responsible organization: Today, disabilities and their effects are no longer just medical issues. Throughout the world, hundreds of organizations fight to defend the rights of those suffering from disabilities. When you dedicate time and effort to create an ADA-compliant website, you make a statement about your company’s social engagement depth, which can drive real business results.

Even though a significant number of Americans have trouble accessing the web, most websites fail at ADA compliance. This is risky for businesses, since the Department of Justice is planning on enforcing these rules on websites in 2018. The time to become ADA compliant is now.

Patrick Hodgson is digital director at Allison+Partners. 

OCTOBER 16, 2017 //     

Facebook Just Bought Top Teen App TBH. Here's What You Need to Know

Image: tbh

If you've never heard of the app TBH that's fine, but to be honest, it's something you're going to hear about a lot more: Facebook just acquired it Monday for an undisclosed amount.

In short, TBH (which stands for, you guessed it, "to be honest") is an anonymized polling app with a positive bent that allows people to share how they feel about friends.

OCTOBER 16, 2017 //     

How Brands Are Using AR to Engage Consumers and Measure Results

IkeaIn the span of a few seconds, Patrón’s new augmented reality app creates a miniature hacienda on iPhones that replicates the distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, where the brand’s tequila is made—complete with a virtual bartender and a tiny agave field. At first glance, The Patrón Experience—one of many branded apps built using Apple’s recently launched ARKit platform—may seem like a gimmick, but Patrón has bigger plans for its latest mobile innovation. The spirits company wants to eventually turn augmented reality into an ecommerce platform of sorts by selling tequila through platforms like Amazon and alcohol-delivery site ReserveBar. READ MORE
OCTOBER 16, 2017 //     

What these 6 brand campaigns say about the state of marketing

Digital, unsurprisingly, dominated brand campaigns in Q3 2017, but the most popular efforts added an extra pop in key areas that have emerged as trends to watch this year: Better tying together real-world and social media channels and catering to the ever-shorter attention spans of consumers whether through extra-short video ads or quick-hit visual formats like GIFs. READ MORE
OCTOBER 16, 2017 //     

McDonald's wants you to stop looking at your phone and start talking to each other


When was the last time you had a meal with someone without spending time texting someone else?

McDonald's has introduced mobile phone lockers, in a bid to get customers to put their phones away, and start talking to each other again. 

OCTOBER 15, 2017 //     

Infographic: What Millennials Value Most in Their Lives, Careers and Personal Tech

Image: iStock photoA simple choice between A and B can say a lot about a person—or, in the case of 9GAG’s just-released Millennial Black Paper, an entire generation. In April, the cross-platform entertainment network, which counts 150 million users around the globe, teamed up with research firm GfK to create a simple “would you rather” questionnaire meant to determine what millennials (defined as ages 18-34) value in their lives, careers, politics, technology and more. READ MORE
OCTOBER 13, 2017 //     

Why shoe retailer DSW is turning influencer content into ads

DSW is on a mission to standardize its influencer marketing strategy while making it a larger part of its digital marketing budget.

The shoe retailer has shifted to thinking of influencers as an extension of its store associates. It is now moving away from traditional influencer payment models with upfront fees or cost per engagement and experimenting with new incentives for influencers. The other big part of its strategy is more of a focus on “nano-influencers,” which have followings of under 80,000 — smaller than those of micro-influencers.

OCTOBER 12, 2017 //     

How fashion and beauty brands are using AI to drive mobile purchases

It’s become a common tale in e-commerce: Executives at retailers are discovering that traffic patterns don’t match revenue.

It’s what happened at DvF.com. “Mobile is at least 50 percent of our traffic, but not our revenue. To be honest, we all kind of gave up on fixing that,” said Felipe Araujo, the head of e-commerce at Diane von Furstenberg.

That was until a major rebrand last year, following the departure of Diane von Furstenberg as the creative director of her eponymous brand, when the DvF team overhauled its e-commerce site. With a new logo and designer, Jonathan Saunders, the brand needed a smarter online shopping experience to bolster the reboot. With a new site, Araujo prioritized improving product discovery and navigation on mobile, in order to turn that traffic into sales.

OCTOBER 11, 2017 //     

Snapchat Is Twice as Popular as Instagram When It Comes to Teens’ Favorite Social Apps

Getty Images

Instagram may be encroaching on Snapchat’s territory when it comes to features and users, but Snapchat remains teens’ go-to app for social media, according to Piper Jaffray’s latest report.

The investment firm’s annual “Taking Stock With Teens” report includes responses from 6,100 people across 44 states and asked teens about their social media usage over the past month. Forty-seven percent of teens said Snapchat is their favorite app, up from 35 percent a year ago, while only 24 percent picked Instagram. Nine percent of teens said Facebook is their favorite social app, 7 percent chose Twitter and 1 percent said Pinterest is their favorite.

OCTOBER 11, 2017 //     

How Allbirds uses Instagram as a focus group

Most brands look at social platforms like Instagram to push out product messages, but Allbirds is using Instagram for product ideas and customer feedback.

Since debuting its first style 19 months ago, Allbirds has made 27 product improvements to its $95 all-wool knit runners and loafers, which it markets as “the world’s most comfortable shoes,” and has changed content strategies based on its followers’ reactions, according to Julie Channing, vp of marketing at Allbirds. The brand was highlighted in Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2017 report as being one of the most responsive brands, with a slide showing all the product changes from customer input that went into one shoe.
OCTOBER 11, 2017 //     

SunTrust's LightStream plants pop-up forest in Times Square

SunTrust Bank's online lending division LightStream will install a miniature pop-up forest in New York City's Times Square for an out-of-home push on Oct. 18, according to a press release.

The lender has planted a tree for every loan it's issued since launching in 2013, and the "Forest of Dreams" activation will symbolize the 1,000 acres of trees it's so far planted across the U.S. as part of that project. LightStream will plant a tree for the first 10,000 people who participate in the experience, with a portion of donations going to hurricane-ravaged cities like Houston and Miami. READ MORE

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