Kamis, 30 April 2009

What makes an accessible website?

There is a lot of confusion regarding web sites that are 'accessible'. Many people automatically assume that it has something to do with disabled people and they'd be partly right. With approximately 8.5 million disabled users of the internet in the UK it is a very valid point (more about that later) but it's not the full story. It's more a story of acceptable standards.

It comes down to this:

Standards + Compliance = Accessibility

The mad gold rush

Imagine it is the early nineties and the Internet is beginning to take off. Who exactly is writing the script of how it works? And more importantly, who is reading? Web pages were being created in HTML, (Hypertext Transfer Markup Langauge).

This meant that if you wrote some code in a certain way you had a page in a certain format that anyone with access to the Internet could read. Gold Rush!

Now, there were some very skilled practitioners of this, but then again, there were also some cowboys.

We started to Bodge it

I say we, I know I did (in the bad old days before I saw the light). New software came out that meant we could create web pages without having to code. It was great… wasn't it?

Well not really, because we ended up with lots of websites that exploited the way browsers displayed web pages. We used tables to cheat layouts; we used frames to make use of slow download speeds.

Another important point to mention is that the browsers, although similar, had (and continue to have) slight nuances between each other that displayed web pages slightly differently.

Yes, we ignored the user because it was easier for us to build web pages that way. You can excuse everyone for that, but not anymore.

Let me ask you a question!

You are using a word processor and you are creating a document that also includes a list, do you:

  • Assign style sheets to all the subheadings or just make them bold and slightly bigger?
  • Tab your list items across, or put in lots of spaces?

This is a very basic example of what standards are.

W3C and WAI

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the guardian of the internet:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. W3C is a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective understanding.

Hooray, a set of standards! Not only that but they introduced the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.

Rules and Guidelines

So now we had a set of standards. If only we could enforce them then the whole world could live happily ever after: People with disabilities would be able to access the entire web and the Internet could transform into something so much more.

Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995

Discrimination against disabled people is not just an ethical issue, it is now law and that includes your web site.

  • 19. - (1) It is unlawful for a provider of services to discriminate against a disabled person-
    • (a) in refusing to provide, or deliberately not providing, to the disabled person any service which he provides, or is prepared to provide, to members of the public;

The relevant text can be read on the OPSI web site.

Is Having An Accessible web site important?

Easy answer - yes.

There are cases of large organisations being taking to court for not having an accessible web site and being seen to be discriminating. Although these are rare at the moment, the profile of these cases mean that large companies are taking note. Late 2005, for instance, saw a lot of the banks relaunch new accessible web sites.


Creating a web site to be accessible is not hard and neither is it some kind of voodoo. You shouldn't see it as big brother telling you what to do, you should embrace the standards. It actually makes great business sense. As a web design agency, we can honestly prove the following major advantages:

  • Accessible Web Sites get better traffic because the search engines can easily find the content (as long as it's good content).
  • Accessible web site design is cheaper in the long-run. Accessible web sites are easier to maintain and update, adding pages and sections.

Other Advantages

If that doesn't convince you that your business does need an accessible web site, perhaps this will.

An accessible web site opens your business up to the web. It is the standard. Imagine suddenly speaking the same language as everyone else, including search engines. They start wanting to talk back - as long as you have something worthwhile to talk about, of course.

Is your Web Site Accessible?

The best place to start is by going to the W3C Validation Markup Service and validating your web site. If the page turns red perhaps the second step is one of the below.

Source http://www.the-escape.co.uk

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Rabu, 29 April 2009

How to Build Rapport With Your Bank Manager

If you are looking for a Bank to support your new business or help expand your existing business then it�s very likely that you have had to deal with a Bank Manager. Depending on how well the Manager knows you very often you will have to attend an interview.

Everything you do and say in the interview will have a bearing on whether you are assessed as a good or bad risk. Building rapport between you and the Manager is part of this process.

Let�s look at just some of the tools you can use to build rapport with your Manager.

Speak With Confidence

There's no getting away from it, human nature is such that we naturally feel more comfortable with people who are confident and can express their ideas and thoughts with conviction. Your voice has to convey your inner strength. It has to say to the listener, "I'm going to make a success of this business" or "I know that the additional money I'm asking for will help me increase sales turnover by 100%".

Your voice is an expression of the strong belief you have in yourself. People are drawn to those who are confident. Portraying confidence will help create rapport.

Make Plenty of Eye Contact

Stare him straight in the eyes when you want to put across a particularly powerful point; this demonstrates confidence. Avoiding eye contact gives the impression you are so uncomfortable with what you're saying that you can't look him in the eye. Your discomfort could give the Manager the feeling that you either lack confidence or are lying.

Not looking him the eye, especially during crucial statements, will lead to him asking himself questions such as, "He's trying to hide something. What is it?"; " He doesn't seem very comfortable with what he just said. Has he got a problem with that area?"

Your eyes can give away so much about your thoughts. Make sure they say you are confident, not afraid of the task ahead and worthy of support.


A miserable person is not going to endear themselves to anyone. It's a fact that we gravitate to people who are happy and smiling. They appear to be having a ball in life and we want to be part of it! If you walked into a department store and you had the choice of two assistants, one who was smiling and welcoming and one who was down-in-the-mouth, who would you choose to go to?

A smile has the power to melt away any opposition or ill feeling. It's another aspect of our body language, which shouts out confidence and helps builds rapport

Watch His Body Language

You will be able to gauge his initial reactions by observing his body language and reacting to that. If you learn to read body language then misunderstandings can be rectified early on and you'll get an important insight into what the other person is thinking.

Here are some of the things to look out for:

  • If you see him leaning back in his chair, it's almost as if he's trying to get as far away from you as possible. The hidden meaning could be that he's trying to distance himself from what you are proposing; in other words he doesn't like your idea. If you see this, you need to immediately find out what is on his mind, so ask a question. Ask if he has any comments on what you've said so far and this will give you the chance to get him back on your side. If he has misunderstood something which has led him to switching off, then it's important you clarify the problem, correct it and move on

  • If he has started supporting his head with his hands, it may be that he has lost interest in what you're saying. If you see this "loss-of-interest" signal, again ask a question such as "Do you have any queries so far?" Asking questions of someone who looks bored or left out, brings them back into the conversation and again gives you an opportunity to check their understanding of what you have covered

  • The opposite of the "bored pose", is where he starts leaning towards you. This may indicate a high level of interest in what you have to say and shows you that you're on the right track. Spotting this will help improve your confidence even further

  • Crossed arms and legs may indicate a negative feeling towards your proposal. Again, ask questions to uncover what the problem or concern is, so you can clear up any misunderstandings

  • If he is maintaining a very "open" position i.e. arms apart, nodding in agreement, he is indicating that he's keen to know more about your project and so giving you the green light to carry on with your presentation

If you see evidence of negative body language, ask questions to get him to express his feelings or thoughts. Such questions would be: "What do you think about what I've covered so far?"; "From what you've heard so far, what are your impressions?"; "Have I made myself clear?"

Learn To Use Success-Based Words

As a successful or potentially successful businessman, you do not want to be using the same dull words as the general masses. In line with your strong belief and confident talking style, you need to use words, which propel you above the average person and backup the belief you have in your success.

Your words have to shout out that here is a successful person who knows what he wants! The words you use have to convey your enthusiasm and energy - these are success-based words - all of which is necessary to run a successful business. Success-based words are �can do�, �will do� phrases. Changing your vocabulary to a "success-based" one will take some practice and constant vigilance on your part.

Try and think of the words you use on a daily basis. Do they convey what you really want to say? Are they non success-based or success-based? Can you change them to ones that are?

When you use success-based words, remember what we said about the use of emphasis. Success-based words are the ideal ones to emphasis. Properly emphasised they do convey power, success, confidence and a strong belief.

We have looked at some of the tools you can use to help build rapport with your Bank Manager. All of them will help you get ahead of the game, so study them and practice their use.

Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

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Senin, 27 April 2009

A busy person’s guide to the rules on e-mail marketing


Are you an e-Marketer? Got two minutes? Want a quick refresher?

“Yes, I know the e-mail marketing rules,” I hear you say. “I mean, I think I know them... well I definitely used to anyway.”

If this sounds familiar, you may not be alone.

A recent on-line survey conducted by The Escape Design Agency in Basingstoke, revealed that almost a third of respondents are unclear what their obligations are when conducting e-mail marketing campaigns. Legislation, in the form of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003), has been around for some time now, so if you’re unaware of the rules or just a bit ‘rusty’, here’s a handy guide that can be read in just a couple of minutes.

How is e-Marketing defined?

Any message attempting to achieve marketing objectives through the use of electronic communications technology consisting of text, voice, sound or images. Examples include, fax, SMS and telephone as well as e-mail marketing.

Can I target e-mail to individuals without their permission?

You can only carry out unsolicited marketing to individuals by e-mail if they have given you permission to do so.

Are there any exceptions to this?

Yes, sometimes referred to as the ‘soft opt-in’, the rule is relaxed if three exemption criteria can be satisfied:

  • You have obtained the individual’s details in the course of a sale or during negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that person,
  • The messages are only marketing similar products or services, and
  • The individual is given the opportunity to refuse the marketing when their details are collected and, if they choose not to opt out you must provide them with a simple way to do so in all future communications.

What if they want to opt out?

Individuals can opt-out of receiving your e-mail marketing at any time and you must comply with any requests to do so promptly.

What type of reply mechanisms are required to opt out?

In simple terms, a direct one. For example, in the case of text messages (SMS), an individual could opt out by sending a stop message such as, ‘text STOP to 123456’.

Can I charge them to opt out?

The only cost incurred should be the cost of sending the opt-out message.

Can I target e-mail to organisations without their permission?

You don't need to have organisations’ consent since e-mails that do not contain personal information are not specifically regulated under English law. However, you must include a valid address where opt-out requests can be sent.

What if I target a person in an organisation?

If you send an e-mail that contains personal data, for example firstname.surname@business.co.uk, then the individual concerned has the right to prevent that e-mail address being used for direct marketing purposes by objecting to the processing of that personal data.

Do I need to provide any information about myself?

Whatever information you provide when you’re targeting either individuals or organisations, you must not conceal your identity. Remember too that the Companies Act requires all business e-mails to include the company registration number, place of registration and registered office address.

What about my e-mail service provider?

You should also check your e-mail service providers’ terms and conditions. These sometimes require a more stringent standard of consent than the general law.

“Whatever information you provide when you’re targeting either individuals or organisations, you must not conceal your identity.”

So what’s good practice?

  • Strive for opt-in marketing wherever possible
  • Provide a statement of use whenever you collect details
  • Make sure you explain clearly what individuals’ details will be used for
  • Do not use consent boxes that are pre-ticked
  • Provide a quick and easy method for recipients to opt out of marketing messages at no cost other than that of sending the message
  • Comply with opt-out requests from anyone who requests it
  • Have a system in place to deal with complaints about unwanted marketing
  • When you receive an opt-out request, suppress any individual or company details rather than deleting them so that you’ll have a record of who not to contact.

Further information

For more details on the rules of e-mail marketing, visit the website of The Information Commissioner's Office, the UK’s independent authority whose role is ‘to promote access to official information and to protect personal information’.

Here at The Escape, we regularly engage in e-mail marketing activities and use a methodology we refer to as ‘Permission Marketing’. This approach is best described as ‘a process of developing customer relationships through permission, refinement and relevance as opposed to more traditional, direct marketing techniques’.

Should you need any advice or assistance with your e-marketing campaigns, then contact The Escape or call us on 01256 334 567 for a chat.

Source http://www.the-escape.co.uk

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Jumat, 24 April 2009

How To Make A Super Brochure Or Mailing Piece

By Tom Egelhoff

1. Put your selling message on the cover.

This is the most important rule of all and, curiously, one that is little followed. The cover of a brochure works like a headline of a print ad. Four out of five people never get beyond it. If you depend on the inside pages to make a sale, you are wasting 80% of your money.

2. Insist on a "family resemblance" with your advertising. Develop a theme for your marketing plan and carry it throughout your ad campaign.

3. Use a single illustration on the cover. Research suggests that one large illustration is more effective than several small ones. Illustrations with story appeal that involve the reader add impact.

4. Select pictures that tell a story. The right photographs can often express your positioning better than words.

5. Always caption photographs. Next to the cover, captions are the best-read element of any brochure.

6. Don't be afraid of long copy. If people have bothered to write or express an interest in your brochure, they are prospects for the product or service you are selling. Tell them everything they need to know.

7. Spotlight the important facts. Remember that one of the most frequent criticisms of brochures in general is that they "do not give enough facts." Tell consumers what is included, what are the costs, what are the hours. Graphic devices can help to spotlight important information.

8. Use photo's instead of drawings. Research says that photographs increase recall 26% over drawings. Photographs suggest reality in the readers mind.

9. Make your brochure worth keeping. Give your piece longer life, and longer selling power, by encouraging the consumer to keep it handy.

10. Give your product a first-class ticket. In many cases, the brochure is your product; the "salesperson" who represents you to the customer. Make it as good as your finances will allow.

11. Ask for the order. What action do you want the reader to take? Write, call, return a card? Every piece of literature must contain a clear call to action.

For more on brochure design and mailing see:

How to Design A Basic Brochure

How To Market Your Business With Your Brochure

Direct Mail: What It Is And How To Use It

This article may be reproduced for your group or organization provided it is not altered in any way and the following is attached:

©1998-2004 Eagle Marketing PO Box 271 Bozeman, MT 59771-0271
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Selasa, 21 April 2009

Seven Low-Cost Ways To Advertise Your Business

By Tom Egelhoff

Small businesses always seem to be short of cash for advertising, marketing and promotions. I don't think that will ever change. If it doesn't then there's a reason for this website. Here are a seven things you can do to keep the name out there without breaking the bank.

1. Write about your business. That's what I did, first the book idea and then the website. Good information is at a premium in today's marketplace. Can you provide a column for your local newspaper or shoppers guide? Are there local magazines who are looking for regular contributors? Can't write? See if you can make a series of note cards about your industry that cover the important parts and the news writer will write the actual story.

2. Teach a class. People who know all about your business don't take classes. Although some should. I teach classes on marketing, business cards and brochure design, website marketing, sales and customer service. They bring me customers and they provide a service to the community.
3. Hold Contests. Have slow times in your business. Pump up the sales traffic with a contest. If you're a florist, have floral design contests. Biggest flower. Ugliest flower. Tailor the contest to your business or a local event. Kids love contests and often get the parents (another name for them is Customers) involved.
4. Try low-cost ads. Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can advertise at all. Rather than running a single ad in the local paper, try several smaller ads in shoppers papers. Also use the classifieds. These can sometimes give you more exposure for the buck than one large single ad.
5. Don't just be one of the crowd. Find creative ways of calling attention to your business. Take samples door to door if you have a restaurant or food service. Have unusual sales or giveaways at odd times. I've mentioned Yellowstone Harley-Davidson in Belgrade, Montana, a town of about 6,000. They have a billboard on the interstate proclaiming themselves, "The Largest Harley-Davidson Dealer In Belgrade." Forget the fact they are the only Harley-Davidson Dealer in Belgrade and the only one for over 100 miles in any direction. They call attention to themselves in an outrageous way without offending anyone.
6. Have a great business card and carry them with you. Such a simple thing but most businesses never capitalize on it. If you ever have the opportunity to send me a bill, I guarantee you'll receive a check and my business card. I don't care where you are in the world you'll get my card. Water bill, electric bill, credit cards, magazine subscription, and all insurance bills. I give cards out in grocery stores and gas stations. I don't walk up to people and say, "Here take my card." I find a reason to talk to them ask a few questions, they eventually ask me, "Well, what do you do." Bingo, here's my card. They're in the glove compartment of both cars, my wallet, and a card case I try and carry with me. My wife has my cards and when she's asked, "What does your husband do?" she passes out my card.
7. Say "Thank You." Again such a simple thing. The bigger the ticket item the more a thank you is in order. Let customers know that you appreciate them spending their hard earned money on your products or service. Customers who truly feel special will send you referrals of their friends and neighbors. Write a letter (not some obvious form letter) or at the very least, make a phone call.

Remember, advertising and marketing doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Be smart, be creative, and do some of the things that your competition isn't. (Main Menu)

This article may be reproduced for your non-group or organization provided it is not altered in any way and the following is attached:

©1998-2002 Eagle Marketing PO Box 271 Bozeman, MT 59771-0271
http://www.smalltownmarketing.com - (406) 585-0219 - Toll FREE (888) 550-6100

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