Using Content Best Practices to Create Trust & Reliability
One of the key ways to create trust with your customers or members is to be consistent. This means following best practices across your entire utility website.
Your site visitors have busy lives. We understand that they likely do not have the time to browse a website for hours on end. Whether they are someone who doesn’t have time to come into your office and they’re looking to complete a task online, or they’re busy with other work and cannot devote their full attention to the task at hand, we believe in putting people first. That is why we implement our best practices: to help your site visitor to find what they need quickly and efficiently and ensure your content is accessible to all.
A key aspect of your website is the navigation. How your site visitors move through your electric cooperative, broadband or utility website can greatly affect their experience.
- When building your website’s navigation, we take into consideration why people are coming to your site. The order in which items appear in your global navigation menu matters. Because people read from left to right, the most common tasks your site visitors want to complete should appear first in the menu.
- Take into consideration how many items appear in your global navigation menu. Too many items in the menu can be overwhelming, and too few make it harder to navigate through your site’s interior pages and find what you are looking for. As part of our best practices, we recommend between 5 and 6 items in the global navigation menu to allow for ease-of-navigation while not being too crowded and distracting.
- We make sure that the navigation appears in the same order across the entire website. The order in which your pages appear in the global navigation should always match the order that they appear in the sidebar menus. Someone who is new to your website deserves to be able to find the information they are looking for quickly and intuitively, and maintaining a consistent navigation is how we achieve that.
Another aspect that we take into consideration is how your site visitors navigate through your utility website. People with mobility or dexterity impairments may have difficulty using a mouse, which can make utilizing drop-down menus frustrating or even impossible. To help accommodate these site visitors, we utilize “landing pages”. These landing pages include a set of “navigation tiles” which provide your site visitor with a mouse-free option to navigate through your site.
Headings can be a great way of guiding your site visitors through the content on your pages. We always follow a hierarchy when implementing headings into your pages. This makes the content easy to follow and allows your site visitors to quickly find the information they are looking for. By splitting your information into sections, scanning a page for relevant information becomes much easier.
ACCESSIBILITY TIP: Headings are a useful tool for your site visitors who use screen readers. Screen readers can navigate quickly through a page by reading through the headings first. By using consistent and descriptive headings, you give those site visitors the opportunity to save time by eliminating the need to read the entire page.
Links & Documents
- It is crucial to ensure that all links used on your site are descriptive. So, what is a descriptive link? A descriptive link is one that accurately describes where it is taking your site visitor. Some examples of a non-descriptive link are “Click Here” or “Read More.” Although you might provide context for the link within the surrounding text, it is important to keep in mind those site visitors who use a screen reader.
- Someone who is using a screen reader may choose to read only the links on a page, so each link should be descriptive enough that the link makes sense on its own, outside the context of the surrounding sentences. For example, instead of saying “Click Here,” a descriptive link would say “Pay My Utility Bill.”
- When linking documents, we always include the file extension in parenthesis, so your site visitors know that they are opening or downloading a file. This also lets your site visitors what type of document they are opening.
Online forms come with many benefits, such as allowing your site visitors to submit a form from the comfort of their home without the hassle of downloading, printing, and mailing.
Online forms are faster, easier, and can even be completed on the go with a mobile device.
- One great feature of our online forms is the ability to set up conditional logic. Conditional logic allows certain form fields to appear only when other criteria are met. This lets your site visitors fill out your forms more efficiently without having to sift through information that might not apply to them.
- Online forms also allow for certain fields to be marked as “required”. You will often see online forms that label required fields with an asterisk. Our online forms use the word “required” in place of an asterisk so that it is clear to those using a screen reader which fields they need to fill out and which are optional.
- We ensure an accessible approach to form fields. This includes opting to use a “date field” rather than a “date picker”. Date pickers can be difficult for site visitors with mobility impairments, as a mouse is required to choose a date from a calendar for these fields. With the date field, site visitors enter information in a (mm/dd/yyyy) format, eliminating the need to use a mouse.
Alternate Text & Video Descriptions
Did you know that 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has a disability? Vision impairment is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults 18 years or older (Source: CDC) As part of our best practices, we make sure your new website is ADA compliant and is accessible to people with disabilities.
- For people with visual impairments, there are certain practices that we follow to ensure that your site is meeting accessibility standards.
- Alt-tags are required for images – this is essential as it describes the function and appearance of photos or graphics for site visitors who cannot see.
- We avoid embedding text in images, as this text is not translatable or accessible for those who use a screen reader or whose first language is not English.
- Videos are required to have audio descriptions – like alt-tags in images, audio descriptions make videos accessible for site visitors with vision impairments.
Your Trusted Team of Web Experts
Our team of trusted web experts provide your site visitors with the best possible experience. Everyone has the right to access the web. No matter who your site visitors are, we believe in putting people first. By implementing our best practices, we can provide a site that is easy to navigate and accessible to all.