SITE Scotland is is a charity for blind and visually impaired people providing training, advice and support.
A new accessible website was required to meet the needs of their users; a website that would add a high level of interactivity and allow SITE members to add their own multimedia content.
Detailed discussions took place at the start of the project (and throughout) to ensure that the new website would address each of these weaknesses and still be attractive and accessible. A major goal of the new website was also to create a facility that would allow members to provide their own content to the site in the form of video, text, images and audio.
It was decided to us WordPress as the basis for managing the site. WordPress is easy to use (once you get beyond the initial learning curve) and it has a huge number of plugins – to provide the required functionality. Because of its ubiquity, on-going technical support will not be a problem; a huge number of developers support all aspects of WordPress.
Crucially, WordPress is also supported by external editors such as MarsEdit (a desktop blog editor for the Mac) which made it easier for the project manager to add and edit content on the site using a screen reader.
In terms of visual design, it was decided that high contrast bright colours should be used, as this fitted in both with the need to retain the existing branding and the need to provide good contrast for people with visual impairments. Different sections of the site were identified by different colours and both icons and text was used for the main navigation. As part of the design process the design of the SITE Scotland logo was refreshed to fit in with the more modern look of the site.
It was not a simple development process given the complex needs, however, all of the goals for the site have been met and feedback from both SITE Scotland staff and website users has been very positive.
I met Jim a couple of years ago when he was presenting to a conference on accessible websites. I contacted him to bid for our new website and he has engaged with me and our team to provide what is a fantastic website which is the central point of our promotion and communication strategy.
Jim worked very closely with us at every stage, listened to what our needs and those of the sight loss community and provided us with exactly what we wanted and more.
None of our team had any experience in web design but Jim took us all through the processes involved in a manner which was easily to understand. and which we have learned so much.
The feedback we have received from visitors to our new website has been all positive and I would have no hesitation in recommending Jim to other organisations. John Turley, Development Manager, SITE Scotland.
We recently completed a website and Logo redesign for the Edinburgh Tenants Federation (ETF); the umbrella organisation for local tenants and residents groups in the City of Edinburgh.
The brief was to address the weaknesses of their existing website (the content was poorly organised and it was difficult to update) and add a host of new features that would help serve ETF members and their target groups, i.e. Tenants and Residents, Funders, Landlords and Community and Learning Development organisations.
The aim was to provide relevant news and information to tenants and residents and to encourage greater participation from members and ETF’s various target groups. Additionally, to generally make online communication easier and quicker. Some of the new features developed as part of this process included: more social media integration, a new newsletter system, an events management system, the ability to run questionnaires/polls on the site and an easier method for updating the site.
Content on the the old website was poorly organised, the site was difficult to use and very difficult to update. The site design was also considered to be dull and uninspiring. In addition to the website development, the Logo required redesigning and there was a need to give a more professional feel to the overall online ‘brand’ of the Edinburgh Tenants Federation.
We successfully addressed all of these issues with the new site design. In relation to improving site management we chose WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. WordPress is both powerful and very easy to use, although, as with all content management systems, there is an initial learning curve; however, once you are up and running it’s a great way to manage a website.
Initially we spent a lot of time exploring (with the staff and ETF committee) the needs of the audience that ETF serve, in order to make sure that the website reflected and served those needs. We wanted to ensure that those things that are the most important for each group should be the easiest to find on the site.
Prioritising target groups and their needs is usually a difficult process – and that was true in this case. However, it proved to be worth the effort as it not only helped with regard to organising the site content but also proved to be beneficial for ETF staff as well, helping to clarify and codify the needs of ETF audiences and the relative importance of those needs.
The website was launched at the ETF AGM and has had extremely positive feedback from all concerned.
“In 2014 Edinburgh Tenants Federation worked with Jim Byrne in an exciting project to overhaul our branding and website. Jim’s brief was to help ETF develop an easy to use website with a fresher look that would appeal to a younger audience and have increased functionality. We had a vision of what we wanted the website to do, and Jim’s technical brilliance and experience of web design helped us to achieve what we needed.
A big part of the brief was to redesign our branding and logo – and in this we were much less clear how we wanted to proceed. Jim’s patience and close work with his designer meant we got a vibrant new image that we could use across all media.
One of Jim’s great strengths is in finding out what clients really need, and throughout the process testing those aspirations with practical examples. We found Jim easy to work with, friendly and professional and we are happy to recommend his work.” Clare MacGillivray, Development Coordinator Edinburgh Tenants Federation
Considerable discussion and thought went into creating the new SAIF website to ensure that it represents a substantial improvement over the old site. The organisation of site content was greatly simplified: all of the text has been revised and the site makes greater use of social media for the sharing of site content.
For example, Twitter is used as the main way to publish SAIF news, social sharing buttons have been added to top of each page and each page incorporates a Facebook ‘Like’ button. ‘Like’ buttons allow people to share content from the SAIF website via their own Facebook profile pages.
The publications section in particular was ‘pruned’ to omit any old or out of date publications and the navigation was re-organised to ensure quicker access to key documents. Custom icons were designed for Microsoft Word, PDF and HTML page versions of each document.
Although it is not obvious when looking at the website that the SAIF logo has been updated; when viewed next to the old logo it is clear that the slightly lighter colours give the overall design a fresher lighter feel; the darker colours on the old logo were (it could be argued) leaning toward the ‘staid’ end of the spectrum.
On the technical side of things:
In addition to the main site, the SAIF online training virtual learning environment was updated – including adding a single sign-on for existing courses and re-design of the look and feel to make it consistent with the rest of the site. Enhancements were made to the registration process along with other tweaks to forms and interactive elements.
The new SAIF website was developed using WordPress, which is now the world’s most popular content management system. Several WordPress plugins were used to help with accessibility, security, daily backups, to increase the speed of the site and to help with site management.
The downside to using plugins is that they don’t always generate valid code; which unfortunately can lead to the site failing HTML validation tests (which are part of the Worldwide Web Consortiums website Content Accessibility Guidelines) however on the whole, this was not the case and I was able to find suitable plugins that had minimal validation issues. There are still some validation issues but they do not have an impact on the accessibility of the website for visitors.
To help SAIF build its list of contacts the site has been integrated with the online mailing list service provided by Mailchimp.
Taking into account the Equalities Act, BS 8878 and WCAG, the website has been designed to be accessible to the widest possible audience.
With on-going input from the management committee and project worker Mairi – the new site presents a comprehensive visual redesign, including subtle updates to the logo and branding, with the aim of producing an easier to use accessible website. I hope you like it.
Orro provides customers with jewellery from Europe’s leading designers. A website was commissioned that would be attractive to their target market, reflect the design aesthetic of the jewellery, and showcase the modernist interior of the shop itself.
A main aim of the site is to provide quick access to high quality images of the Jewellery. Images are organised into categories of precious, non-precious and watches. Orro staff can update jewellery, descriptions and images and all content themselves.
A lot of time was spent getting the look of the website correct – the result was a minimalist, elegant design.