Is Your Website a Litigation Risk?

In 2018, 2,285 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) web accessibility related lawsuits were filed, which is up over 181% from 2017 which had 814. The impact of disability is radically changed on the web because the web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people with disabilities face. When websites, applications, technologies or tools are poorly designed, they can create barriers that exclude certain people from utilizing the web.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) made it clear that the ADA’s mandate reaches the goods and services provided by public accommodations using Internet websites. With this mandate many businesses sites will be non-compliant, leaving them open to lawsuits. Nearly 1 in 5 people in America are considered disabled which is a huge audience of people that can’t properly view your website.

Compliance is an issue that we have barely scraped the surface of in the US. The fact of the matter is that many large companies have already been sued for neglecting website compliance. Many suits have been filed within the last few years with settlement agreements that range greatly. A lawsuit concerning the Target Corporation has already cost them $6,000,000! It’s best to be ahead of the proverbial curve and ensure that your website is compliant.apple-apple-device-design-285814

Website compliance is an issue that will be taking precedent in the next few years. Many large companies already have been sued over compliance, including Target, H&R Block, Pizza Hut and 1-800 Flowers to name a few. These cases may only be the beginning of an onslaught of website accessibility cases, in the years to come. Aside from the legality benefit, a compliant website also offers additional advantages as well including:

Increases Target Audience- Nearly 1 in 5 people in the United States have disabilities ranging from sight, hearing, physical and cognitive. Offering a website that can be navigated by people with any disability opens more demographics, showing your company is committed to diversifying.

Improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO)- Enhancing functionality and usability on your site can aware you a higher ranking by search engines which includes Google, when your site is crawled.

Help Your Reputation- Having a compliant website shows the public and customers that everyone is valuable to your company, because it allows everyone to view it regardless of what disability they might possess.

Improve Website Usability- Make your web pages easy to comprehend, this allows everyone, disabled or not, to find what they need quickly. Your website will likely convert more leads, because users will trust they can find the content they need quickly.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a series of guidelines that are recognized by the Department of Justice. These guidelines are organized into three levels (A, AA, AAA) with similar types of accessibility features in each with AAA having the highest standards. For most, the objective is to satisfy Level AA guidelines, however some government agencies or nonprofits that cater to a larger impaired audience may work towards satisfying many of the AAA guidelines.

Companies will continue expanding their activism and investment into issues that matter to employees, customers and communities. Taking a proactive stance to website accessibility is the best way to ensure that you avoid potential lawsuits and improve aspects of your website. TAG can provide you with a website audit, giving you detailed information on key aspects of where your website is failing and assist you in creating a site that is compliant. For information regarding website design and functionality visit our website for more information and register for our Website Compliance seminar as well!

Defining Brand Identity with Design

Building a brand is a huge task in and of itself but being able to communicate your brand identity across multiple mediums can enhance the overall experience for the user. Graphics applied to a physical space allow a company to communicate their brand without having to say a word to customers or clients.

Environmental graphics can play a huge role in your brand. Your lobby space is a high foot traffic area, and you must consider visitors perception of your business. Imagery can be instrumental in the telling of your brand story through colors and engaging content.

TAG has helped define and redesign several projects for clients including refreshing and integrating a company’s brand identity though environmental graphics and identity design.

TAG

TAG experienced flooding in our lobby area, which resulted in the physical space needing to be redone. The team turned tragedy into triumph and completely redesigned and redefined the space. The goal of redesigning the lobby space was to create an area that is welcoming and comfortable to guests, but also to illustrate TAG’s brand design and identity. Graphically the piece showcases a timeline of TAG’s history to our clients but expresses our brand identity through a high trafficked area. The graphic features a mosaic of words and images that fit together like a puzzle, many of which carry meaning and are symbolic moments in TAG’s history. The space is extremely unique and has become a great conversation starter as clients and visitors want to learn more!TAG Lobby

Two Rivers Financial Group

When TAG originally designed Two Rivers Financial Group’s brand identity, it started with understanding the business and history as well as where they wanted their future to go. This led TAG to creating a brand that features hand-painted watercolor graphics which we developed in-house. The watercolor was meant to be a friendly visual approach tying directly to the reference of the water in the name. Simultaneously, we developed the positioning statement for the bank division “My Neighborhood. My Bank.” This was used to emphasize the local approach taken by Two Rivers in how they conduct their business and treat their valued customers. We crafted their annual report covering 2018, to feature both the brand look of watercolor graphics, and the local, community-involved focus of the report. TAG’s VP of Design Services Brian Buckles hand-painted the watercolor landscape scenes of key communities that Two Rivers Financial Group serves, resulting in a well-received and brilliantly designed annual report.

MtPleasant_DowntownDM_Principal  Burlington_Bridge

NewLondon_DowntownIC_CapitalMeadiapolis_Downtown

 

L&W Bedding

Another client, L&W Bedding required a brand refresh which offered a unique challenge to the TAG team. L&W Bedding makes high-quality mattresses which are all made locally right here in the Quad Cities. The owner of L&W Bedding, John Wheatley, is such a part of his business that you often can find him sitting behind a sewing machine, stitching together the next mattress. Their existing brand identity did not communicate the hand-crafted and high-quality approach to mattress making that they offer. TAG’s approach was to redesign their logo, creating a graphic with a stitched look that is as unique as the business, but also redesigning the store’s interior and exterior signs to reflect the uniqueness of the business. The signage was created to help guide customers into and through the store, attention-grabbing floor graphics and delivery vehicle wraps. TAG’s recommendations were well received, and the in-store experience became a whole new environment. All the elements came together, forming a cohesive visual language and brand identity that consumers were able to retain with ease.

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Everyone’s brand is unique and can be translated through a variety of mediums. Your brand is your business, the essence of who and what you stand for. It is important that you communicate that effectively to your customers. To efficiently utilize and voice your brand, you must communicate it through multiple facets of media. Design can be an effective tool in giving your office an inviting look into your company’s brand identity. Let TAG help you redefine your brand and show people who you really are. Contact us here to get started.

TAG! You’re It!

Meet Brian Buckles!

Brian is our Vice President of Design Services and like a Great White shark he navigates the design waters with creativity and grace. We want to ask him questions about his approach to design and what frightens him the most.

You dabble in painting, if could get a life sized portrait of yourself and the family done, which painter/artist (dead or alive) would you choose to capture the moment?

Claude Monet has always been my favorite artist. His use of color and the ability to capture the sense of light and atmosphere of a scene through dabs of color is incredible. While Monet focused his subject matter primarily on landscapes, having him paint my clan in his style would be fun to see. He would definitely have to paint quickly though…my kids don’t like to sit still…

claude-monet-claude-monet-the-artist-s-garden-art-print-poster_a-G-9795529-0

How do you go about approaching creating a design or logo for someone? Does it require research or do you sort of jump in and you figure it out as you go along?

It’s all about research! Knowing the business and its history (unless it’s a startup), vision and key attributes are all imperative. The more of the story of the business that you know, the easier it is to develop a symbol that captures the essence of that story. Of course, you never know where the design process will lead you, but research is imperative to getting off on the right foot on the design journey.

You continue driving the same green car (which is in pristine condition btw) but if you could have any vehicle you wanted regardless of price or fictionality what would you choose and why?

I would love to have a fully-restored 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. The design of the car and the attention to detail are amazing. Modern car is tougher, I don’t have one favorite but have always had a soft spot for the Chevrolet Camaro and Mazda Miata.

1955 Chevrolet Belair

Regarding design, how would you describe all of the complexities to someone who might not understand how much work truly goes in to what you do?

Design is really a process of elimination. It’s done best when you go through an exploration stage of research, sketching (tons of sketching!) to determine a design direction, selection of the best singular idea and then the refinement stage, which includes removing all unnecessary components of the design to whittle it down to it’s simplest and most effective form. While design still has an art element, design also has a job to do, and that is to communicate an intended message and we know that messages are best retained when they are clear and easy to remember. Many people can make something “look good”, but it’s next level when something that looks good is also able to clearly communicate the intended message. This is the challenge and what separates good design from great design.

Da dum…da dum da dum….da da da daummmmmmm. (Jaws?) You’re a big shark guy, what’s shark week like for you? Is it your Superbowl?

I am mildly (okay, majorly) obsessed with sharks, so yeah, Shark Week is a thing. If I’m honest, it’s the best week of the year, no contest.

Jaws

What are 3 of your favorite projects that you have worked on during your time at TAG?

I really don’t have 3 favorites. I really enjoy the problem-solving nature of design and helping the client achieve success through design is super rewarding for me. But if I had to pick some that were unique, creating the strawberry characters for the “Be Healthy QC” campaign for the Quad Cities Health Initiative was a fun campaign with a great cause, developing the Two Rivers Financial Group brand was great, working on the Hungry Hobo brand is always enjoyable (along with eating their sandwiches, particularly #3).

Is there something that scares you more than anything? If so, how much money would it take for you to face your fear?

Spiders! A LOT of money…haven’t settled on an amount yet but It’s more money than I’ve ever seen.

Spider

What is your favorite part about working at TAG?

I love that I get the opportunity to learn about so many different types of businesses and meeting so many different people. In many cases, I feel like I am an extension of their business and team, which is really cool. Plus, I totally dig graphic design so getting to do this everyday for my job is awesome. As a bonus, my TAG Teammates aren’t half bad either!

 

International TAG Team

Many TAG clients are local, or U.S. based. But, did you know we work with international companies as well? TAG clients and services reach all over the globe, making us worldwide! This requires us to be extremely forward-thinking and compliant to assure we represent our clients effectively. So not only are we worried about compliance state-side but also abroad!

International Clients TAG currently works with:

Sandstrom Coating Technologies develops and manufactures quality coatings for customers all over the world. Sandstrom needed a contemporary website with improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The TAG team updated Sandstrom’s brand as seen on their website, to reflect its status in the industry and convey expertise to global customers.

Sivyer Steel Castings produces high quality steel casting products for use in the global construction, energy, military, mining and transportation industries. While the company implemented a plan to restructure in early 2018, the TAG team helped Sivyer launch their turnaround with key strategies focused on reinvigorating their brand. This involved redesigning their website and enhancing social media deployment to include video as well as public relation strategies to better communicate with a work market how Sivyer can meet the needs of the industry.

Crane Merchandising Systems is a leading global manufacturer of innovative solutions for vending machines, cashless systems, software and wireless communications. As a pioneer and market leader in vending, Crane has sought out new ways to enhance how consumers interact with their machines. TAG is engaged in assisting with launching new product brands utilizing strong design and messaging deployed on the web, print media and trade shows. All efforts are geared toward new customer lead development and current customer retention.

Sears Seating supplies superior seating solutions with over five generations of experience. Sears has expanded greatly over the years, establishing Sears Europe in the United Kingdom, signing a manufacturing partnership in India, expanding business in Brazil and even opening an office in Japan. The TAG team designed and launched a website that is adaptable in North America and Europe to help customers navigate their new site to easily receive the highest quality products.

TAG represents clients domestically as well as internationally, all over the globe. No matter the client if they are an Iowa native or a business owner in the United Kingdom, we offer the same services and steadfast dedication to creating and designing the very best. Our website compliance assures that your content will be accessible to all user no matter what country they reside in. For more information regarding our work please visit our website!

TAG! You’re It!

Meet Zach O’Connell! ZO_3

Zach recently celebrated his two-year anniversary at TAG and has been creating inventive designs and eating oatmeal every morning but today, we ask him about his creative process and other thought-provoking questions.

If you had to describe yourself using a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?

I am a knife because of how sharp I am.

What helps you get into that creative space to design?

I am most creative when I am able to really focus on what I’m doing with a clear mind, so I will do things like go on a walk during my lunch break to help me get into that space. I also do a lot of sketching quickly, get a lot of ideas out before taking it to the computer.

You have a time machine. You can go back to any time period to have dinner and conversation with 3 people. Who are they and why?

First, I would pick Walt Disney to hear about the humble beginnings of what has become a massive company.

Second, I would pick one of my ancestors like my great great grandfather because I don’t know really anything about them and it would be interesting to learn more about where I come from.

Third, Steve Jobs, because I could hear about the early days of Apple, but more importantly, I hope he would be able to tell me about the early days of Pixar as well.

Tell me one thing about design that everyone outside of that world might not understand?

How valuable it is.  A lot of work goes into making things look good and function well, and it can have a massive impact on how we interact with the world around us.

You find yourself trapped in the board game Jumanji, do you think you survive or is it Game Over? giphy

Am I allowed to watch the movie before entering the game, so I can remember how to get out? Regardless, I’ll make it out.

What are your 3 favorite projects you have worked on at TAG? 

Three of my favorite projects I’ve worked on are: Logo and website design for Smokestack, packaging re-design for Hungry Hobo, and I still think it’s cool when I see Genesis buses driving around town with artwork I created on them.

When is your ideal bed time?

I used to be a pretty devoted 11:00 pm guy, but recently I have been getting up earlier and have transitioned to more of a 10:00 pm person (sometimes it’s more like 9:30. Teenage me would be shocked).

Finally, what is your favorite part about working at TAG?  

My favorite part about working at TAG is getting to be creative with a great team every day!

Why White Space is Important in Design

Print

What was the first thing you noticed about this banner? Chances are it was either the happy couple or Something Borrowed, they both drive home the same message. It was effective in standing out because it was not overcrowded with copy, images and logos.

Using white space is an effective way to draw your eye to a particular point, and can also improve message retention. But in order to use white space effectively you have to know what it really is.

It’s a simple answer isn’t it? But white space, also known as negative space, is more than just a blank canvas. That “white” area could actually be composed of color or texture. It even exists in those spaces between and around words. The most professional-looking ads have been designed with white space in mind.

Many times people want to fill every square inch of the space. However, it is better to use the less is more approach, and use negative space to put the emphasis on actual content. When you don’t use negative space, the viewer is overwhelmed by images and text, making it difficult to retain the message. You can’t do that without some white space.

These elements are the most important when it comes to using white space:

  1. Consider the main message  – Be sure that you are surrounding the most important part of your ad with enough white space.
  2. Who is the customer  – They are not all the same, you need to adjust accordingly.
  3.  Appropriate margins – To help the ad look purposefully designed, use enough negative space so that you don’t crowd the edges. This doesn’t mean that elements of the ad can’t bleed to the edges, but your core message needs to be surrounded by enough white space. Sometimes this may mean that you need to reduce the size of text or an image for it to be more effective.
  4. Create a hierarchy – Adjusting the white space around visual elements can create various levels of importance and help the eye move through the ad.

Chelsea Liske, Graphic Designer

Top 5 benefits of updating your old website

If the last time you revised the design of your website was three years ago or more, it is in your benefit to update. Beyond the most apparent advantage of a fresh new look, there are many others you may never have considered.

TAG’s Top 5 benefits of updating your old website:

1.       Easier to edit:

Old websites were designed using hard coding, in which persons trained in HTML were needed to make any changes to the page. Contrary to this old system, a new option available today is the Content Management System, or CMS. The major advantage of a CMS over hard coding is, it is much simpler for the “average” computer user to go in and make changes to the page as needed.

2.       More user friendly:

Consumers’ implicit expectations for websites are in a constant state of change. What was the norm for layout and content on sites even a handful of years ago is not the same as it is today. Investing in routine website design updates ensures your company stays relevant and user friendly to all visitors to your page.

3.       Sleeker image:

Again, the rule of thumb I like to give for redesigning websites is to do so every two to three years. Neglecting this pragmatism with a static web appearance can make you appear just that – neglectful. Take pride in this important aspect of your business, by maintaining an informational and engaging site.

 4.       Improved search engine optimization:

One of the biggest advantages newer websites have is better Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. SEO is the ability of a website to be picked up by search engines such as Google or Yahoo when Internet users type in key words. The reason for this difference is primarily due to the way the site is built and the elements inside – such as photos, videos and blogs.

 5.       Mobile compatibility:

Contrary to their older counterparts, a majority of newly designed websites are mobile optimized for Smartphone and tablet users. This means the content on the page is not only quick to load, but is set to appropriate scale and easy to find. With 20 percent of the U.S.’s Internet use streaming from these two sources, mobile compatibility is not an element to be overlooked.

To find out what TAG can do for your old website, click here!

How is a urinal like an advertising agency?

Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had lately start with just 140 characters. The other day, my friend @YoungImpact (Stephen) had referenced in a tweet the phrase, “toilet as canvas” in relation to a venture capitalist start up event in Washington DC. Just to show you what type of rabbit warren the tangents in my head resemble, his tweet immediately reminded me of Marcel Duchamp and his pivotal work, Fountain.

Subsequently, we had a brief conversation about venture capitalists, art and Hugh Jackman …and you’re about to read the final result of that exchange.

When Fountain was submitted by Marcel Duchamp to the Salon in 1917 under the pseudonym of R. Mutt, it was not displayed.  The board members, for whatever reason, did not see fit to include the work among “real art.” Whether or not a urinal with a signature is art is academic for the purposes of this blogpost. More important is the upending and redefining of what art is/was.

Simply by elevating any “found object” or “readymade” to the status of fine art by decreeing it to be so, Duchamp had inverted the traditional patron-artist relationship. Together with Picasso, who also redefined what art could be and for whom, Duchamp had put the power in the hands of the artist. The artist’s vision was the commodity.

Applied to the construct of an advertising agency: why do individuals, organizations and businesses hire us? Is it because we’re snappy dressers? We’re fun at parties? Yes to both, but again, academic for the sake of discussion.

Advertising and marketing firms are in the business of alchemy. We take data from market research, mix it with ink and celluloid, bytes and keystrokes and transform it into a message. The people who work at firms like ours are artists. We can kern letters just so. We can take your message and marry it with technology to render it memorable.

Our vision is our value. Our audience perspective is where it all pays off.