TAG! You’re It!

Meet Andy Erickson!  Andy!

Andy is our Lead Web Developer and understands things many earth lifeforms can’t even begin to comprehend. We ask him questions about what a developer even means and more importantly, which character in Star Wars he would be.

If you weren’t a developer and somehow became a superhero, whose superpowers would you choose to wield when Thanos and his army of minions invade Earth?  

Being a bald man, I feel the need to give love to the few bald superheroes out there, so I’d have to choose the powers of Professor X. Not only does he look good, the mind control would come in handy also.

Profx

For people who don’t understand what a developer does, how would you put it in layman’s terms for people trying to comprehend what you do?

A developer basically takes a visual design, and uses coding and programming languages to translate it into what you will use and interact with on the internet.

Matrix

If you could create the ultimate band/group of people to play together living or dead, who would be in your dream group and why?

I would have loved to hear what Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan would have done together. Mostly because Bob picked up where Woody left off, and seeing them grow together would have been wild.

What do you enjoy about programming? Do you like it for the sake of creating or the challenge or both?

The thing I enjoy most about programming is solving the puzzle of how to get everything to work. I’m a sucker for puzzles, and one with so many parts and variables excites me.

If you could have Jack Nicholson (your favorite actor) be in any movie during his prime, what would it be?  (It can’t be Over The Top)

You know what would have been fun to see Jack as? Dumbledore in all the Harry Potter movies.

Jack

You have been at TAG for quite a few years now, any projects that you are particularly proud of or especially enjoyed working on?

I’ve always had a lot of fun working on multiple versions of the Hungry Hobo website. We’ve always been able to push the limits in terms of design and development on those, and they came out really cool.

If you could be any character in the Star Wars galaxy, who would you choose and why? (excluding Jar Jar Binks, no one wants that Andy)

I totally would want to be Lando Calrissian because he’s suave, charming, and wears a cape.

lando-gif-08042015gif

What is your favorite part about working at TAG?

I love working in a creative collaborative environment, and that the work we produce benefits from that.

 

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.

LW_Before_SmallLW_After_Mockup_Small

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!

 

Expanding Your Nonprofit Identity: HAVlife™

Understanding your nonprofit’s brand identity is key when telling people what your organization is and its mission. Effectively marketing your non-profit and showcasing its identity gets your message out to more people, allowing for wider reach. You want to reach as many people as possible, and updating your web presence, utilizing social media and public relation events, you can start to gain a following.Havlife_Golf_Outing_Poster

TAG has assisted HAVlife™, an organization aimed at Preventing Lost Potential™ in youth ages 10 – 15, in crafting its brand identity and expressing how important the nonprofit’s mission is. TAG approached crafting an identity reflecting the nonprofit’s mission and resources it offers to students. By giving HAVlife™ a platform and web presence, it would be easier to showcase the organization and its mission.

Designing the HAVlife™ website, TAG clearly defines the HAVlife™ brand with a playful and unique user experience, while showing exactly what the mission is. Featuring videos of students pursuing their passions of artistry, athletics and music, the mission shines through. The site also includes the corresponding chapter pages of the HAVlife™ organization which include Dubuque and Johnson County. Each of these pages feature their own donation buttons and events corresponding to the area.

Havlife_MSO_PosterMarketing your nonprofit across various forms of media is also a necessity. TAG utilized digital design by creating Snapchat filters and digital media, including Facebook and Twitter, to market HAVlife™ to different audiences. Consistently posting and showing people that your organization is active in the community will expand your audience.

Presenting your nonprofit through public relations and hosting fundraisers is a great way to engage people. HAVlife™ hosts several annual fundraising events including the Martini Shake Off™ and a Golf Outing. These events have grown exponentially over the years, with the 2019 Martini Shake Off raising over $65,000 for local community organizations aimed at Preventing Lost Potential™.

If you are interested in learning now the TAG team can help market your nonprofit’s mission, contact us here.

Lawsuits surrounding website accessibility growing steadily with no signs of slowing down

Is your website a litigation risk?

wcag 2.0 website compliance

 

There has been a dramatic increase in legal cases regarding lack of ADA compliance on websites. In 2018, 2,285 ADA web accessibility related lawsuits were filed —up 181% over 2017 which had 814, according to UsableNet. It appears the courts are denying most Motions for Summary Judgment and Motions to Dismiss in cases where ADA compliance on websites is an issue.

When you look at the headquarter locations of the companies in litigation, it is clear the effect is nationwide and international. The top ten states where these lawsuits are occurring are New York, California, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Connecticut. Additionally, 11% of companies sued are headquartered internationally.

What is website accessibility?

The web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability. When the web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.
Thus, the impact of disability is radically changed on the web because the web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world. However, when websites, applications, technologies, or tools are poorly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the web.

Who needs to be compliant?

In 2015 the Department of Justice (DOJ) made it clear that the ADA’s expansive nondiscrimination mandate reaches the goods and services provided by public accommodations using Internet websites. The US Attorney General signed the ADA Amendments Act Final Rule on July 15, 2016, that broadened the definition of “disability” making compliance regulations for websites even more stringent.

Thus, it is crucial that any and all companies with an online presence comply with Title II and Title III of the ADA on their websites.

Lessons from three cases

Overall, ADA compliance on websites has become an issue that is being tried more often which can be seen by the number of suits filed within the last few years. Additionally, settlement agreements range greatly.

  • National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation
    Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Scribd Inc., 97 F. Supp. 3d 565 (D. Vt. 2015)
    Target argued that the website was not a place of public accommodation and lost.
    A settlement agreement was handed down for $6,020,000
  • National Federation of the Blind v. HRB Digital L.L.C.
    National Fed’n of the Blind v. HRB Digital L.L.C., 2014 WL 10319389
    The complaint alleged that H&R Block failed to code its website in a manner that would make it accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing and physical disabilities. A settlement was handed down for $100,000.
  • Frazier v. HCA Holdings, Inc
    Frazier v. HCA Holdings, Inc., filed 1/25/17.
    HCA Holdings is a healthcare services provider that owns more than 100 hospitals across the United States. Liza Frazier, the plaintiff, is legally blind and uses screen reader software to access the Internet. This case is still pending.

Five reasons why your website should be accessible:

Not being sued is a good reason to ensure your website is accessible. However, there are even more benefits of a compliant website.

1) ADA Compliance Increases Your Target Audience by 19%
57 million, nearly 1 in 5, people in the U.S. have disabilities ranging from sight and hearing to physical and cognitive. By offering a website that can be navigated by people with disabilities, you not only show your company is committed to diversifying, but also open up a new demographic.

2) ADA Compliance Improves Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Efforts
SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to get found by as many people as possible by appearing at the top of search results. SEO and accessibility go hand-in-hand. Websites that are inaccessible to disabled visitors are also inaccessible to search engines

3) ADA Compliance May Help Your Reputation
The fact that an ADA compliant website can increase your target audience by millions is just one reason to make your site more accessible. Another benefit is that not only will you get more customers, but those customers will also know how valuable they are to your business.

4) ADA Compliance Means Overall Better Website Usability
Making your web pages easier to comprehend will allow everyone – disabled or non – to find what they’re looking for quickly. If you decide to follow the guidelines, your website will likely convert more leads across the board because users will trust that they can always easily find the content they need.

5) You Can Avoid Penalties
If you are a successful business owner it is not hard to imagine a compliance letter from a local law firm coming across your desk. Many esteemed brands have been hit with significant lawsuits in recent years, before the guidelines were even set in stone. Businesses including Target, Fordham University, Foot Locker, Brooks Brothers, and even Kylie Jenner have been sued for the lack of ADA compliant websites.

The Gold Standard: WCAG 2.0 AA Compliance
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a series of guidelines that are recognized by the DOJ and internationally as the adopted standard of website accessibility. These guidelines are organized into three levels (A, AA, AAA) with similar types of accessibility features addressed in each, but AA having more and AAA having the highest criteria standards.

For most organizations, the objective is to satisfy Level AA guidelines. However, some government agencies and nonprofits who serve a larger impaired audience, may work toward satisfying the majority of Level AAA guidelines.

The WCAG states that it is likely not possible to conform to all AAA guidelines.

The principles of WCAG 2.0 are:

Perceivable

  • You must give alternatives if a user cannot use one of their senses.
  • Provide text alternatives for non-text content
  • Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
  • Create content that can be presented in different ways
  • Include assistive technologies without losing meaning
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content

Operable

  • Web designers must make the user interface components and navigation elements in a way that everyone can “operate” with it.
  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard
  • Give users enough time to read and use content
  • Do not use content that causes seizures
  • Help users navigate and find content

Understandable
If your user doesn’t understand what you are talking about, or you make them feel lost, you have an accessibility problem. You must design your website, including the information and the user interface, in a friendly way.

Why does it matter?
The area that organizations focus on most in this section is readability. Specifically, as it pertains to color contrast. For some individuals, particularly those with some degree of color blindness, text is simply unreadable in certain background color combinations.

Robust

This is the most technology dependent principle of all. You must be aware of the evolution of these technologies to adapt your website to their new capabilities.

Why does it matter?

Assistive technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, and your site needs to adapt in step with new hardware and software tools.

What should I do today?

“Everyone is a watchdog or whistleblower these days thanks to pervasive social media and deep searches on the internet. Companies can no longer hide their worst traits and habits —and this is a good thing.”

The events of the past 12 months have tested companies in a number of ways and changed mainstream discourse about the role corporations should play in advancing and addressing social and global challenges. There’s no turning back. In 2018 and beyond, the expectation is that companies will continue to expand their activism on, and investment in, the issues that matter to their employees, customers and communities.

 

wcag 2.0 website compliance seminarTAG recommends you take a proactive stance to website accessibility. Our role as your most valuable business partner is to arm you with the facts you need to make informed decisions and mitigate your liability.

Compliance and Marketing Website Audit:
Our responsibility as our clients’ most valued business partner is offering professional recommendations guided by decades of experience. If you’re not sure if your marketing efforts are making the biggest impact, we can help you figure out exactly what’s working and what may need adjustments.

TAG can provide you with a website audit that not only provides you with detailed information on compliance but on your website’s marketing performance as well.

You own this data. As a business owner or manager, you enjoy oversight that reveals issues. On an operational level, your IT department receives a comprehensive set of specific, technical improvements ready for immediate application.

For more information visit us at: https://tagteam.agency/services/wcag-2.0-compliance/

Compliance Mitigation to New Design & Development:
Finding out what is wrong with your website is only half the battle. You need a marketing and development partner to make recommendations based on your brand and goals. TAG can provide a wide range of recommendations based on the technical audits. TAG can create a finely tuned web strategy that is truly tailored to your ideal customers.

For more information visit us at: https://tagteam.agency/services/website-design-and-development/

 

 

TAG! You’re It!

Meet Anne Spoden Kiss!

Anne is our Vice President of Digital Services and recently returned from maternity leave and has not slept in months. She comes back to TAG because as Cardi B says, “I got a baby, I need some money.” We want to welcome her back with questions about her work ethic and other existential questions:

You have a baby now; did you mark it immediately to make sure people could identify it was yours?P9

I think people will definitely know she’s mine. She can’t even walk and already has a closet full of shoes, and is practicing her side-eye to give when people are saying something crazy to her. She’s got a big personality, loves to be around people and smiles when she farts. She’s a real blessing in our lives!

Working with social media, what do you find to be the most fascinating trend or impact regarding people interacting online?

Social Media has really opened the door to building relationships with people and brands who may be traditionally outside your circle of influence. People have access to influencers, celebrities, politicians, athletes, and brands in ways that never existed before. This isn’t necessarily a trend but it certainly has influenced the way that people are able to communicate, and has shaped the way brands tells stories and advertise online. People are now using social media to have meaningful conversations, inspire change and engage in new communities of people.

So, we hear you plan on starting Real Housewives of Quad Cities, will you be one of the featured housewives or do you see yourself more as the Andy Cohen of the show?

As much as I’d love to be the star of the RHOQC, my life doesn’t have enough activity or drama to make the series a success. I’m more of the puppeteer behind the mayhem (ala Andy Cohen) making casting decisions, editing for drama-filled moments, and living vicariously through women who find spending $25,000 on sunglasses is just in a day’s work. As a perk though, I’d like to be included in each season’s cast trip to somewhere exotic.tenor

 

While most people know Google or how to operate it, you are Google certified. How does that differentiate you from all of us novices?

Being Google Certified means that I possess all of the powers of the internet. I’ve spent hours in training (40+), studied and taken tests to prove that I have all the knowledge of the inner workings of Google, including Google Ads, Analytics, YouTube and more. Having Google Certified specialists at TAG is a true benefit for our clients because it means that we understand how to best utilize the plethora of advertising options through Google to create, plan, place, optimize and analyze meaningful online campaigns that drive results.

What’s the deal with you and Mr. Chris Bridges aka Ludacris?

My obsession with Luda started a LONG time ago. Ludacris “Stand Up” was the only song that I made the DJ promise to play at my wedding, and I joked with my husband that we should name our first-born Luda so their name would be Luda Kiss (get it?). But really, I just love his music and it always puts me in a good mood.

luda

You’re the host of Donuts and Digital which I’ve heard gets more viewers than the Tonight Show, can we expect big things from D&D in 2019?

Yes, the ratings are incredible! Now that I’m back from my maternity sabbatical, I’m excited to relaunch our series. Viewers can expect some pretty cool things heading into the new year including, new co-hosts, guest appearances, on-location shoots, viewer engagement and more, all with the same great marketing and advertising information they’ve come to expect from D&D!

We were told you own way too many shoes. What is your favorite pair, and is there a pair of shoes you wished you owned?

I mean … how many is too many? Rachel Zoe said that “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak,” so I let my shoes do the talking for me. I unfortunately just had to say goodbye to my favorite pair (RIP) because I wore them out. They were a gorgeous pair of 5-inch cobalt blue stilettos with spikes all over them. I wouldn’t say that there is a specific pair that I’d love to own, but I’m always looking for shoes that I haven’t seen anyone else wear.

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

My favorite part about working at TAG is the people. Our team, clients and partners make this business exciting each and every day. We always get to create something new and share our passion for our craft with others. When you work with, and for, great people, it makes the work so much more engaging!

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!

GDPR Compliance and Regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is expected to set a new standard for consumer rights regarding their data, but companies will be challenged as they put systems and processes in place to comply.GDPR

The European Parliament adopted the GDPR in 2016, replacing an outdated protection directive from 1995. It carries provisions that require businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. The GDPR also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU. The provisions are consistent across all 28 EU member states, which means that companies have just one standard to meet within the EU. However, that standard is quite high and will require most companies to make a large investment to meet and to administer.

But can they enforce the GDPR in the United States? The answer is yes, as proven by Privacy Shield that passed in 2016, the United States government is fully prepared to cooperate in the enforcement of privacy laws enacted by the EU.

“Any business that collects even anonymous information from EU residents will be subject to GDPR compliance and, in the event of noncompliance, hefty fines”

Compliance will cause some concerns and new expectations of security teams. For example, the GDPR takes a wide view of what constitutes personal identification information. Companies will need the same level of protection for things like an individual’s IP address or cookie data as they do for a name, address and Social Security number.

The two primary GDPR concerns for US companies include:

Cookie Law (consent) – Majority of websites use cookies which are extremely small files, downloaded to your device when you visit a website. Many commercial sites use them including banks, online publishers, blogs or e-commerce serving the purpose of counting the number of visitors and their behavior. We’ve all seen the phrase “by using this website, you accept cookies” or a variation of the statement. It informs the user, but does it give them an alternative? The GDPR looks to change this in the future giving users an informed choice.

Data Permission (protection) – This includes how you manage email opt-ins or people who request to receive promotional material from you. People need to express consent in a ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’ way, which is reinforced by a ‘clear affirmative action’.

For EU based companies, you have even more concerns:

  • Timely Breach Notification – If a security breach occurs, you have 72 hours to report the data breach.
  • Right to Data Access – If users request existing data profile, you must be able to provide them with a fully detailed and free electronic copy of the data you collected.
  • Right to Be Forgotten – Your customers have the right to request that you totally erase their personal data.
  • Data Portability – This gives users rights to their data. They must be able to obtain their data from you and reuse that same data in different environments outside of your company.
  • Privacy by Design – This section of GDPR requires companies to design their systems with the proper security protocols in place from the start.
  • Potential Data Protection Officers – In some cases, your company may need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO).

The GDPR defines several roles that are responsible for ensuring compliance: data controller, data processor and the data protection officer (DPO). The data controller defines how personal data is processed and the purposes for which it is processed. The controller is also responsible for making sure that outside contractors comply.Though the task seems daunting, compliance is extremely important and necessary when moving your company forward.

For more information on how TAG can help your company become compliant, or to request a compliance please visit our website for more information.

TAG Blogging Best Practice Guide

Blogging is an effective way to reinforce your brand and draw audiences to your site. Writing engaging content, using SEO optimization, can bring in a broader audience, largely increasing the number of views to your blog and overall site. Here are some of TAG’s best practices when writing a blog:

Audience- Understanding who your key audience is can assist tremendously in blogging. Writing to a specific audience will engage them and keep them on your site. Incorporate audience data tracking into your content strategy to remain relevant to what your audience is thinking. Consider your audience, try to figure out their problems, then provide the answers they are seeking. Look to industry experts for their input, including quotes and interviews. Garner information on your audience from the experts and you can effectively communicate with them.

Hooking your Audience- You need to catch the eyes of your audience. Your headings need to capture the readers interest, but also make them want to read your blog post. Answering the problem within your heading defeats the purpose of reading your article. A header should never exceed 60 characters. Give the reader a small dose with the heading then further explain in your blog. Create interest in the reader then make them read your blog to find the answer to the question you pose. Using steps or lists is another way to engage your audience.

Content- Quality over quantity. Attention spans are shorter, people need to be drawn in with vivid content. Write engaging copy and grab people’s attention. It is better to compose two well written, thought-out blogs than hastily putting out four sub-par blogs. High-quality content is useful, and by providing your audience with solutions to their problem, your brand will become a helpful resource they look to. Content also includes photos, illustrations, charts, videos and quotes—use visual content to break up text or help better translate your ideas while keeping your readers engaged. Recommended word count has varied over the years, recent trends believe longer blogs tend to receive more views. Average of 500-1000 words is a good starting point, though your main goals are answering user questions and exceeding competitors’ content.

Mediums- People typically think of blogs in the form of written blogs. Any social platform utilizes video so why can’t your blog? Utilize all the tools social media has provided and create a video to include on your blog. Short videos have become a must-have on social media sites and including them in your blogs can attract a new audience.

Consistency- Continually writing your blog will drive more people to see it and keep your usual audience engaged with it. No matter if it is one blog a week or two a month, always putting out content will drive people to your site. Make your brand accountable by producing something week in and week out so your audience expects content.

Search Engine Optimization- If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, get familiar quick, then continue learning about it because it is a constantly shifting and twisting metric. By not optimizing your blog posts you are inhibiting the reach of your audience and growth of the overall blog. Use metrics to improve future blogs, and see which strategies are working. What are the best times to post, word count, and amount of people reading your blog to the end are all questions that can be answered by metrics.

Organization- Creating an organized calendar of content for the month will significantly help your team. Posting blogs or content several times a week can often have overlap or even repeat a topic.  Having a calendar of when and what you are posting for the week or month will reduce clutter, similar posts, and keep your team organized. Always try to include current events or trending topics to keep your content fresh and in the social loop.