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.

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!

ADA Website Compliance

The United States Department of Justice has determined that failing to meet the current “AA” level of WCAG 2.0 violates the equal access rights of those with disabilities or limitations. Lawsuits filed across the nation have resulted in significant verdicts and settlements, disruption in business operations and loss of goodwill. Here are a few lawsuits that have been filed:

  • Target – $6,020,000 settlement
    • 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)
  • H&R Block – $100,000 settlement
    • 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
  • Pizza Hut – Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Dismissal or Stay denied.
    • Robles v. Yum! Brands, Inc.
      Robles v. Yum! Brands, Inc., No. 216CV08211ODWSS, 2018 WL 566781, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2018)
  • 1-800-Flowers – Motion to dismiss denied
    • Gathers v. 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc.
      Gathers v. 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc., No. 17-CV-10273-IT, 2018 WL 839381, at *2 (D. Mass. Feb. 12, 2018)

48.9 million Americans are considered disabled. By making your website compliant, you can make your organization accessible to millions of people. WCAG 2.0 was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the highest authority in web accessibility goals and universal design. Published by W3C, the WCAG 2.0 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is a set of guidelines for making digital content accessible for all users, including those with disabilities. TAG’s developers can make your website compliant with these standards.

Did you miss our recent seminar on online compliance regulations? Watch the full seminar below!

You’ll learn: 

    • What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
    • Who does the ADA apply to?
    • Lessons from recent lawsuits
    • Benefits of a compliant website
    • How is website compliance measured?
    • The new standard: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    • Synopsis: EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
    • Synopsis: Website security

Request a compliance quote from TAG, here.

Web Development Buzzwords: Do You Know What We’re Talking About?

Web Development Buzzwords: Do You Know What We’re Talking About?

Developing a website can be intimidating. Sometimes, it can even seem like web developers are speaking a different language! With the help of our web development experts, we’ve put together a list of 10 development and design terms to help you navigate the world of the web.

Responsive
If a website is responsive, it looks good and functions properly on every device from your desktop, to your phone and anything in between. More and more people are turning to mobile devices to do their Facebook stalking or Googling, so a responsive design is key to having a successful website. For more information on why your website should be responsive, check out this blog post!

“Above the Fold”
If you’re a newspaper reader, you might be familiar with this term already, and it’s pretty easy to understand. When something is “above the fold” it is displayed on your screen without having to scroll. This section is where important pieces of content should be located so that they can’t be missed by website visitors.

Back-End and Front-End
You’ll hear developers refer to the back-end and the front-end of websites. The back-end is the part of the website that visitors do not see, and the front is the part visible to visitors—it’s that simple!

Hosting
A web hosting service is a type of internet service that enables websites to be accessible online, making it available to the public. There are different types of hosting available.

Domain
A domain is the name that the website is branded as. Domains are purchased and can be a combination of letters, numbers and hyphens. For example www.tagteam.agency is a URL, but the domain is tagteam.agency.

Placeholders
In website design, developers and designers often use stock images, video or text while they wait for the content that will actually live on the website. These are referred to as placeholders, and are only used for a limited time until they can be replaced.

Parallax scrolling
Parallax scrolling is a fairly mainstream technique in web design and development.  This refers to the method of moving the background images lower than the foreground images, thereby creating an illusion of depth. Checkout some great examples of parallax scrolling, and get inspired!

Sitemap
Planning out your website’s content can be a difficult task, but it is crucial to its overall success. In order to plan out your content, you’ll need a sitemap. Similarly to your home’s blueprint, a sitemap will help you to plan out the organization of your website.

Wireframe
Like the sitemap, wireframes are done in the early stage of designing. They aren’t very detailed drawings, and are only used to organize content and structures of pages before designing them graphically.

SSL
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layers. It’s a networking protocol used for managing server authentication, client authentication and encrypted communication between servers. SSL keeps sensitive information, like credit card numbers, secure. Without an SSL, data is sent from browsers to web servers in plain text leaving that information vulnerable. Before entering your credit card information, take a look at the URL and make sure it has “https” at the beginning to make sure your information will be secure.

Database
A database is a structured set of data stored in a computer that is organized so that it can be managed, accessed and update easily.

You don’t need to be a web developer to understand some of these web development buzzwords! If your company is ready for a new website, give the experts at TAG a shout!

The Importance of Brand Guidelines

The Importance of Brand Guidelines

Branding guidelines, brand standards, style guides. Whatever you call them, they are an important piece of building your brand. Branding guidelines set a foundation for your brand by creating a framework to operate in that’s consistent no matter what medium you choose.

So what are brand guidelines? Branding guides consist of essential rules for how to craft the visual pieces of your brand including typography, imagery, photography, logo usage, image style and more depending on the size and need of your business. These guidelines should point your communication toward your target audience with a consistent look and feel.

Consistency is vital in maintaining brand integrity. A guideline helps you maintain integrity by maintaining consistency in your branding efforts. And consistency makes you more recognizable in the market, assisting in building the way your brand is perceived. A guide plays an important role in perception. Every touch point between your brand and your audience should be used to reinforce a consistent perception.

Deviating from your guidelines can be harmful to your brand. Straying from your guidelines, be it typeface, color palette or tone, makes it harder to recognize your brand in the market. Not to mention it can make your brand look unprofessional. Consistency among all of your brand’s communications should always be your goal.

It’s easy to think that you can put off creating branding guidelines until a later date, but it’s important to start building that foundation right away. By using brand guidelines, you ensure that there’s an organized, cohesive approach to the points of engagement and communication with your audience that creates consistency in your communication.

At TAG, we recommend brand guidelines to all of our clients. Does your brand need help creating a guideline? Visit our website today to see how we can help grow your brand!

Show me your site map

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, would you?

Building a website requires the same thought, planning and structure as building a house and having a site map before development starts is the easiest way to ensure the website you envisioned is the site that’s produced.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s a site map?” A site map is a document that outlines the structure, or blueprint, of your website, which allows you to visually understand the framework that holds your design and content together.

Site Map Sample

Before you proceed with the design and development of your website, make sure you have a site map in hand. A benefit that TAG offers to our clients, a site map is imperative to your success for three reasons:

Understanding the structure of your website
Where is your contact information stored? What pages have in-bound marketing? How do people find your company history? All of this information is housed on your site map, giving you the ultimate breakdown of how your website is laid out, where to find content and how the end user will experience everything your site offers.

By laying it out from the start, you can be sure everything that needs to be included makes it into the site and avoid surprises or oversights later.

Understanding the functionality of your site
Having a complete understanding of how your website functions is key to knowing how customers will interact with your content. This is especially handy when in-bound marketing is involved. Your site map will show you where in the process your customer will receive a confirmation email when information is submitted, how they connect with your social networks and where they will be presented with opportunities for ecommerce and email marketing.

Having this laid out in the site map in advance forces you to think through and coordinate functions across the site before development is underway so that you and the user get the most out of your site when it’s finished.

Understanding the scope of your project ($$$!)
Let’s face it, dollars matter. The only true way to know that the dollar amount on an estimate matches the work put into your website is to have it all laid out. Remember those potential surprises and oversights that could crop up without a site map? Those can add up over the course of development if the client and developer are on different pages as the site is being built.

For an accurate estimate in terms of time and expense, a site map is a must!

 

TAG saves everyone a headache down the road by taking the time to sit down with our clients and plan out a site map that includes the site structure, functions and scope. Projecting a vision for the site and nailing down the details in a site map is the best way to ensure a quality product that meets and exceeds expectations!

To download our free Web Development Services Checklist and learn more about our web design process, visit our website!