Digital Marketing Solutions for Accessibility

The internet is an absolute necessity in the day-to-day lives of most Americans; it’s the go-to source for virtually everything we do. Unfortunately, with great power comes great inequality. For people with disabilities, inaccessible websites are more than just an inconvenience, they are a form of exclusion. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in four U.S. adults, 61 million people, live with a disability that impacts their major life activities. The number grows for older Americans, of whom two out of five experience a disability. 

For those who market online, it is our duty to make accessibility a priority in our digital marketing solutions. This isn’t just a moral duty – it’s required by law… well, kind of. 

Legal Requirements

Since its passing in July of 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has functioned to the best of its ability to create a more equitable nation for all people, regardless of ability. The passing of the ADA was a huge step for the disability rights movement, as it “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” Unfortunately, the ADA was created without the ~modern~ internet in mind. To this day, there are almost no legal specifications for internet accessibility, only that sites must be ‘accessible’. That’s where The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) come into play. 


While WCAG guides are not the law for private companies, they are considered the ‘gold standard’ for website accessibility. Failure to meet the WCAG guides means a website is not accessible to everyone who may want to interact with it, which could result in bad press, lost clients or even a lawsuit. WCAG presents four basic principles that must be met for your digital marketing solutions to be considered accessible:


“Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.”

In short, this means that the information being given needs to be consumable for people of all abilities. 

The WCAG provides four guidelines for ensuring that a site is perceivable:

  1. Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
  2. Provide alternatives for time-based media.
  3. Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
  4. Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.


“User interface components and navigation must be operable.”

Website interfaces cannot require interactions that not all users can perform – they need to be navigable and responsive for all.

The WCAG provides four guidelines for ensuring that a site is operable:

  1. Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  2. Provide users enough time to read and use the content.
  3. Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
  4. Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.


“Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.”

The information presented and how to navigate the website must be apparent and easy to comprehend for people of all abilities. 

The WCAG provides three guidelines for ensuring that a site is understandable:

  1. Make text content readable and understandable.
  2. Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
  3. Help users avoid and correct mistakes.


“Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.”

This is a common accessibility concern for people with sight impairments who may use screen readers or other alternative methods to read information. A robust website is paramount to your digital marketing solutions, and it must work for adaptive technology now and as that technology evolves.

The WCAG provides one guideline for ensuring that a site is robust:

  1.  Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

Accessibility Makes a Better User Experience for Everyone

Accessibility features are crucial for those who need them, and they can make your site more enjoyable for people without disabilities as well. In fact, many tech features that have become a part of the zeitgeist are founded on assistive technologies. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these features the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) points out: 

Video Captions

Video captions are crucial for people with hearing impairments to watch videos. There are also many other circumstances where closed captions let viewers understand a video they otherwise could not. Video captions are helpful if you have different learning styles, are in a loud place, if you forgot your headphones, etc.. 

High Contrast Colors 

Using high contrast colors makes your design easier to spot and read for everyone, especially for those who have difficulty seeing low contrast colors, which is common for older people. Using high contrast colors also makes viewing your work easier for people who are in bright light (and makes for better-looking design in general).

Voice Recognition 

Voice recognition is an absolutely necessary tool for many people who are unable to type. It is also very useful for slow typers, people who think out loud, and people with temporary disabilities such as a broken arm. If you can’t think of a time when you’ve used voice recognition technology, just ask Siri or Alexa.

Text to Speech 

This technology is very useful for sight-impaired folk, people with dyslexia, and anyone who prefers listening to reading (maybe listening while on a walk or doing chores).

Good Layouts 

Inconsistent layouts can make a page impossibly confusing to navigate and read for people with sight impairments – and in general, no one likes bad design.

Large Buttons and Links 

For older folk or people with decreased dexterity, having buttons and links that are large enough to actually click is important. We’ve seen this adaption come into mainstream with the birth of mobile apps, which need larger buttons due to the fact that most people are clicking them with their fingers instead of a keypad. 

Customizable Text 

This feature is crucial for many people. It allows the user to change the text to other fonts, sizes, and colors that are more legible to the user. This is important for anyone who has preferences on the format of what they are reading.

Netflix: What Not to Do

In 2011, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sued Netflix for violation of the ADA. Until this point, Netflix had failed to include closed captioning on its streaming services, claiming that as a business, they were not a “place of public accommodation,” and therefore not required to adhere to ADA guidelines. While technically the ADA does not detail how internet services should be accounted for, Netflix is such an influential piece of the modern world that it needs to be equally accessible to everyone. Since nearly 60% of Americans use Netflix, lack of accessibility to the hard of hearing is ultimately discrimination. The courts agreed:

“In a society in which business is increasingly conducted online, excluding businesses that sell services through the internet from the ADA would run afoul of the purpose of the ADA. It would severely frustrate Congress’s intent that individuals with disabilities fully enjoy the goods, services, privileges, and advantages available indiscriminately to other members of the general public.” – Judge Ponsor 

Netflix was ordered to caption its entire collection of videos by 2014, and to caption all videos published in the following years. Netflix also paid the NAD $755,000 to cover legal fees and damages. This is a testament to the importance of including accessibility in your digital marketing solutions; if a company as strong as Netflix can’t slither around the rules, it’s doubtful anyone else can either. 

Closing Statements

Making websites, or any online media, accessible to all people is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the best thing to do for your business. Excluding people with disabilities from being able to use your site means excluding potential paying customers. An extraordinarily designed site, I’m talking about accessibility features far beyond those legally required, can not only create a more inclusive space but set you apart as a company with exceptional user experience. 

Many accessibility features are easy to implement yourself, but often, it requires advanced coding abilities to go above and beyond. If you want to prioritize accessibility in your digital marketing solutions, don’t feel daunted – give us a call at Brandcave, we can handle it for you. 

5 Unique Web Design Hacks to Improve Your User Experience

Article by Tanner Rogers

Recently, I took a field trip with the rest of the Brandcave team to Downtown Austin during SXSW Interactive. For nerds like me, nirvana can be reached during interactive week. All across the city, different live forums, speeches and events are held for startups and enterprise companies alike. From talks on building brands to creating a “Secret Sauce” for small businesses, interactive week is a great way to learn from leading experts in business.

We spent the majority of our day sitting in on a string of lectures on User Experience (UX) and User Research hosted by General Assembly. These lectures were taught by a wide range of stellar UX consultants including CEOs, brand managers and even members of the IBM Design team. Although it soon became clear to me that UX is much bigger than app and web design, I couldn’t help but think of several unique web design hacks that could dramatically improve your visitor’s experience. Here’s what I learned:

1. Distill Complexity

Simplicity is the end goal of any design and that sentiment leaks into how we build for the web. Behind every great website is an intricate and complicated concept that has been distilled into a clear, concise message. When a visitor lands on your homepage, for example, they should be able to understand 1) who you are, 2) what you do and 3) how it affects customers within the first three seconds. That’s the rule of thumb. If the message isn’t clear enough, it needs to be revised. So, how do you know if your message is clear enough? Well, you could pay this guy to get drunk and tell you.

Behind every great website is an intricate and complicated concept that has been distilled into a clear, concise message.

Not every visitor on your site is going to be an expert in web experiences, so making your site clear allows more visitors to feel comfortable with using your site. Bad user experience begins with confusing layout, content and navigation.

2. Create Digital Sales Funnels

How do you improve user experience? You encourage the user to go deeper. That’s the mission of a call to action (CTA). Calls to action provide an opportunity for the user to take their next step, whatever it is, and move down the sales funnel. Whether their next step is visiting another page, subscribing to a newsletter, requesting a demo or downloading an eBook, every page should end with a clear call to action.

Of course, there’s a psychology to clear call to actions. They should stand out from the rest of the website’s design in a clear visual hierarchy. They can often appear as buttons, inline text or even a strategically placed pop-up. Can they have the potential to be annoying? Absolutely. But, they’re meant to disrupt the user’s progression through the site. Done correctly, however, the user should feel like it is the next logical step through your website.

3. Make it Useful For Everyone

Valeria Spirovski, an experience designer for ThoughtWorks, wrote a fantastic blog comparing Pixar storytelling and UX. In it, she wrote “it’s hard to understand the perspective of a layperson when you’re in the position of expert.”

That’s dead on. Naturally, some of your website’s visitors are not going to be industry experts. Because of this, it’s important to create a site that’s useful for every person in the sales funnel.

When examining your own site, attempt to put yourself in the position of every possible visitor. Maybe they know their industry well but they aren’t aware of the industry’s contemporary technology. Maybe they’re an industry expert who is comparing technical specs between you and your competitors. Whoever it is, the site should be useful for them.

How do you do this? Define terms, avoid acronyms and industry jargon, make your visitors understand your product at it’s most basic and intricate levels. Consider the user who has visited your site once and the user who has returned three or four times. Create opportunities to target visitors at different parts of the sales funnel.

4. Drop Stock Photos and Hire a Photographer

Why should you invest in a professional photographer? Because real photos on your website can improve your user’s experience. And, let’s face it, stock photos don’t accomplish much. Real photos of your team in action, in their office, with customers or together at lunch can help your audience connect with your company on a personal level. Research shows that seeing someone’s face can have a dramatic effect on how you view and understand that person.

Spending the time and money on a professional photographer will pay off when your customers see your website as genuine and relatable. Professional pictures of you, your team, and your capabilities shows the real you, not some contrived version of you.

5. Conduct User Research

Do you understand your visitors? Probably not as well as you think you do. It is crucial to ask for feedback on your website because, at the root of user experience is user research, not domain expertise.

Liya James, Creative Director of Idean Austin, spoke at SXSW about lean user research. She described it as “research you do with existing or potential customers as a way to get rid of assumption while identifying needs.” Beyond A/B testing, surveys and drunk testing, Liya suggested performing sit down interviews with existing customers. She encourages companies to embrace genuine conversation with customers by asking who they are and how their problems could be solved.

… At the root of user experience is user research, not domain expertise.

If you’re the founder of your company, do you remember when you validated the idea for your business? How much research did you have to do? Why would we think that we could make a great user experience on our website without the same amount of care and attention?

Unique Web Design

Building a Unique Web Design

User experience is not solidified. There is no clear-cut definition of it, but it is clear that positive user experience begins with a unique web design. Understand your customer, get to know who they are, work to fix their problems and fulfill their needs. As for Brandcave, we desire to know you before we know your vision. Give us a call. We would love to meet you.

6 SXSW Flatstock Artists Talk Design and Inspiration

If you stopped by the Austin Convention Center during SXSW this year, you might have noticed the artwork of Flatstock 48, which filled the exhibit hall like tiles in the world’s greatest mosaic.

Before the kind officials asked us to leave, we visited the booths of several incredibly talented illustrators to film their opinions on design and inspiration. Among them, we spoke with Tim Doyle, Rosie Lea, Aaron Eiland, Justin Santora, Dirk Fowler and Sean Mort. As a fellow group of makers, we were curious how these creative powerhouses continue to inspire and perfect their craft. More than that, we wanted to hear firsthand what they considered to be good design.

Designers are a different breed of people. Slouched in their chairs with often glazed over expressions, these unassuming figures came to life the moment they were engaged. Although exhausted from days of travel and conferencing, they were more than happy to spend a few minutes chatting with us.

One might have expected a conversation about good design to be centered around art theory, aesthetics or proper technique. It wasn’t. They weren’t concerned about following rules as much as they were about working intuitively. This is a rare ability and for me, it seemed almost superhuman. To these creatives, it seemed, good design is more about purpose and self-expression than it is about catering to established traditions or, for that matter, anyone. For most creatives, this kind of way of living is a luxury. Perhaps, it is one we give away too easily.

For most, I suppose, SXSW is a two-week bender of music, film and, of course, free Miller Lite. For us, it was that, but it was also much more. The wonderful artists at Flatstock reminded us of our purpose as creators. It encouraged us to take creative risks and to challenge ourselves more. We’re thankful for that.

As Justin Santora told me off camera, “I hope that I don’t come to a place where I think I’ve learned it all.”

Below is the manuscript of each artist.

On Inspiration

Dirk Fowler

“How do I inspire myself? I just draw a lot. I have three kids so my kids inspire me. I just make things. I’m interested in making things. Being in this room is inspiring. Look around. If you can’t be inspired by what you see then I would question that.”

Tim Doyle

“Alcohol? Lack of Sleep? Caffeine? I don’t know. My brain’s been wired that way for so long. When I was a kid, I was always drawing and creating stuff.”

Justin Santora

“[It’s] the things that inform my world view. Politically, culturally, ethically. Those all factor into what inspires me as well as the technical level of trying to keep up with my friends, who are just really gifted and talented people.”

Rosie Lea

“Well, I read and listen to music as much as I can. Obviously, doing gig posters you have to listen to music.

Sean Mort

“By listening to music, watching films or pop-culture. The kind of things that are really in front of me, really. I just feed on it all.”

Aaron Eiland

“A lot of times, if I get a commission from a different performer, I’ll look at their previous posters and the previous work they’ve put out and try to do something that’s different from anything else they’ve done before. I want them to have a unique voice for that particular show and not just have the same thing over and over again.”

On Design

Dirk Fowler

“What is good design? For me, good design is just something that makes you think. It doesn’t have to give you all the answers. It’s something that attracts you and [makes you] want to spend some time with it.”

Justin Santora

“I guess good design is an intersection of conceptual and visual, where it stirs the proper response with the intended audience.”

Tim Doyle

“You know, I’m slightly OCD so things have to look balanced or else it bothers me. It’s like, everything in its place and a place for everything on the page. As long as I feel calm while looking a piece. It’s like, ‘well, that, that works.’ I can’t tell you, ‘this is what good design is!’ because it changes drastically from decade to decade. You look at stuff from the fifties, it doesn’t look like stuff from the seventies. Stuff from the seventies doesn’t look like stuff from the nineties. I will say, bad design is whatever happened in the nineties.”

Aaron Eiland

“Anything that has some sort of unique voice and communicates some sort of idea or message, in my opinion. The difference between fine art and design, I would say, is that there’s always a purpose or a message to it. I think anything that achieves that is considered good design.”

Rosie Lea

“It’s always good when it shows something about yourself. It’s something personal and genuine. It attracts people’s attention, makes people happy and creates something visually pleasing. It makes people go like, ‘oh, that’s so nice!'”

Sean Mort

“I think it’s so personal. That’s the thing. For me, good design is just being able to look at something and fall in love with it straight away. I like the subtleties of things. I like to be able to look at something over and over again and see different things in it all the time. I think it’s so different for different people and that’s what a show like this shows you. Because, there are so many people who aren’t into my kind of thing or the next thing, might fall in love with the next thing. I just think it’s so broad, the spectrum of it. That’s what I love about it. Good design for me, is just whatever speaks to you personally and for me it just so happens to be this kind of work.”