Basics of Inclusive Design

It’s important for designers to take on a position of social responsibility when it comes to inclusive design. It is easy to forget about the limitations of a system or service design and get lost in our own biases. Inclusive design expands your business potential  reach to include those whose needs are not represented in traditional audience segments.  Utilizing an inclusive design strategy when designing your website and other digital brand materials gives your business the ability to reach a wider audience, and to meet the needs of those who have non traditional ways of interacting with your site design.

Here are the basics of inclusive design and how to get started with integrating it into your design strategy.

Inclusive Design Vs. Accessible Design

Although they are closely related, inclusive design is not the same as accessible design. Inclusive design focuses on the process of creating a design that can be used by a diverse group of people. While, accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. 

Both types of design thinking have a target goal of creating and finding solutions for the largest possible group of people.  Accessible design can be  seen as a piece of inclusive design. Inclusive design is the overarching concept of creating a design for a diverse group of people while accessible design looks at the specific needs and barriers of users who might not have access to a typical design. While one is part of the other they are not synonymous.

Where Inclusive Design & Accessible Design Overlap

For digital designers specifically, inclusive design looks at the diversity of experience that may exclude some people from using an interface effectively. Designers have to imagine different circumstances in which a user is excluded from using their products or services. Users who need inclusive design run into barriers that were initially created by those who were designing only for people who do not have barriers. When designers seek out and try to fix these inclusivity issues, they also address accessibility issues as well.

For example,text-to-speech audio is where inclusive and accessible design meet. This solution addresses both people who may have a disability, and those who are in a situation where they cannot or do not want to read. It is not uncommon for situational and ability-based impairments to produce overlapping pain points and user needs.

Designers should be aiming to create experiences that are all-inclusive. This means taking into consideration those who are outside of a target demographic, those with disabilities, those in particular environments with differing abilities, and other unique circumstances. Look for cases of exclusion to address that are about context and ability.

Email and text messages were initially created to include those with disabilities. Now these features are used by everyone and include elements of inclusive design. Creating design solutions that are both inclusive and accessible can change the way we all interact.

A Visual Of The Differences Between Permanent, Temporary and Situational Disabilities

It takes time and effort to create with all of these factors in mind. But it is always worth it in the end to make customers happy and to keep up with competitors. It has become standard practice for businesses such as Microsoft and IBM to utilize inclusive design in all their work.

How Can Designers Incorporate Principles of Inclusivity Into Their Designs

The opposite of inclusive is exclusive, and logic follows that those who exclude customers lose those customers.

A place to start is by imagining the context or environment in which your user is interacting with this design experience. What is the user doing at that moment and what is their end goal? Where are they and what are the environmental factors? These are vital things to keep in mind to ensure that you are covering all the bases. Finding solutions that apply to certain scenarios may also apply to much broader audiences.

a visual of different looking people in the same location

How to Recognize Exclusion In Design

Although there is no clear way to begin, a common way of starting to implement  inclusive design is by recognizing exclusion in the first place. Listen and learn from one’s audience, then find and tackle the issues that you can control. Make sure you listen to all perspectives early and often. Designers should be thinking about inclusivity from start to finish. Don’t make inclusive design an afterthought. Imagine the challenges it would bring to make these changes after a project is almost complete.

Being proactive in identifying points of exclusion is essential in integrating an inclusive design. Take the time to understand how users are actually using your site and how those who cannot see, hear or type may be excluded from using your site due to limitations with design. Understanding where they are being excluded is the beginning of recognizing exclusion in your design. From there you can begin to adjust and include features for those identified users. These can turn into steps in your process of making all designs inclusive.

Ready to Get Started with Inclusive Design?

By taking the time to really think about inclusivity in your designs, you are opening up doors to more users, new markets, and bettering your own design practices along the way. It is all about how personal attributes are shaping the market of your product or service. Make sure that you are watching and listening to a diverse range of people, then develop your roadmap for design, development, and production.

Looking for a team that has experienced designers who are open-minded and listen to your needs? We’ve got the solution for that. Connect with our team today to get started.

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    Surviving Your First 90 Days as a New Developer: Top 5 Tips

    Landing your first job as a developer is exciting, but it can also be scary diving into a new career. You’ve been through months, sometimes even years, of learning and practicing all to land your first job. Your first day of work is finally here, you are feeling nervous, your confidence is low, and imposter syndrome kicks in. It’s completely normal to feel nervous – I know I was for my first day. As a new developer working at a digital agency, here are the top 5 tips I have learned in my first 90 days that have helped me.

    5 Tips To Help New Developers

    1. Communication

    I used to think that being a developer was sitting at a desk all day just coding. I couldn’t have been more wrong in that assumption. Communication is a big part of being a developer. You have to be able to communicate effectively with your clients and with your team. 

    As a new (and even as a veteran!) developer it is very important to communicate if, and when, you need help. Don’t pretend to know everything – everyone was new once and even your senior developers don’t know everything!. Communicate with your senior developer(s) and ask a lot of questions! Don’t be afraid to be the newbie – be confident to ask the right questions to get the information you need to succeed at your tasks

    2. Keep Learning

    No matter how much you think you know, how many certificates you’ve acquired, and courses you’ve completed –  you will never be done learning. Thinking that you have nothing left to learn is a dangerous mentality for any developer, especially a new developer. 

    There is so much to learn in the world of web development and technology as a whole. In the world of tech, things are constantly changing and improving. As new technologies and frameworks are released, you’ll have to keep yourself informed to remain competitive and able to provide solutions for your clients that meet current industry standards. 

    Jump into Stack Overflow and GitHub to find the answers to questions you have, or just to scan through the questions other developers are asking. Develop a reading list of industry blogs and magazines. Take a course on new technology. Most importantly – code every day!  

    Here are some resources I like to keep my knowledge up to date:

    3. Tools You Need (And Should Get Good At!)

    Every agency will have different tools and processes that they prefer – but there are a couple of tools that I wish I had a better grasp on before starting my first development job. 

    Code editors –  

    As a developer, you’ll be writing a lot of code, so a proper code editor is a must. The code editor can make a big difference when you’re writing code. It will ease your life as a developer by helping easily navigate and edit code, especially if you learn the keyboard shortcuts to make coding a project just a bit faster. I love to use VS Code, here are some Keyboard shortcuts for VS Code.

    Command line/Terminal – 

    Command-line experience is a must for a developer.

    A lot of your work will be dependent on the command line (git), as well as some technologies requiring you to have command-line knowledge. There will be only a few commands that you’ll have to memorize and as much as you will end up using them, you won’t have a problem memorizing them. For everything else, there’s always our best friend – Google.

    Browser Dev Tool –

    You should be proficient with different browser’s Dev Tool or Developer Tools. Being a web developer is not only about writing code or working with the command line. But also debugging!

    My favorite browser to work with is Chrome. Here is the complete documentation on Dev Tools for Google Chrome.

    4. Stay Organized (Good Planning)

    Organizational skills and good planning can help you save a lot of time, reduce stress when the deadline is approaching, and help you finish on time every day. Making a simple project-based to-do list will allow you to: stay organized, keep your head clear and focus on the task at hand, highlight any roadblocks early, and easily keep your senior developers, managers, and clients in the loop. As the old saying goes – proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance!

    Here are a couple of tools I like to help keep me organized:

    • Trello
    • Note – VS Code extension
    • Notion
    • And of course….when all else fails, pen and paper!

    5. Be Confident

    It’s sometimes easier said than done to remain confident as a new developer – but being confident in the skills/knowledge you do have, and confident in asking questions about the ones you don’t is key to success.

    Stay open to all the new things and be willing to make an effort to explore and understand them. Being a great developer takes time and consistent effort. Be confident in knowing you will reach that senior developer level if you keep practicing, learning, and asking questions.

    Come Code With Us!

    Are you a developer looking for your next opportunity? Check out our job openings – we’d love to have you on our growing development team.

    Are you a client looking for a rockstar development team to provide you with the solutions that will help take your website to new heights? Connect with our sales and strategy team today.

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      What to Expect When Working with the Solution Agency Development Team

      Getting started working with a new development team at a digital agency that your team has never worked with before can seem daunting. You want to make sure that you are getting a development team that is going to take the right approach to ultimately meet your development goals. A team that is agile, and able to work easily with your internal teams is key for most clients.

      Our goal at Solution Agency is to constantly be learning, adapting, and fine-tuning our approach to both our development process and our project management process. Not to mention – making sure we are staying up to date with the latest development trends and technologies to provide you with solutions that are relevant and meet industry standards.

      Curious about what it might be like if you choose Solution Agency as your development partner? Read on…we are going to break down our core development services, how we manage those internally, and how the development team interfaces with our other in-house teams to deliver successful results for every client.

      What Types of Development Projects Does Solution Agency Work On? And HOW Do We Work On Them….

      Full Development Projects

      A full development project encompasses anything from new site builds website site redesigns, implementation of new site functionality, and more. Basically – anything that is not an emergency support request or ongoing site maintenance. These projects are our bread and butter – we love to help our clients build (or rebuild!) their websites into something functional and beautiful that will help them reach their digital goals.

      Managing Full Development Projects

      Full development projects are typically the hardest type to manage. There are a lot of moving parts to full development projects, and depending on the project timelines can be lengthy. Full development projects require a consistent approach from the very start of the project to ensure that our development team, and the client’s internal team (your team!), stay aligned in terms of goals and expectations.

      Don’t worry though – with over 15 years of web development experience, we make sure our process is easy to follow and clearly outlines the expectations every step of the way. Here is how we breakdown the phases of our full development projects:

      Phase 1: Strategy, Technical Discovery and Sitemap/Content Mapping

      The first phase in any full development project is the discovery phase. The discovery phase allows our team to accomplish a couple of key things before we actually begin development including:

      • Understanding your brand’s goals and industry positioning.
      • Collecting your brand’s assets and guidelines – think colors, logos, font styles, and more.
      • Understanding the technical needs (and constraints) of the website. Defining the technologies, frameworks and third party integrations that will be used. For example, does your site need a booking plugin integration? How will that work from a technical standpoint and a user experience perspective?
      • Outlining any specific WordPress backend customizations needed for ease of updating the website longterm.
      • Reviewing any previous website analytics to determine visitor device usage, traffic sources, etc. that may influence end design and responsiveness.
      • Working with the client to determine key content pages, keywords, CTA and messaging used throughout the website. This helps us begin building our initial user flow/sitemaps and content maps.

      We devote a considerable amount of time to this strategy and discovery phase as this phase is crucial to the success of every team that will be working on the project and informs the design and development decisions we make moving forward. 

      The bigger the project – the more time is needed to devote to the management of discovery and strategy. You can expect this to be a highly collaborative phase, between not only our internal teams but with you – the client – to make sure that all of the information we are collecting is correct and aligns with your end goals.

      The end goal of this phase is to gather and record all of the information needed to actually begin the execution of your project. This phase sets every team – not just our development team – up for the successful completion of your project.

      Phase 2: Design

      Most – if not all – full development projects include some sort of design phase. During this phase, our in-house design team will begin to leverage the materials gathered in phase one to start designing your website look and feel concepts.

      While we won’t dive into all the nuts and bolts of the design phase – this article is mainly focused on development team processes – during this phase you can expect our design team to build out a series of page templates, and mobile templates that our developers will use as the basis to begin building your website.

      Our development team likes to be a part of the design conversation and review all designs prior to client review, to confirm that the designs can be executed as expected.

      Phase 3: Development

      After completion and sign-off of the design phase, we start phase three – the development phase. This is where we begin actually building your website – and where the process really starts to get exciting, as things become functional and you see your vision come to life.

      The Solution Agency development team primarily focuses on custom WordPress development. No two sites are the same – and you won’t see any premade or out-of-the-box themes used here. As such, each development phase is going to look a little different depending on the client’s needs and build goals.

      Once we are in phase three, we’ve got our technical strategy, sitemaps, content maps, and site design hammered out. The development process begins with setting up our development environment on our servers. This development environment is our testing grounds and is completely password protected and non-indexable so that our team (and your team!) can work on, and review the site before it goes live for the world to see.

      Once the development environment is set up – we always start with the basics. Building out the core UI of the site (items like headers and footers). From there we start developing the global styles (items like typography, vertical spacing, button styles, etc) and page templates – providing us with a consistent base to load content and specific functionality components into.

      A typical full development timeline might look something like this:

      1. Set up the development environment.
      2. Build base UI and global styles.
      3. Build page templates.
      4. Input website content.
      5. Build any custom functionality and integrate third party plugins or eCommerce functionality.
      6. Present to the client for review and revise as needed.
      7. Client approval to head into QA testing and launch preparations.

      Phase 4: QA Testing & Launch Preparation 

      Once the client has approved the website development in phase three, we move on to phase four: QA testing and launch preparations. In this phase, the Solution Agency development team will do a thorough review of all the website pages and functionality. Looking specifically for UI/UX issues that need to be addressed before the website launches.

      QA testing involves a manual process of clicking around every single page of the website, testing all contact forms, search functionality, plugins, and other third-party integrations. Anything an actual viewer on your website might do – we test it to make sure it works correctly. We also test the website on a variety of popular modern devices, browsers, and screen sizes to ensure that the experience remains consistent for every type of user.

      During phase four we review site performance, utilizing Google developer performance and speed testing tools to assure that our websites meet current performance standards. 

      At the end of phase four, we work with our digital marketing team to ensure that the SEO basics (as listed in your SOW) are met before the site launches. This might include items like:

      • Connecting Google Analytics
      • Connecting Google Search Console
      • Basic on-page SEO optimizations:
        • Meta titles
        • Meta descriptions
        • Alt tags on images
        • H structure
      • Set up any 301 redirects as needed
      • Configuration of Yoast SEO plugin

      Once our development team has completed the QA phase, we then pass the website on to the client for a final review before we take the website live.

      Phase 5: Launch

      The launch is the most exciting phase for most clients – this is when our development team takes your website live on the internet for the world to see. 

      A lot can go into a launch process – and each site is different – so we won’t be detailing all of the launch steps in this article. However, you can expect a couple of things after we have launched your new website including:

      • Immediate installation of SSL certificate
      • Submission of final sitemap to Google Search Console
      • Final review of website functionality and 301 redirects, immediate fix of any post-launch issues.
      • A 2-hour virtual WordPress training for your team to make website content updates (if requested)

      Okay…but what if I don’t need a full development project? What other development services does your team offer?

      We’re happy you asked – our development team also handles support requests and ongoing website support services.

      Support Requests & On-Going Support Services

      What is website support?

      Anything from an existing client regarding a site we made for them (or one we inherited). This could be a report of an issue, a request for a new page, a request for a menu change, content changes, etc.

      What is the most crucial aspect to successful support services?

      Communication. We always aim to let a client know an estimate, target start/end date, and any potential challenges we anticipate. Communication is key to a successful support relationship.

      How does our development team manage support services?

      We have a quick 30-min huddle every morning to make sure that our team is always aligned on support request timelines, and to review new support requests that come in. We use project management software to track the hourly progress, from estimate to confirmation, and that the request is completed as expected. 

      Every new approved task (or set of tasks) is entered into our project management software as a new support project. This allows budgets, due dates, and notifications to be set on a granular project level. This provides a system for making sure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle and allows for easy billing transparency (something our clients enjoy!).

      Support requests are a shared responsibility that our entire development team takes on. Our goal is to get tasks in and out efficiently and correctly. With clearly defined estimates, start and stop dates – our clients always know what to expect from our development support services so they can plan accordingly.

      The Development Solution You’ve Been Waiting For

      We believe in our processes, and tools – but what makes our development team a success is the people on it. Our combined experience and ability to work in unison as a cohesive team is what sets our web development services apart from the rest.

      Ready to get started on your next development project? Need some development support? We’ve got the solution you need – from big to small our developers can tackle it all – connect with our team today.

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