Category Archives: Start Ups

Why you should care about website accessibility

For a lot of companies, the accessibility of their website is a factor that features much further down the list than a lot of other required or desirable factors.

On the surface, configuring your site so it can be used by those with additional needs might seem like a lot of work for little reward – but when you realise that 8.5 million people in the UK are registered as having a disability, not ensuring access for all can have a big business impact.

To understand why accessibility is vital, it’s important to understand what it means for a website… We recently caught up with the amazing team over at Think Zap who are a team of Glasgow web designers, here is what they had to say about website accessibility, and what it means for your business!

What does accessibility mean?

For lots of people, the term accessibility conjures images of ramps, lifts and dropped curbs that allow easy wheelchair access to a building – and while correct, both the architectural application and the image of a wheelchair user put too narrow a meaning on the term.

Accessibility extends to any ‘occupation’ – that’s to say any task or action that a person may want or need to undertake – and the term ‘disabled’ or someone with ‘disabilities’ extends well beyond physical limitations – and into issues relating to differing cognition, mental function and sensory needs.

So, in website terms, it’s useful to think of ‘accessibility’ as simply making the site accessible and useable for anyone – regardless of any impairment, reduced ability or external conditions.

A broad spectrum

A broader look at the population’s range of abilities sees a wide variety of conditions that should be accounted for in web design:

  • Visual issues – including people who are blind, have reduced vision, colour blindness or sensory sensitivity to colours and light levels.
  • Auditory issues – people who are deaf, have a reduced range hearing – or have sensory issues that relate to particular noises and pitch levels.
  • Physical issues – including musculoskeletal issues leading to reduced movement, any inability to use limbs that ruling out standard device control methods and any cognitive issues leading to difficulties in movement.
  • Learning disabilities – leading to issues with movement, understanding of content and ability to interact with devices.
  • Autistic spectrum conditions – resulting in sensitivities to site design, colours and noises.

Environmental limitations

While we tend to think about accessibility as being human conditions that limit access to sites, there are also environmental conditions that can limit a person’s ability to access and use a website:

  • Old technology that doesn’t cater for the latest design features
  • Speech driven search and browsing owing to user’s situation
  • Limited network speed
  • Working in areas of high noise or light interference

Benefits of accessibility

Before considering any business benefits, there’s a significant moral and ethical argument for ensuring accessibility for people of all abilities and in all conditions.

A great deal of companies put their ethical responsibilities before any business considerations – and this should always be taken into consideration when something as significant as a company’s web presence is in question.

Limiting access can damage your reputation

Social media makes it extremely easy for your bad decisions around accessibility of a site to become a much more widely publicised problem than you would intend. Your decision to limit accessibility is not shared by social media platforms – meaning you can make it hard for people to use your service – but you can’t stop people telling the world about your ethical shortcuts!

The law

While there haven’t been any significant cases against which precedent can be set, limiting people’s use of your website based on your ineffective design could find you in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Effectively, neglecting to provide a service to a disabled person that is otherwise accessible to others is unlawful discrimination. This principle applies regardless of the type of organisation you are or the service that you offer.

Business considerations

Even if ethics take a backseat to cold business decisions, the numbers that drive accessibility should speak for themselves. 8.5 million people in the UK are registered as being disabled – with an additional unknown number handling access issues without medical support.

8.5 million people represents more than 10% of the population of the UK. If your company decides that accessibility isn’t a priority, they’re effectively turning away 1 in every 10 customers who try to access the business online – the web version of door security turning away every tenth customer who tries to enter a shop! A stark image, but effectively the same.

What does accessibility look like?

There are hundreds of possible adaptations that allow equal access to your website – although they tend to break down into categories:

  • For people with limited vision: Adaptations should be made/available for colours, contrasts, text size and font type, i.e. text should scale up without losing quality or readability.
  • For people with no vision: Consideration should be given to how the page is presented and how a screen-reader would interpret the different elements. This should include image alt tags, title tags for links and audio descriptions for any video or animation content.
  • For people with limited hearing: If you have audio content on the page can it be represented graphically? I.e. closed captions or subtitles – or signing alongside video.
  • For people who have physical restrictions: Does your site offer feasible control options via the keyboard? Do you allow forms and fields to be autocompleted?
  • For those with learning difficulties or disabilities: Is you content easy to comprehend? Is it broken down so it can be read by people who might struggle with large blocks of text? Is your site compatible with software that will read text aloud?

Meet customer’s needs

It’s a fundamental for business owners everywhere; build a product or service that answers a market need. To think that a huge number of those same business owners then have websites developed that preclude their business, product or service from many of the customers they are trying to find is unfathomable.

Accessibility means you’re:

  • Abiding by the law – and getting a significant head start on any further legal changes should they occur
  • Accessing extensions to virtually every demographic – with a collective spending power of £100billion+
  • Creating a site that is more useable and friendly to all – not just those from whom accessibility is a must.

These are the kind of goals that marketing teams work for hundreds of hours to achieve. Save yourself your hassle by putting website accessibility at the top of your to-do list.

 

 

A Ten Point Checklist to Startup Funding in 2017

Image result for startup

There are many avenues of capital available when starting a business such as a loan from https://oinkmoney.com/, but regardless of the route we take, we need to ensure that we have our financial affairs in order when it comes to our startup. Evidently, there can be a lot to remember, which is why it can be helpful to use a checklist.

  1. Complete Your Business Plan

While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s worth enforcing how important your business plan is. Not only does it allow you to look at the financial commitments of your startup, but it also serves as a guide as to how your business will operate as a whole.

It will also give any potential lenders or investors an overview of how your business operates, and what methods are used when it comes to acquiring customers. This will ensure you’re portraying a more robust vision of the company and its business goals.

  1. Research the Market

Another point that may seem a little obvious, but it can be easy to assume we have a viable business model simply based on how many businesses are placed within the industry.

However, you should look at what competitor’s solutions are lacking, and what can be brought to the table with the introduction of your business. This could be something as simple as amazing after-sale service, or something as complex as a new piece of software that automates an otherwise time-consuming task.

Knowing what services are already available, as well as ascertaining what customers are looking for puts you in a prime position to meet their needs.

  1. Monitor Your Incomings and Outgoings

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a loan or an investment, you should be in full control of your business expenses. This means looking for cost-effective solutions where possible, and ensuring that these can be paid on time without having a detrimental effect on other aspects of the business.

When operating a startup, the costs involved can be very low if you’re willing to carry out the research. It also ensures that you have to borrow less should any further capital be required, which is more cost-effective.

  1. Protect the Legal Aspects of Your Startup

Depending on the nature of your startup, it will often be the case that some form of legality will be involved. This could be anything from the contract you give to the customer, to the service itself.

Many are able to stay abreast of any legalities simply be following the relevant news platforms. However, if you do find you’re scratching your head in some respects, then you should consider the services of a legal expert.

Granted, it can be costlier upfront, but having a contract not worth the paper it’s written on can be much more detrimental overall.

  1. Keep Up to Date with Paperwork

When running a business, dealing with paperwork can seem like a task that’s of very little importance, but quite often the opposite is true.

Any correspondence sent in relation to your startup should be dealt with in the first instance. It can be too easy to put such task to one side, but if Government bodies such as the HMRC don’t receive paperwork on time, it will often issue fines as a result.

  1. Become Familiar with Your Tax Incentives

Paying tax is part and parcel of operating a business, but that doesn’t mean we should pay more than we have to.

If you have to purchase equipment or stationary for the business, then ensure you keep the receipts. This will reduce your tax liability for the financial year, as you won’t be taxed on income that has been used for the business.

  1. Protect Your Intellectual Property

While many businesses are similar, there will be those that have an idea that can offer something new, but this means it can be open to theft. While falling in line with the legal aspects of your startup, you should look to ensure that your business’s IP is trademarked so you’re not subjected to any inferior imposters looking to cash in on your idea.

  1. Register a Website

Having your idea down on paper is a great idea, but it can mean that it’s inaccessible to some. Having a website allows you to give out an overview of your business with one click. This is an ideal complement to your business plan, and it allows people to really look at what your business is about, and how it presents itself to the business community.

Having a website may be vital for some, especially if they operate a mail-order service. But as many people use Google as their first port-of-call when looking for businesses, a website is an essential starting point.

  1. Only Deal with Reputable Suppliers and Providers

There will be instances when some start-ups have to rely on the services of third-parties. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you do have to ensure that you’re only dealing with providers that are of good repute, or you could find that your startup suffers as a result.

Fortunately, there are many places to turn when it comes to reading reviews. A quick Google search will often bring up a series of reviews left on dedicated review platforms, as well as those listed on social networks such as Facebook and Goole Plus.

  1. Obtain a Business Bank Account

While it may be easy to separate your finances in the early days, as business starts coming in, you may find it confusing having so many entries in one account. Registering for a business account allows you to manage your finances with more clarity.

As well as allowing you to assess profit more clearly, it also prepares you for prompt returns in relation to any Corporation Tax or VAT payments.

There may be some elements here that are irrelevant to your particular business model, but it does show how much there is to factor in when running a startup, and just how useful a checklist can be.

7 design hacks to make your startup office stand out!

Starting out in business is tough – but it’s not without its perks. For a lot of people the building space they work in is one of the first things they stamp their personality on. Say goodbye to the boring corporate offices you used to drag yourself into every morning and say hello to 7 designer inspired hacks that will make your new startup space uniquely yours!

  1. Clear the way!

Have you ever tried to move your bedroom around only to find that there’s literally one practical position for the bed and that’s it?! Frustrating isn’t it? Don’t let your office layout or current furniture constrain your office plans, think outside then box, you may even want to consider a steel framed building from https://www.steelbuildinguk.com/ Also, when it comes to the insides – clear out everything you possibly can and look at the space with fresh eyes.

Now, the extent to which you can do this will depend on your tenancy – but if it’s practical you can take down doors, lose window coverings, remove office divides – and so on, until you’ve got a totally blank space.

Then when you do…

  1. Use the space unconventionally

The quirkiest startup offices do things a little differently – and that often begins with the layout. Think about what you want to see when you walk into the space – should this be a vista of your hardworking team? Or should it be a breakout area that keeps guests from stumbling into important business areas?

Do you want open space? Or would you prefer defined working areas? This is your office, so go with what you like and remember you don’t have to rely on the usual elements to divide the space – why not use book shelves to create areas? Or rugs to differentiate one space from the rest.

The best designers don’t rely on walls and doors to define spaces!

  1. Make the space about your company

If you’ve ever been away from home for business you’ll probably have stayed in a few budget travel hotels. The reason the colours, layouts and decorations are all exactly the same is to give a feeling of familiarity regardless of where you are geographically – familiar equals comfort. However, familiar also equals forgettable…

If you want people to remember your company you’re going to want to stamp your brand on the space. When we say ‘brand’ – we don’t mean your logo, we mean giving a feel for what your company is all about. Take for example Instagram’s startup offices…

The designer behind their initial space wanted to reflect the fact they were all about photographs and technology – while still giving a hint of the retro style filters that everyone came to love so much. They did that with clean white walls and sharp contrasting vintage style furniture – and as for colour, accents of pale and mid browns gave a sepia feel that made gave the space an unquestionably vintage photo feel.

Have you got colours that would work for accent walls? What’s the feel of the product you provide? Are you cutting edge tech or wanting a more relaxed vibe? Reflect it in your space!

  1. Let the light in

If you want a productive workspace it’s important to let as much natural light in as possible. The reason natural like looks unlike anything that comes from a lamp – is because it covers the full spectrum of light – not like fluorescent tubes or light bulbs that offer only a small range of colour.

Giving a full range of light triggers the parts of the brain that encourage wakefulness and energy – meaning your workforce is going to be as bright and switched on a possible.

Controlling the light in the office is as much about organising furniture as it is about windows and skylights. Those typical U.S. office ‘cubicles’ are a crash course in how not to do things – take a big spacious office with lots of light and surround everyone with opaque artificial walls. Not ideal!

It might be tempting to put big plants or feature items in your windows – but try not to – and you can boost the amount of light with carefully positioned mirrors around the place too.

  1. Pick some colour carefully

When you had your logo and website designed you probably went with a colour palette that involved some black, white, greys and one or two accent colours. Try to do the same with your office space – if you throw a bucket-load of different statement colours in there you’ll start to diminish your brand and design – and start to look a little hotchpotch.

  1. Consider some wall-art

If you’re looking for a bold statement that really tells the world who’s occupying the space, you might want to think about putting some art onto the wall. We’re not talking pictures, we’re talking full wall murals that reflect your company, your message, the vibe of the room – or whatever else you want to shout about!

Even if it’s just a generic pattern, you’ll find that a team feels more stimulated when they’re surrounded by more than just plain walls.

Not sure that your landlord will appreciate an 80s New York graffiti mural sprayed onto his freshly rendered wall? No problem, there are plenty of companies who’ll create custom removeable wallpapers that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

  1. Mix old and new

If you’ve shaped and coloured a stunning space only to fill it with crisp catalogue-fresh office furniture you’ve fallen at the final hurdle! The best office spaces try to mix old and new to give a classy and well-thought-through feel.

Don’t overdo it though, aim for around 30% of your office furniture to be vintage or antique – if you have much more you run the risk of looking less shabby-chic and instead just plain old shabby.

There are some things you’ll probably want to ensure are cutting-edge – computer chairs are going to keep you workforce comfy – so save the Queen Anne style wing-back chairs for the breakout areas! Consider vintage where ergonomics matter a little less – storage areas, cupboards and side tables are all perfect for that retro vibe!

The result?

There’s mixed bag here – not only are you going to have an office that’s memorable to the clients who come and visit you there – but you’re going to find that the combinations of colours, light and working space bolster productivity – making your office the ultimate in form and function…

10 Financial Tips For New Start-up Businesses

10 Financial Tips For New Start-up Businesses

10 Financial Tips For New Start-up Businesses

Starting up a new business is a time of mixed emotions you’ll be nervous, excited, proud and confident. However, that last one might not last very long if you don’t get a solid foundation set up, the risk of bankruptcy is incredibly high in your first few years and no entrepreneur wants to experience that. 

According to research from Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 start-up businesses will fail in the first 18 months of their operation. So, the risk of failure and bankruptcy is high but don’t panic because you can improve your chances by following these 10 fantastic financial tips.

Budget Everything

One of the biggest reasons start-ups fail and go bankrupt is because they don’t budget properly, if you want your business to succeed then you need to keep on top of your cash flow. You need to know exactly how much is coming in and how much is going out and what it’s being spent on. Every area should have a budget and you should always stick to it, great ideas don’t pay the bills so makes sure you keep on top of your money.

Avoid Unneeded Expenses

When you start a business, you’ll need to spend money that’s just part of getting your business up and running. But you need to make sure you’re spending that money on the right things you don’t need a huge office with an amazing view when you’re just starting out do you? Or fancy coffee machines for the staff room, remember to focus your money on what matters not on extravagant fixtures.

Have A Business Plan Ready

It surprising how many entrepreneurs start setting up a business without a plan, you should always make time to set-up a business plan first. With this you can better work out exactly what you want your business to do and better evaluate your ideas, it also gives you a way to track your goals and work out all the costs involved. So, before you do anything else get yourself a business plan drawn up.   

Check Out The Competition

Yes, it might seem sneaky but this is business we’re talking about everyone does it! So, don’t be afraid to check out your competition and see what they’re doing remember your business is trying to outdo them so look at what they’re doing and see how you can improve on it.

Get Ready To Promote Your Business

Despite what Hollywood might show us not all entrepreneurs are confident, extroverts with a talent for showmanship. That’s OK but no matter how much you hate it you’re going to have to tackle that problem a get ready to promote your business yourself at least for a while. PR firms are not an expense most start-ups can afford so you’ll be doing the promoting on your own.

Use Social Media

Social media is an amazing tool for all kinds of purposes especially promotion, but it can also be used for marketing research and much more. So, get your business on social media as quickly as possible and remember to try and update regularly.

Research Your Customers

Just like researching your competition getting to know your customers will help your start-up business gain a huge advantage. You need to know how to attract customers from your key demographics and understand how they operate. You should be researching your customers all the time, while your business is still in development and after it’s been set-up.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Setting up a business is hard, now you might be thinking “tell me something I don’t know” but few entrepreneurs will be ready for what exactly that means. It will likely mean many late nights and long working days, so say goodbye to your social life for a while because you’ll be putting all your focus and effort into running your business.

Start Out Slow

If you’re setting-up a business you don’t have just jump in, you can start out slowly in fact till you’re ready you should take it slow. You don’t have to quit your job straight away after all, while you’re getting your research done and setting up your business plan you can keep working. Many start-up businesses fail because entrepreneurs try to rush things leading to higher costs and big mistakes when it comes to starting a business slow and steady does win the race.

Don’t Micro Manage

In the early days of your business, you’ll likely be doing many different jobs, that’s why being a jack of all trades will give you a great advantage. However, when you have the time and money to hire employees you’ll have to learn to let them do their own thing. Micro managing will take up too much or your time and won’t create a good working environment. It will be difficult for entrepreneurs to take a back step but if you want your business to succeed then you’ll need to learn to do it.