Making your website ADA compliant is a tricky and complicated task that’s recently become a hotly debated issue, but we here at IT Decisions are ready to help you get started and up to code!
What exactly is ADA Compliance and why do websites need it?
In a nutshell, ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance is working through a general checklist of tasks and guidelines to make sure your website can be easily and freely accessed by visitors who are differently-abled, such as blind users who use audio narration software to read websites to them or deaf users who need closed captions because they can’t hear the embedded audio in videos. The goal is to ensure that anyone who comes to your site won’t be blocked from accessing any of the content or information by means of good, thoughtful design or alternative methods of accessing the content.
Do all websites have to be ADA compliant?
While the ADA guidelines are vague when it comes to website accessibility it’s become a “better safe than sorry” situation that every site owner should consider, especially if your site is for a government organization or a public service. If a lawsuit is filed that your website is not accessible, you can be accused of discrimination and held liable to the tune of thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees.
Don’t let the threat of a lawsuit make you think accessibility isn’t important on its own! An open and accessible internet for everyone is something all site owners and developers should strive for. When we build a site we make sure that many of these items are cleared right out of the box, like making sure that all images have alt text and every page has a clear heading.
ADA Compliant design is good design!
One of the best things about making your site ADA compliant is that it also results in a clean, usable site for everyone. It can even help boost your SEO rankings! Many of the tasks required to make a site ADA compliant overlap with the ones to make a site user and SEO-friendly, like adding helpful alt text to every important image and using headings to make your site more readable. Getting your site compliant with ADA would work hand in hand with a larger SEO strategy designed to make your site more usable and visible to Google and other search engines.
ITD Interactive has the tools needed to make your site ADA compliant
If your site is a little older it wouldn’t hurt to have it scanned to see what needs to be improved to make your site ADA compliant. Many of the guidelines are common to newer sites, like including closed captions in videos, but if your site was built before video content was common then that’s just one thing that will likely need to be addressed.
ITD Interactive specializes in making websites ADA compliant and we can help make sure your site is both safe from litigation but more importantly accessible to anyone who wants to check out your content.
We’re a local business in Johnson City, Tennessee, but we can scan and improve sites anywhere around the country since these guidelines are so universal.
Contact ITD Interactive today if you’d like us to look at your site to see what it would take to make your website fully ADA compliant.
The business climate has been great for locally owned and operated businesses for the last several years. Many people feel a renewed sense of community. Supporting local small businesses is the perfect way to start loving where you live!
From restaurants and breweries to manufacturers and industrial facilities, local businesses are booming and they all have one thing in common: they need a well-designed website to stand out, search engine optimization to be found, and a social media strategy that will help them engage with the local market. That’s where your friendly neighborhood local web design and marketing firms like ITD Interactive come in!
Local Web Designers Understand Your Market and Customers
We understand your market because we are your market! We spend a lot of time examining and researching the local market for the same reason any local business does: to look for ways to expand our reach and find new customers. A local design firm will have a better understanding of how to reach local customers than a group from hundreds of miles away who may have never even stepped foot in your market before.
Here at ITD Interactive we always try to support our local businesses in the Tri-Cities. There’s no better way to understand how to reach customers of a business than to be a customer of that business yourself.
Local Web Designers Are a Part of Your Local Network
Since we all work in the same business community, there’s a good chance that we’ll know more than a few of the same people. This is a perfect opportunity to get real-world reviews. Just ask someone you know who’s worked with us! Every local business owner knows there’s no advertising better than good word-of-mouth. Take a look at our portfolio and testimonials to get an idea of who we’ve worked with.
Local Web Designers Are a Phone Call or Quick Trip Across Town Away
A quick Google search is all it takes to know there are a lot of options out there when it comes to building a website. There are definitely a lot of talented designers in the field. But there’s always a catch! If you’re a small business owner in Johnson City, TN and decide to go with a web design firm in Chicago or even somewhere a little closer like Asheville to build your site, you’ll always be working around their schedule. Designers in other cities often have a lot of local clients. They may even be in another time zone or work a totally different schedule. It may be difficult to get them on the phone if you have questions about your website or if your site is down and need to get it back up as soon as possible so you don’t lose any business.
ITD Interactive is a Proud Local Johnson City, TN Web Design Agency!
ITD Interactive is a local web site design firm. That means we’re within miles of any business in Johnson City and a short trip from Bristol, Kingsport, and the rest of the Tri-Cities area. We’re in the office normal hours every weekday and will respond to you within a business day if we happen to miss your call. When you need to see how something works you can drop by our office any time for a hands-on tutorial. If you’re lucky you’ll be here on a day that JC brings in her famous chocolate-chip cookies – we’re happy to share if there are any left!
If you’re in the Tri-Cities and are ready to see the difference in working with local, personable web designers drop us a line and let’s get to work!
As an entrepreneur, sometimes you’ll have a really great idea that won’t quite fit into the boundaries of a traditional WordPress or eCommerce site. There are many plugins and extensions available for each platform that can help make your ideas work but in some cases something more custom-made is better suited for your needs.
So…Web Design or Web Development?
The terms are often used interchangeably, but for the sake of clarity in this article we’re going to differentiate between the two. Web design typically refers to creating the layout and overall look of your site. Web development refers to the actual nitty-gritty of building a site or app like writing code and making major changes to established frameworks.
At ITD Interactive we primarily do our work on two platforms: WordPress for “normal” websites and Magento for eCommerce sites. Both are open source, secure solutions with a rich support network that make building sites for local businesses efficient and cost-effective. If you’ve got a more complicated idea than a standard WordPress or Magento site, custom development may be a better option.
Web Development Work is Customized for You
Since every client is different, our custom development work is a whole new piece of work for each client. One website might need a custom-made price calculator while another might need a color picker to help customers design buildings.
The great thing about WordPress and Magento is they’re easily adaptable with all kinds of available resources, meaning we have everything we need to make your idea work without breaking your budget.
Custom Web Development is Secure and Efficient
WordPress and Magento are open-source platforms, meaning anyone is free to build “plugins” or “extensions” that add new features to a website. Plugins can be useful to quickly make a site come to life but using too many of them can quickly bog your site down with unnecessary functions. Many plugins can be old and out of date with many vulnerabilities that leave your site open to malicious hackers. Other plugins can be full of added features you don’t even need.
Opting for a custom-built website or plugin means you get only what you need out of your website without any bloated unnecessary features that make your site slower and easier for hackers to break into. When you choose to go the custom development route you get only what you pay for — not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Custom Web Development Gives You Complete Control
Since you’re basically starting from scratch, every single facet of your project is totally up to you from the general look and feel of the site to how it reacts to input from users. We’ll work with you to make sure your site looks just the way you want it and works in a way that will keep your users coming back.
This level of customizability gives you an added benefit in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because we’ll be able to precisely fine-tune it to get you the best results possible without any of the filler that comes in cookie-cutter website templates.
Maybe Web Design is All You Need!
If this all sounds overwhelming and you just need a simple, basic website or eCommerce store, we can certainly help you out with that too! Visit our Web Design services page or read more on our web design and marketing blog for more information.
Your ITD Interactive Project is Yours
Once your site or app is finished by ITD Interactive, it gets turned over to you as the owner whether you’re a web design or full development customer. We don’t retain the rights or hold your site hostage if you decide to move your it to another hosting or maintenance service in the future. Many one-size-fits-all website solutions leave you tied to a contract that means if you stop paying you no longer have a website and have to start from scratch.
With your ideas and our expertise, we can build something together that will make building your brand and business easier than ever before. Ask us how to get started today!
Unless you are new to the world of Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation – you have no doubt heard of Hubspot. You might have even seen a demo or viewed a webinar. Speaking from personal experience as former Certified Partners, Hubspot is the cream of the crop. They offer an incredible array of features and insight into your visitors. There’s just one problem – not everyone can afford the price tag! The entry level packages start at $200/month, but in order to get the most popular features, you are looking at $800-$1000/mo for a minimum number of contacts. One of the main reasons Hubspot is so expensive is that they cover so many things on their platform. Email, Contact Lists, Lead scoring, Content Management, Social Publishing, SEO Analysis, etc.
So What are some Hubspot Alternatives?
One thing we found when we used Hubspot was that being a WordPress user, we weren’t taking advantage of a lot of Hubspots features – but we were sure paying for them!. So, as much as we loved Hubspot, we decided to take the time to find alternatives that would cost much less, while offering the same results. We get a lot of questions about hubspot alternatives and decided to write this post to cover some of our favorites. We hope you will find them useful as well!
Hatchbuck – Marketing Automation
Hatchbuck, which starts at $99/mo, is the most full-featured of the products we chose to facilitate our marketing automation. Hatchbuck’s standard features include: contact management, lead scoring, form generation & conversion tracking, CRM, email creation. and mass-email service. In a nutshell – Hatchbuck serves as the core of our marketing automation system. It handles our marketing emails, automated drip email campaigns, and more. Hatchbuck keeps track of each visitors activities on our site and wraps it all up in an easy to use contact management interface. All in all – we couldn’t be happier with Hatchbuck.
WordPress – Content Management
One big criticism many have of Hubspot is their content management system. It isn’t that their CMS is bad, to the contrary, it is a very robust CMS. The bigger issue is that there are so many great CMSs out there – why would you want to reinvent the wheel? There is also the risk of something happening to Hubspot, and your site data is locked in a proprietary CMS that you do not host. We have long been fans of WordPress for its ease of use and for the fact we can make a WordPress site look any way we wish. It is a great platform for Content Marketing and is very SEO friendly. Best of all – WordPress is absolutely free! Wordpress is by far the most popular CMS out there (in terms of installations, not personal opinion here). It is also completely open-source and non-proprietary, meaning you can take your site anywhere.
Gravity Forms – Lead Generation
First of all, Hatchbuck lets you build forms and embed them in WordPress. However, there are times we would rather control that process entirely on the website. Gravity Forms makes it quite easy to set up a landing page form with downloadable content hidden behind a form. Gravity forms is inexpensive ($39 for a single site license), and allows the user to create practically any type of form imaginable. With their free addons, there is virtually no limit to what you can build. Order forms, surveys, quizes, and of course – general contact forms. One of the best things about Gravity Forms is the flexible confirmation and notification options. You can develop custom notifications based on conditional logic. For instance – you might have the user choose “general contact” or “technical support” when they fill out the form, and you could display a custom notification based on the choices they make. These notifications can be used to deliver whitepapers, ebooks, etc.
Lead In – Lead Intelligence
Lead-in is a plugin for WordPress that was actually developed by Hubspot. The idea was simple – to bring Hubspot-level visitor intelligence to WordPress, and NOT charge for it. Lead In is a free plugin that offers a lot of additional functionality through “Power-Ups”. Power-Ups include specialty stats, connectors for popular email services, pop-up forms and more. Out of the box, Lead In pulls in a good bit of detail about a visitor, once they have filled out a form. It tracks return visits, gives you detailed drill-down paths so you can study their behavior, and much more. Lead In can often get the users company name and information, size and even social profiles, making it easy to get some background information on a lead before you reach out to them.
Mailchimp – Email Marketing
Personally, we route all of our email through Hatchbuck. However, we have a lot of clients that don’t need that level of marketing automation such as drip campaigns, etc. For those situations, it is hard to beat Mailchimp. For the record, you can actually set up drip campaigns in Mailchimp – however, if you plan on doing that a lot, you need to look at a system designed for that sort of activity. At its core, Mailchimp provides a fantastic interface for creating and designing emails, managing your contact lists, and sending out mass marketing emails. Mailchimp is free as long as your contact list stays under 2000 members (and you don’t mind the little monkey at the bottom of your emails). When it becomes time to pay for your account, it starts out at $20-$30 per month. Very reasonable!
A Final Thought…
This is certainly not an exhausting list of Hubspot Alternatives – if you are truly interested in apples-to-apples competitors of Hubspot, there are a few out there. Google “marketing automation” and you will find a slew of products that fill this space. Be warned though, many are equally expensive and some are even more! If you have that kind of budget, you can’t go wrong with Hubspot. For start-ups and small businesses, however, part of being a nimble and adaptive business is diversifying your tool-set. Don’t put all your eggs (data) in one basket. With the tools we mentioned above, you can put together a customized marketing automation suite that does just what you need.
Need Help with Marketing Automation, Inbound Marketing or SEO?
ITD Interactive is a full-service digital marketing agency. From website and eCommerce development to full-scale inbound marketing and SEO services, we help businesses, large and small, increase their exposure online and generate more leads. We have services available for all sizes of businesses and budgets. Click on the link below to find out more!
A Hobbit Hole built 20 minutes from our office in Flag Pond, TN.
It’s time for the final installment of The Hobbit films. The Battle Of The Five Armies opens tomorrow.
As Yext certified partners, we’re always keeping an eye on local search marketing and online reviews.
So I did a little digging and found these reviews of Places To Stay In Middle-Earth. Should you find yourself on an adventure in those parts, this may be helpful.
The Prancing Pony
“The ale is good — supernaturally good. But you may have to remind the proprietor, Butterbur, to bring it to you a couple of times. Quite forgetful.” – Meriadoc Brandybuck, 4 Stars
“Finding a guest at The Prancing Pony is about as easy as crossing the Ford of Bruinen at high tide. Won’t be back.” – Black Rider, 1 Star
“Someone call an exterminator.” – Bombur, 2 Stars
“I asked for a wake-up call at 7:30. Jumping dragons, I’ve never heard a horn like that. I had the shakes all day and Gandalf had to use sign language til we got to the Gap of Rohan. (And boy does he know some sign langauage.)” – Pippin, 2 Stars
“Great view. Rough neighborhood.” – Strider, 2 Stars
The Paths Of The Dead
“As advertised.” – Gimli, 1 Star
“Be warned that if you leave a bad review of this place or the lady who resides here, you will rue the day. Aragorn can track IP addresses, Legolas has the eyes of an eagle, and my axe is hungry. Forth, the three hunters!” – Gimli, 5 Stars
“Bombur, you got the number for the exterminator?” – Frodo, 1 Star
“Host is less than hospitable.” – Gandalf, 1 Star
“Gandalf, don’t be hasty. We are now under new management. Please visit again and stay a while. horuummm borrruuummm snorruuuummmm” – Treebeard, 4 Stars
“The place could use a reno.” – Faramir, 2 Stars
“Grandfathered in before elevator codes took effect. Get in shape before you come.” – Pippin, 3 Stars
“Wonderful library for bookworms.” – Gandalf, 5 Stars
“Excellent infirmary.” – Faramir, 5 Stars
The Dead Marshes
“They advertise it as a historical landmark with thrilling haunted tours. True, but it’s not worth the money.” – Frodo, 1 Star
“I think there’s a Peeping Tom.” – Frodo, 1 Star
“The bathrobes are itchy.” – Samwise, 1 Star
“Nice break on a lonely stretch of road. Chilly in these parts, but there’s a lot of good firewood here. Hey, is the wind blowing that tree? Wait a min…” – Ugluk, 3 Stars
“The courtesy of this hall is somewhat lessened of late.” – Gandalf, 2 Stars
“I don’t know who does the hiring here, but putting that Worm-tongue guy behind the front desk? Mistake.” – Gimli, 2 Stars
“The silverware is exquisite.” – Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, 5 Stars
“Sweet conference room.” – Gandalf, 5 Stars
“Sharp knives.” – Boromir, 1 Star
The Old Forest
“Wonderful place to take a nap, but the old man who runs the place is a few mushrooms short of a full basket.” – Samwise Gamgee, 4 Stars
The Lonely Mountain
“Swanky!” – Smaug, 5 Stars
“This facility is no longer available for public use.” – Thorin Oakenshield, 5 Stars
The Misty Mountains
“Careful, there’s a trap door. But there are some great finds here.” – Bilbo, 1 Star
“Keep your valuables locked in the safe in your room. Thievesses about.” – Gollum, 4 Stars
Mines Of Moria
“Frequent power outages and a weak foundation. Bring your own linens and a change of underwear.” – Gandalf, 1 Star
“If anyone sees one of the Entwives, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.” – Treebeard, 4 Stars
“I haven’t had pipe-weed this good in an age. Longbottom Leaf! Longbottom Leaf! Longbottom Leaf!” – Gandalf, 5 Stars
The Grey Havens
“The ferry ride was nice. Superb retirement community.” – Frodo, 5 Stars
ALSO SEE: Your Website Is Like Bilbo’s Ring
What is the best eCommerce platform? If you ask 10 different people, you are likely to get 10 different answers! You CAN choose the best platform for your business model, though, and we will show you how. (more…)