Discussing Stupid: Talking Digital Customer Experience Podcast Artwork Image
Discussing Stupid: Talking Digital Customer Experience
Episode 4: Creating inclusive digital experiences – getting your content contributors onboard | Doug Burgett, University of Illinois
May 23, 2018 Doug Burgett, University of Illinois

In today’s digital world, creating an inclusive visitor experience is often discussed but never really implemented. One of the biggest challenges facing successful implementation is taming the behaviors of a large base of content contributors. In this episode, Virgil is joined by Doug Burgett of the University of Illinois, to discuss his first-hand experience with this topic. Doug is the Creative Director for Marketing Communications for Enrollment Management (translation: he markets for admissions). In this role, Doug has primary responsibility for the most important areas of the University of Illinois website and must ‘wrangle’ a diverse population of contributors who possess a variety of skill levels.

During the podcast, Virgil and Doug discuss the challenges we all face keeping our digital properties accessible. Add to the mix that we have to train our contributors to use the tools at our disposal in an educated way. According to Burgett, “When content editors use WYSIWYG editors they don’t realize that as the enter content into the editor, code is actually being created in the back end. Knowing this helps content editors to Realize the power they have at their fingertips.” Once consistency among content editors has been achieved, Virgil and Doug discuss bad practices to avoid, look at some of the monitoring tools and techniques you can employ, and explore how to provide your customers with all-inclusive digital experiences.

Resources discussed:

Episode Transcript

Intro:0:00Note this podcast does not discuss nor endorsed the idea of discussing stupid ideas because we all know there are no stupid ideas.

Intro:0:14Hello and welcome to discussing stupid, the podcast where we will tackle everything digitally stupid from stupid users and the crazy things they do, just stupid practices and the people who use them for the stupid things we all do and maybe even come up with a few ideas on how to do things better. And now that I got your attention, let's start discussing stupid.

Virgil Carroll:0:42Hi and welcome to the broadcast to the podcast. I'm Virgil Carroll, your host and principal human solutions architect at High Monkey. After all those series about GDPR, I thought we'd switch gears a little bit and talk about another thing in the web and in user experience that I think is very near and dear to my heart, which is accessibility. Something that I actually like to call an all inclusive customer experience. You'll probably hear me talk about it during the discussion, but accessibility frankly has been a challenge for a really long time and even though there's been laws around this for since the nineties and even almost pre-internet, this is something that has really not taken over the focus that it should have until just recent years and a lot of that is due to actually some higher profile organizations outside of government starting to get some legal ramifications around the accessibility of their websites, their social media and that kind of stuff.

Virgil Carroll:1:36So I thought this would be a really great topic there. One thing that you really challenged from that that I thought we'd looked from a unique perspective is if you're an organization that just has one person working on a website, you know that being compliant and following all the rules and doing all the kind of stuff around that can be very difficult. But the reality is in most organizations you have many, many people managing this stuff. So keeping that whole group and all those activities together and actually making sure that they're following these principles is a much bigger story. So for that, I actually sat down with Doug Burgett, the creative director at the University of Illinois. Doug works in their admissions program and brings a lot of experience to this whole field and kind of they have a very unique approach that I thought we would share.

Virgil Carroll:2:29Hi Doug. Well, thanks for joining me on the show. I really appreciate you coming out and talking to me today. Why don't we start by you telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do in the web world?

Doug Burgett:2:40Yeah, I, um, I work as the director of marketing communications for enrollment management at the University of Illinois, which is kind of an umbrella unit that contains admissions, the office of the registrar and the office of financial aid. So a majority of the work that our office does is for admissions and student recruitment and the application process itself. Web specific. We maintain several websites that are more informational websites, your standard higher ed website, but we also have some pretty complicated workflow systems. And so for instance, we manage a website called e-admit that is used to control the review of applicants and the admitting process of, of applicants. And so, you know, we've got people in the office of undergraduate admissions that spend their entire day working on this particular system. So that's an example of some of the more complicated websites that we work on.

Virgil Carroll:3:47So you, you know, in that role. One of the things I think that, well honestly in the world of government in the world of Higher Ed has been a thing for a really long time, but now is getting to be more of a well spoken issue. Otherwise we're seeing a lot more out there about. It is around accessibility and accessibility in not only websites but also in your other social channels that you utilize to be able to do things. In your particular instance, I'm sure you use social channels for student recruitment and all those various things, but in your world, I think when you look at a scenario and you see it, it's hard enough for one person to kind of get their head around the scope of being accessible. How do you really do it at an organizational level when you have not only yourself but you have all these other people that probably contributed content, edit, manage other assets, manage you could have different people that manage your social channels and all that. How do you really are what you'd done at the University of Illinois, they're really kind of be able to manage this entire process to stay compliant

Doug Burgett:4:56at the U of I, we're kind of unique situation in that accessibility has been a huge topic for us for a long time and we have very, very topnotch accessibility departments on this campus and and resources, so here more than a lot of other places. I think accessibility is in the back of people's minds because they hear about it all the time. Even if they don't do anything with the web that term and those people are so prominent around this campus that everybody kind of knows it's important when it comes to websites and that helps us greatly with our work because we don't have to that, you know, that initial phase is just trying to convince somebody or, or talk to someone about accessibility and the importance of it and that's just kind of taken care of for us on this campus. So that's good. From there, it's further training. I mean if you're a web developer, we have a team of web developers that works on our websites and we make sure that they have in depth training on accessibility and you know, through the University of Illinois. Again, there are these hands on all day workshops to go into Aria best practices and html best practices for accessibility. But then you have your content editors who don't know code. Accessibility is probably the furthest from their mind. Although like I said here, they still are aware of it, but they might not know exactly what it means. We start by, you know, with real simple things by, by teaching them a little bit about what accessibility means exactly and then from there things that they can they can do when they're inserting content, things to be aware of through a CMS or something like that. So they get a little bit of training from us. You know, like I said, everybody here kind of takes for granted the fact that accessibility is a really important thing on this campus and we have really great resources. So if anybody wants more training, it's very easy for us to get them met.

Virgil Carroll:6:58You know, it's interesting you say that in. I'll be honest. I mean, you know, I've been doing this for a long time. It's relatively refreshing because you hate to say it or probably a rarity among most organizations from that standpoint of actually saying that kind of this all inclusive experiences already kind of perforated throughout your organization and it's not just about trying to comply with law but it's actually something you believe. We just don't see that a lot and we should, I think in the world. But you know, I mean even if I started a web redesign project with somebody, you know, six weeks ago has been mandated to be compliant for the last 10 years, there's a good chance a lot of it isn't in there. That was one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the program because you and I have talked about in the past and so that everybody knows it's listening to the show. Doug runs just absolutely wonderful web conference called Illinois Webcon. It's in it's fourth or fifth year now.

Doug Burgett:7:57This is actually this past year was our 19th year.

Virgil Carroll:8:00Nineteenth year, sorry, fourth or fifth that I've been involved. So yeah, see what I know

Doug Burgett:8:05Well it changed about four or five years ago and grew, it was kind of one of those milestone years and the format of the conference changed. So that's probably what you're thinking about. But the, the actual event next year will be the 20th annual. So it speaks to how early things got started on this campus with a robust web community.

Virgil Carroll:8:28Yeah. Well I mean in. And that's the thing is when I attended that and some of the sessions I attended a couple of years ago, I was really impressed to see how forward thinking University of Illinois. So, you know, one of the areas that I think that we always see as a challenge because, and you kind of brushed on it briefly, but I'd love if you'd expand a little bit about it more as how do you really tackle that learning curve? Because let's be honest, I mean I think from a best practice standpoint, our best opportunity would be that accessibility is always part of our entire build cycle. So from the moment we started to the moment we end, we're really building this all inclusive experience, but trying to get people on board with that. Maybe we can, but trying to get them to actually be able to put that into practice and think about everything from the standpoint of, okay, how am I looking at this if I have some type of visual impairment or some type of audio or impairment or another, you know, issue like that. How do you guys kind of tackle that from getting your content people really in that mindset and helping to give them the tools basically to be able to kind of make that happen.

Doug Burgett:9:37The first thing that I think is just a very good thing to have web content editors who are nontechnical using a WSIWYG editor or CMS putting information in to realize is that the more simple their approaches, the better. As soon as they were getting into something that they think is complicated, there's a good chance that it actually is complicated and they should kind of revert out and try it a different way. So we start by introducing the basics of html and the basics of good markup and show that 95 percent of what they're going to do can fall into this category and if they need help on that extra five percent, you know, we're here to help them. But if they stick to good header structure, you know, avoid using complicated layout ideas and just, I mean really the world of mobile devices has kind of helped this because, you know, that's the other thing that we, well everyone's concerned about is, you know, is this going to look okay on, on a mobile device and you know, you're pretty restricted in real estate on them on a mobile device, so your layouts get a little bit simpler and we just try to get them in that mindset of it doesn't have to be complicated and in fact when it's not complicated and you keep it simple, you're much more likely to have success with accessibility and part of that is just building a good template for editors to use so that there's, they don't have a ton of room to make large mistakes in there.

Virgil Carroll:11:18Yeah, I mean listening to you, I kind of laugh because you know, one of the first things that comes to mind as we've learned over the last quite a few years is WSIWYGs can kill us. Those WSIWYG editors that people use and they can do different things inside of them, you know, basically your option if you want to keep them compliant as let them put in text and that's it.

Speaker 1:11:39Yeah. And that, that's okay. I mean, that's kind of what we need those editors for is, is just the help on the information and I think there's this misconception of there's a content management system there, so now I can, I can be a web designer and part of our, our initial training is, you know, to explain that this, this WSIWYG editor that you're dealing with is allowing you to put information on the web, published information to the web, but there is code that is being produced when you do this and a lot of people don't know that. And so just realizing that is huge. One of the first things we run into with a content management system, if somebody has some weird spacing somewhere and they cannot figure it out for the life of them, but they don't look at the code. They're just looking at the WSIWYG editor and there's a stray tag in there or something like that. And you know, once you look at the code, it's very easy to see. You know, you've got an extra paragraph tag here that you just can't see in the WSIWYG editor and for an html person or a front end designer, I mean that's very easy to pinpoint and that's a good lesson for the content editor though many times that's the first time they're looking at the code view in there if we haven't showed it to them already in training and you know, they're realizing, oh, so this is, you know, this code is being produced when I'm just typing stuff in here. Yeah. And that's kind of an eyeopening experience, but it's a good one because then I think they move forward with a little bit more hesitancy and a little bit more knowledge and that's ultimately what we want is them to realize the power at their fingertips here and what they're actually doing when they're working with one of those editors.

Virgil Carroll:13:22Yeah. I would honestly say probably one of the number one complaints we ever get from content editors is why can't I just copy paste, especially out of Word. And you know, honestly, most cms is they have some type of cleanup operation is. Yeah, I haven't found many of those to be very good, frankly, they do some cleanup, but I think you bring up a good point and that's one of the things that I think can be really stressed when you're training people is not only tell them what to do but why they need to do that and why they need to follow those practices because that's frankly where most people trip up as they do what we say, but they don't really understand why they're doing it and they kind of implement those bad practices because they never really knew that there was some kind of consequence to that.

Doug Burgett:14:07Yeah. And I think starting with the why and saying, you know, accessibility is something you should care about and be aware of because you can get sued. I mean this can bring a lot of stress and trouble to us. So I think right away when you initiate the subject with that, there's all of a sudden a little bit more attention to what they're doing.

Virgil Carroll:14:30Yeah. And I, and you know, the whole concept of getting sued where this has been in the public domain for, you know, Kinda government in, in kind of more those type of related organizations for a really long time. You know, I think one of the things that's really, you know, when you hate to say the reason these things become more well known, but one of the things is, is there has been some of these commercial cases that have come out against some of the larger commercial retailers and I think there's a big movement right now to again kind of make that all inclusive user experience versus just looking at it just from the standpoint of their. Another area that we see all the time, and I'm wondering if you guys have had to have tackle this when you start talking about colors, color obviously is something that can really trip up in there. When you start looking at safe colors that are actually going to deal the right level of contrast in that. Have you guys had to tackle those kinds of things?

Doug Burgett:15:25Yeah, absolutely. When I first got involved with the web, I met John Gunderson who's a pretty prominent figure nationally on topic of accessibility but he happens to be located here on our campus, you know, he was presenting some information on accessibility and when I come from a design background, so when he was talking about this, I clearly understood the importance of it and you know, just the term accessibility, you want to make things accessible that that's always kind of a positive term in my mind because if you're making something that's inaccessible, you're cutting some audience off, you know, in our line of work, you want to, you don't want to ever cut an audience off, you want to access your stuff. So it intrigued me and when I, when I first started talking to him and seeing, you know, what he was doing as a designer, the first thing I thought was, you know, this is great that these tools are accessible or this site is accessible, but it looks terrible. I mean, I can't make something that looks like that and expect to keep my job as a designer. So I guess I was challenged more than anything with the idea that well can you make something accessible but still have it look sharp. So I worked with John and he liked my approach because I embraced the challenge of let's make it 100 percent accessible but also make it so that somebody doesn't look at it and think it's ugly or it fits in with the landscape of great looking design that's out there. And one of the first things that comes up is the limitations with color because color is such an important tool as a designer and you're either really tough restrictions that. I mean on this campus, orange is one of our two colors for our identity and it's very difficult to work with in terms of web accessibility. So it's very hard to put text in orange and have it pass accessibility tests. So it's a huge challenge for us. And I think what really changed my tune on it was about a year ago when we were hit up with an OCR complaint offices, civil rights complaint about some of our pages not being accessible and our pages. We're 97 percent accessible and the fact that they were getting highlighted for a couple of minor things was quite frankly a little annoying, but at the same time you don't want to get into trouble and you don't want to face a lawsuit, so you're aiming to make them 100 percent compliant, more or less as perfect as you can make them. And I came down to some color issues honestly. And at that point I thought, why face a complaint like this? Why not just build it, you know, given to everything being color accessible, going in and not trying to cut corners or anything like that with things that pass at one level but not maybe another. So I feel like the color contrast thing is challenging as a designer, but you know, I don't know what that saying is, but the more restrictions or more parameters you have, challenges you have with a project or with your work, you know, the more creative you have to be. And I think that's very much true in the arena of web accessibility.

Virgil Carroll:18:52Oh yeah. I mean, we're working with state government agency right now that, I mean, you know, we're running into the same challenge in the reality is if we could go back to netscape navigator 1.0 and the way we could build websites back then we would actually be 99 point nine percent compliant because things were simple and I think that's really. I mean even you look at some of the initiatives that Google has been doing around it's amp program and things like that and you know, the reality is what they're really trying to do is make it simpler and it's partially for loading. It's partially for search engine optimization. It's partially for accessibility. And actually that's one of the good things that I think has really helped kind of bring accessibility to more of the forefront from a positive side is that companies like Google have actually done a really good job of making accessibility standards very similar to the way that like it ranks pages on search and it looks at those different things. You know, a good structured hierarchy of a page and you know, good use of the different things. And not having a lot of accessibility issues in it will actually rank you higher and, and I think that's important because that kind of brings that to that next step. It makes it more important. But you brought up about your OCR complaint and I think that's another reality that we have to deal with is that, and of course I don't think Doug is going to say this, but these are people that are out there probably looking to make a little coin on there and there and they're going after agencies all over the country and in kind of looking for that. But, but there's a reality, you know, this is what's going to get the world to be more compliant. It's kind of like my last two episodes where I was talking about European GDPR and there the reality is, as you know, as the GDRP going to come after you probably not, but there's now a path for people to just start lodging complaints all over the place. The positive effect of that is we might get stuff it's and more compliant and actually doing it. I, I still laugh how many times I go to some type of government site and there are 10 images on a page and not a single one has an alt tag. I mean, and that's something that we've known since web basics 101. Yet you can't even get people to do that. So besides kind of teaching them, what are some of the other things that you guys have put in place as you guys start publishing? So how do you make sure that you're staying compliant? Do you have some checks and balances that you put in place in your process?

Doug Burgett:21:19Well, we have audit periods. We try to have regular audit periods where we go in and we being the developers of the website go in and run a comprehensive scan of the, of the site and see, you know, what issues pop up and then we go in and, and kind of clean them up. So we don't put that on the editors themselves of the websites, you know, just because it's at that point it's a little bit beyond them. But if we find things that they have done, you know, then it comes back to the training and we can say, you know, we've noticed this is an issue that has come up, this is how you can avoid that. But you know, doing these accessibility audits, it's, it's a great way to make sure that whatever you've done to the site, whatever it may be, that you have changed over the last six months, it is indeed passing all of these tests because sometimes we have to develop things very quickly and the accessibility knowledge is there when you're building it. So you're pretty certain that everything is accessible, but you know, it's very easy to overlook something or just not do thorough testing when you're in a hurry. Especially. So coming back and doing and taking the time to do those audits and go through and clean things up is, is great. But like you said, I mean when you get an OCR complaint that that just forces you to change things. Someone's done the audit for you and you, you just started going in there and cleaning up what they've complained about. If you're proactive about it, you're doing these audits regularly and staying on top of it.

Virgil Carroll:22:56Right, and have you guys found a schedule that you think kind of works for you as far as how often you guys do these audits?

Doug Burgett:23:02I think it depends on how much work is actually done on the site. It depends on the site. Something like our admissions site, which is changing constantly. We try to do those audits at least every six months, but with some other sites and annual audit is sufficient only because there's minimal editing that's going on on the site. You know, some, a site that is very, very robust and getting content added to it daily by editors and there's changes, drastic changes done throughout it code changes on a regular basis. I would think that you'd want to do an audit on their quarterly at least because you just don't want too much time to go by without making sure that you have everything in. That's when you're vulnerable for some sort of complaint or a lawsuit.

Virgil Carroll:23:51Oh, right. Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, you got to find that balance, especially in your world. I imagine there's a lot of cases where there's a particular time of year where you're posting a lot more content than other pieces. Hey, you know, leading up to your marketing push for the next semester or whatever it might be for enrollment in that kind of side. Have you found some tools that you think have have worked really well for you?

Doug Burgett:24:15We use the FAE tool. I don't know the exact name of these tools. It's fae, functional accessibility evaluator I think is what it stands for, is developed on this campus and I think if you just search for FAE accessibility tester evaluator and you'll find it and we always start with that because it gives you kind of a real comprehensive look at as to how accessible or inaccessible your website is. And when we worked with the OCR complaint, they were using a firefox tool. I don't know if it's web inspector, I forget the name of it, but it was kind of a sidebar on firefox that allows you to look at a page and it was kind of does the same thing as Faye but does it page by page and it points out different things than FAE sometimes or points them out in in different ways. Between those two tools we found we're pretty covered. There's a lot of stuff in there that an evaluator is just not going to get for you. If you have a lot of text over images, which we did on the admission side up until about six months ago. That's hard. The evaluator is not going to know what the contrast is of that image back there behind the text. So then it's kind of on you to make those calls. There is a little bit of manual check and you'll see that if you run a FAE report, it'll tell you, you know, here's 30 manual checks that you should make sure to run through. So at the time consuming process, but you know, between those two tools in terms of an audit, those are very helpful. We use, I find that the most helpful tool I'm building a website is the WEB AIM color contraster or I mean I use that tool all the time to just know whether or not color for some sort of text is going over top of a background is actually meeting color contrasts guidelines. I mean those. It's a little depressing when you first started.

Virgil Carroll:26:17It is. I always think about when you hit the lighter, the darker link on there and you're like that's just ugly. That's just an awful. Yeah. But I mean there's, the reality is. So the other thing I've found very interesting is like if you take a real high contrast, like some of the more neon colors and those kinds of things that you see it, like you think like FedEx screen, you look at that against why that doesn't work. But if you put it on like a blue, like a dark blue where it doesn't look good at all, it works perfectly. So I think there's, you know, 10 tools for every solution. We obviously we use the Web AIM tool a lot as well. I've actually been using this tool that's called color contrastor, which is from a professor over in the UK that he put together that I just think it's a little bit more interesting there. Uh, I have, you know, kind of two other questions along that kind of how you've done this. So one of the things that has come very important today and we hear from a lot more customers about their need to be more compliant in this areas. How have you guys kind of dealt with compliance with your documents? like PDFs,

Doug Burgett:27:23so pdfs, they're real pain, I can tell you that much. We have a lot of accessibility training on this campus, a lot of experts with pdf accessibility. So again, we're pretty lucky if somebody has a pdf on this campus that they just, they don't have the resources or skillset to make accessible. They can contact our disability resource center and people will make that pdf accessible for them. So that's a fantastic tool for staff that are putting pdfs on the Internet, but honestly what we do is we say, can it be a webpage, you know, somebody has something and they want to put it up there. That's the first question because there's this kind of default tendency to just, you have a document that someone has created and they want it on the web and they just produced this pdf and they, I mean it's like so easy, right? And they just produce a pdf. They weren't linked up and they don't think twice about it, but it's not going to be an accessible pdf document if you haven't done anything with it. And most of the time I'd say nine times out of 10 those documents are better off as some sort of webpage. Many times they're pretty simple to create two [inaudible]. They're just, you know, a text document that can go up as a webpage. So that's the first thing that we say. And if it's a document that's just too massive and to, you know, we don't have the time to create entire web page or website for this pdf. We'll go through and, and make it accessible and there's complaining every, not every page in the whole process because it's, it's just, it's just not a fun process, but it's also not that difficult to make them accessible if you know the rules and how to do it. It's more or less just breaking things up with headers and you know, the same sort of thing done online, but just done in a different way. I also think that for many pdfs, it's kind of this, like I said, there's this tendency of just default, I've got this document and I wanted online, can we just plop it up there? And in some cases I think you can probably get by by putting just adding some texts to that document, editing it and saying if you want an accessible version of this will provide it to you to save you the time upfront. We wouldn't suggest that to somebody as the best practice, but if you have no other options, I think that kind of saves you because let's be honest, I mean you're going to have such a small percentage of people who are going to access that document who needed to be accessed depending on your audience I guess, but in most cases a majority of people are gonna be fine with your pdf being inaccessible, but if someone needs it to be accessible, they can then you know, requests that and you can go through that work at that time. It's not speedy and it's not a great user experience for the people who have the disability. And so again, it's not a, certainly not a best practice, but it is one way of dealing with it if you're really hurting to figure something out quickly.

Doug Burgett:30:30Yeah, and I think you bring up a great point because I actually, maybe you've worked with somebody that has about 18,000 of them out there on the web. There's a reality though, you know, we maybe looked at it a little bit the opposite, which was basically to state up front these aren't accessible. Um, and, but I, I like your thought of, of maybe even a little bit doing the other side of saying, well, but if you need an accessible version, contact us and we'll get you that, that that's a really good thought. But the other thing is, and I think most people don't understand this, is that, you know, it's so unbelievably easy to create a pdf from Microsoft Word or Powerpoint or anything like that to create an accessible pdf is an almost ridiculous process. Especially if you have any tables in there, any images in there or anything else like that? I mean you really have to almost treat it like you're building out a full fledged website to put a document out there. So you know, I'm with you that I think if an organization takes anything away from this podcast, stop using pdfs should be one of them and really look at how you can push that onto the web where you have more control over it and where you can keep that consistency because you know, frankly, besides dedicated pdf checkers, most compliance checkers out there, we'll just say you have a link to a pdf. This might not be compliant. Right. That's all it says. It really doesn't do it. You have to use, you know, Adobe Acrobat or some type of system like that.

Doug Burgett:31:59Yeah. And I mean, I don't like pdfs. There's not a ton of people who, you know, want some information online and they're hoping that they get a pdf, you know, it's not mobile friendly. I mean there's just a ton of reasons why a pdf outside of,

Virgil Carroll:32:15oh, come on dog. I love to open pdfs on my iphone and do the whole zoom in and zoom out and everything. I mean, how is that not a great experience? I mean, that's one of those things. Yeah, you hate to say it, but you know when, when anybody ever brings up the phrase generation gap, I can always think when I was in my twenties, never wanting to think that existed. Boy, if there isn't, I'm always amazed. Many young people are willing to sit there and scroll through 100 page document on their phone or watch a 10 hour video on their phone. And I'm like, well, when I can't see that close and the other side is I can't do that. Nor have the patients that to do it. Yeah. So I mean and, and I think that's the thing is, you know, when we start looking at accessibility and we really kind of break it down in these environments, especially when we bring all these people in the play from content contributors to editors, to web designers, to developers to, you know, marketing folks to everybody that kind of gets involved. I think the real key is we really have to start bringing this as part of the entirety of our process. Otherwise, you know, I think the ideal is it no longer is considered an and it's considering a part of it. It's no longer a, Oh, and we've got to do accessibility. It's part of that and so we've been trying to change our own internal vernacular basically to say an all inclusive customer experience. Therefore if you're going to build a webpage for a client, maybe that hasn't even asked for accessibility, you should still be following those practices because overall those are good practices to follow and they're going to create the cleanest page. They're going to create the most all inclusive customer experience there's going to be, and I think you have to look at it from that side and you have to really start kind of striving down to that way and I'm glad to see that the University of Illinois has, has really kind of. You're kind of a forefront of that because I've worked with a lot of other colleges that are way, way behind where you're at and so that's really great. So thank you very much for joining me, Doug. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to join me here for everybody on the podcast. I know Doug mentioned a few different tools. I'll make sure that I get those links in the show notes, so thank you very much doug, and have a great rest of your day.

Doug Burgett:34:35All right, thank you.

Virgil Carroll:34:42Well, welcome back to another segment of the stupid buzz. Kind of going along with the discussion we just had about multi-author accessibility and how challenged that is. I thought I'd look at one of the things that I see a lot tends to be one of those really annoying buzz terms, but also has some big ramifications for us from the world of accessibility and that is the hero image and so what exactly is a hero image? It's basically a large ass banner image. I mean that really is what it is. There is no more scientific meaning behind that, but it's a big ass image that sits in the middle of your page and takes up a good amount of screen and is probably supposed to convey some type of emotional response or some type of informational response, but basically from the most standpoint to marketers, that looks really cool.

Virgil Carroll:35:29Now I'm not knocking it as that. This is a really bad thing. I'm just saying that overall this has been a very an overused thing. We see this all the time and it's something that there and it's always when we're looking at different activities and we're talking with customers are always like, well, we need these big hero images. The important thing about it is as images should really convey a visual meaning and most hero images do not maybe to a marketer you look at it and you're like, oh, we've got this product and over here we look at this and were like, hey, we think this makes everybody have an emotional connection. But the reality is a lot of times those images just take up space and keep people away from the things that they actually want to get to, which is the content and the information on your site, and so you really have to look at that and really decide if these types of images are good for you and most of all you've got to really decide if it's going to help you convey the information that you want. One of the things that I really look at that I think is very different than a lot of people from a web perspective, as you really have to focus on those end results. Otherwise, what are you trying to get to a person to do? So is it order a product? Is it that they're going to go and sign up for a service? Is that they're going to contact you to start a relationship? What is that reason that somebody is using your site and then you have to go back and build that all the way up to that homepage in that big ass image and you really have to look at it and say, is this image actually helping get those people to that end point and if they're not, you really want to maybe think about not doing it. If you happen to be a photographer, if you happen to be a marketing company or somebody that imagery is really a key part of what you're trying to convey, then that might be a very sensible thing, but if you're not one of those things, then really you have to look at it and say, is there really anything heroic about these images? Or maybe we should just do without them.

Virgil Carroll:37:27So thank you again for joining me for another great podcast. I hope people are really starting to enjoy this as we kind of grow our viewership and grow the topics in there. We have some really exciting topics coming up over the next several weeks. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to subscribe to us. You can subscribe to us through all the major players such as itunes and stitcher and soundcloud. You can also visit us on the web at anytime at discussingstupid.com. If you have any questions or comments or maybe just a topic suggestion, you can reach out to me really in two ways. First, using my podcast email address me@discussingstupid.com, or you can also send me a tweet to @discussstupid so that's not @discussingstupid. It's @discussstupid on twitter, so until our next time, feel free to just start discussing stupid on your own.

See All Episodes