You are hereHome › Blog
Hello everyone! Those of you who've attended an LSNTAP webinar in the past six months know that we have switched over to join.me for our trainings. It's a great platform, but the transition from other, more familiar platforms like GoToWebinar might be a bit tricky. So we've put together a few resources to help you use join.me:
- a short video (also embedded below)
- handouts on presenting at and attending join.me trainings
Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below!
Have a great week!
Hello everyone! Happy Friday! Before you leave for the weekend, be sure to add NTAP and Idealware's next webinar to your calendar. We'll be discussing best practices for Creating an Accessible Website with several experts in the field. What are the straightforward steps that every organization should take to help those with disabilities access their website? What are things that make the difference between a site that’s helpful and a site that’s unusable to a part of your audience? What tools are available to help audit your website for these types of issues? Don't miss out!
Visit https://join.me/NTAPtraining at 10am Pacific/11am Mountain/12noon Central/1pm Eastern next Wednesday, June 12th to join in! Hope to see you there.
Hello everyone! Last week LSNTAP and Idealware hosted a great webinar on “Auditing Your Website for Usability Issues.” The speaker was Laura Quinn of Idealware.
To kick things off, Quinn asked audience members what kinds of things they wanted to learn about; responses included responsive design, website usability testing tools, sample surveys, Intranet tips, and more. Quinn then moved into a discussion of why usability matters – essentially, because it facilitates a host of other website-related goals like providing information to the public, raising money, and encouraging clients to self-serve and lawyers to volunteer. Furthermore, visitors to your site may translate characteristics of the website to the organization itself; that is, if they website is particularly baffling, they make think your organization is confusing and hard to deal with as well.
Before you being trying to make your site more accessible, Quinn says that it’s important to define for whom it should be usable. What is your audience? What might be some characteristics of that audience? Are they clients, legal aid or pro bono attorneys, or law students? How literate or educated are they? Do they speak English natively or well? What kind of information do they most likely want? Quinn says that oftentimes, the information visitors to your site are seeking is surprisingly simple – a phone number, operating hours, or resources for further or more specialized information. So, make it easy to find the most basic information.
Remember that your website cannot be “all things to all people.” Set goals and prioritize what content you want to publish. Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes: what exactly are they looking for? What questions do they have? How do they think about those questions and where will they click for help? Often, people are looking for easy answers, which, we all know, don’t always exist in the legal world. Think about how an “it depends” answer could be broken down or made to make more sense.
Quinn then stepped through the “three core parts to usability:” navigation, content, and forms.
Navigation. Beginning with navigation, Quinn says that the homepage is a critical place to set expectations for the site and establish what kind of information it has. Content should be prioritized (read: minimal; only what’s important) and organized into categories such that it’s clear where a visitor should go next. There’s not much that you absolutely must have on a homepage, but a search bar is a great place to start.
Remember also that visitors to your site will not think about their legal problems in legal terms. They will think in terms of questions and scenarios; they don’t know what documents they need to file or what court they need to visit, they just know that they are being evicted. Cater the presentation of information accordingly.
A very important point regarding navigation is to make a visitor’s “location” within the site’s hierarchy obvious. Use a breadcrumb trail or tiered sidebar navigation to make various sections of the site clear.
Another thing to consider is “wide” versus “deep” navigation. “Wide” navigation means that you have a number of links available at once on one navigation “level;” “deep” navigation has only a few items available, and more within each item. Consider what type works better with your content, how the site will look on mobile devices, and, most importantly, “scent.” “Scent” means that it’s clear to the visitor where they should click next. It doesn’t matter if there are many clicks to get to the page they’re looking for, as long as they can do it without errors.
An essential piece of “scent” is that links are clearly worded. Prefer lengthy-but-obvious labels over short-and-vague labels so that the visitor can tell if any given link applies to them. Additionally, a “Quick Links” section for frequently-sought items is very helpful.
Finally, remember that much of the traffic to your site will be from mobile devices. How does the site look on a smart phone? Is it navigable? How can you improve its navigability – bigger buttons, a stripped-down page, an entirely separate site?
Content. The first rule of thumb for content is to make it manageable for visitors to your site. If it’s overwhelming, they won’t read it. Internet users like to skim things, and they like to find what they’re looking for quickly. Limit the amount of text on your site; keep information as brief as possible and “chunked” into sections, which should be clearly labeled so that visitors can skip to the relevant information. Bullet points are another great technique, because they are easily scan-able.
In terms of aesthetics, go for high levels of contrast – black and white maximizes contrast, but other color combinations can also work. Use a tool like WebAIM’s Color Contrast Checker to make sure your colors are up to par, and attend our Accessibility webinar on June 12th for more information!
Using multimedia (videos, slideshows, audio files, etc) is another great way to make content more digestible to visitors, as well as providing alternative methods for those with disabilities to perceive it.
Form design. When using forms (“check one of the following” or “select your state,” etc.), make sure to use the correct form for the type of information you’d like to collect. Quinn says that if choices are obvious (such as what state you live in), a dropdown menu is a good choice. If people are not sure what their options will be, radio buttons or check boxes are better. Make sure enough space is provided to fill in information like names and addresses.
For any fields that are mandatory, make sure that users who do not fill out the needed information will be notified of what exactly they are missing so that it can be quickly and easily corrected.
Usability testing. Quinn then moved into a discussion of testing a site’s usability. This doesn’t have to be a very formal process; one attendee talked about having her mother check out the site to see if she found it intuitive. Anyone outside of the organization or who didn’t work on development of the site is fair game for usability testing. Ideally, get three to four people to check out each element of the site that you want to test.
Sit down with your testers one at a time at a computer and pull up the website. Let them control the mouse and keyboard, and – as tempting as it is – don’t give them any answers! Give them a scenario and ask them to find some piece of information, or let them come up with their own scenario. Watch the path they take through the site, keep track of how long it takes them to find links they need, and count how many errors they make.
Another option is to conduct a survey. This will give you less specialized information, but will alert you to any general trends or overarching problems with the site. Keep surveys short and ask basic questions like “why did you visit this site?” and “did you find what you were looking for?”
You can use an “intercept survey” that will pop up on the site, probably after a specific amount of time to minimize skewing of the data by people who only click on your page accidentally. Quinn says that the results will probably not be surprising, but are likely to underline the fact that most users are seeking very basic information.
If you’d rather not do an intercept survey, you can also consider emailing a link to the survey to a list of website users like clients, other lawyers, or another group.
Popular survey-making tools like SurveyMonkey will allow you to create email-able or intercept surveys, which can be added to your site just be embedding a bit of code.
Analytics. Finally, Quinn suggests using a tool like Google Analytics to look at the ways in which people arrive at your site, which pages are the most popular, and more. These statistics could give you hints about what parts of the website should be expanded, moved, or changed, as well as how SEO could be improved.
If you found this webinar interesting, be sure to attend our upcoming Accessibility webinar on June 12th at 10am Pacific/11am Mountain/12noon Central/1pm Eastern!
Hello everyone! This week's Video of the Week was created using Xtranormal by Legal Assistance of Western New York. It's designed for divorce clinic participants to watch before the first round of their clinic. The video isn't completely finalized yet, but this link should take you to whatever the most recent version is.
Xtranormal is a great tool because it is easy to use and cheap - this project cost, according to LAWNY's Jeff Hogue, was less than $20 (for the characters). It sounds like LAWNY signed up for a free account, which means that the user pays per use of characters and sets (some are more expensive than others). To do this, you buy "Xtranormal Points," or XP - 1,200 XP cost $10. A typical cost for a movie with one set and one character is around 100-150 XP, plus the account comes with 300 XP. Once you select actors and sets, you can add sounds, a script, motions, camera angles, facial expressions, and more. You can even upload your own voice if you're not into the deadpan style that comes with the service!
Check out LAWNY's Xtranormal video:
For more on making your own videos, check out some how-to videos by LSNTAP on our Video Camera & Editing Tech playlist. See also a list of high-quality low-cost video cameras, and low-cost or cheap applications for editing video on a computer or a smartphone.
Hello everyone! A while ago we posted the slides from the 50 Tech Tips presentation at the Equal Justice Conference in St. Louis, MO in early May. Many of you reported that you were unsure what some of the slides (particularly those with very little text) were getting at - so we researched and recorded the basic information about each tech tip! The presentation was divided into "chunks" of 10 slides each to keep each video short and manageable; these videos will be released every two weeks for the next couple of months. Keep an eye out here or on our YouTube channel for the videos!