The Big Red Jelly team has just returned from a long weekend of learning, networking, and collaborating with partners at WordCamp US in San Diego, California. As we got back into the swing of things, it’s productive for us to review our notes and make changes and tweaks to our products and processes to keep up with the latest trends for WordPress blogs and sites. Our plans for the rest of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 have changed slightly and what we are going to be focusing on improving for our clients and for our agency has shifted as well. Here are four of our take-aways from WordCamp US 2022 for agency owners.
1. A Focus On WordPress Site Accessibility
A recurring theme for many of the presentations and workshops during WordCamp US 2022 was accessibility. For most of the history of WordPress and websites in general, they have been inaccessible for users with cognitive or functional disabilities. The WordPress community is making a concerted effort to make the internet more accessible for those users and make the design and experience for users in all audience groups a more enjoyable experience. Here’s what we think is most important when it comes to accessibility:
An Accessible Site Is a Beautiful Site
When you make an effort to design your site to be the most accessible, you’re also making your site a better experience for people in all categories of ability. There are basic rules of design that make your site more accessible as well as look and function better. Overall, this means allowing the users to control their own experience and navigation on the site instead of forcing or coercing them into what you want them to experience. Consider the following benefits to these accessible features:
- Using white space for those users with focal or learning disabilities also helps your website flow better for users on non-traditional devices.
- Implementing a search functionality on your site where users are used to finding it, helps users who have trouble navigating with a mouse, but also is a helpful tool for everybody to find what they want.
- Avoid using analogies and metaphors in your copy, especially your headers. Not only could it be hard for users with learning disabilities to understand, but also can confuse users whose primary language is not yours.
- Don’t use more than about 50 words in any body of copy, unless you’re blogging. It’s hard for users with learning or reading disabilities to complete reading that much content, but it also looks terrible to stare at a wall of text on your homepage…
- Finally, allow users to control their own experience. Don’t force users to watch an auto-playing video, especially with audio.
An Accessible Site Is a Useful Site
Design and experience are related, but not synonymous. By incorporating more accessible functionalities and animations, you can make your website more accessible for those with disabilities, but also increase conversion rates. Your website should be using these tactics to increase conversion rate anyways, but now you have even more reason to include them in your websites.
- Include hover-states for all clickable events. Not all users have cursors that change when hovering over links. This means more than just changing the color of links on hover. It means including parallax, bumps, shifts, etc.
- For forms, you should include labels, placeholders, and instructions when needed. Each user is going to interpret what you’re asking for in different ways. For example, asking for “additional info” on your forms might confuse and even intimidate users without more context, which impacts your conversion rate negatively.
- Consider how your brand colors and branding elements are included in your designs. Make sure that your background colors for buttons, forms fields, etc, are noticeable, but also set themselves apart from purely decorative elements on your site.
2. Agency Owners & Time Management
Part of working in or owning an agency means wearing multiple “hats”. Balancing working with clients, in your business, with making sure your company grows, on your business, is an art. There are plenty of time-management workshops and books out there, but agency owners, managers, and leadership should consider some common time-management strategies to help focus on the right thing at the right time:
- Plan your days and weeks out in advance. If you don’t make time to work on your business, you’ll get sucked into client work and your business or agency will struggle to make the strategic changes it needs to.
- Put away distractions. Yes, this means e-mail. Your job is more than just responding to emails. Block off time twice (maybe thrice) a day to answer emails and then put it away. Don’t have your email tab open with that red-badged number staring you in the face all day. That can’t be healthy…
- Recognize what are and are not emergencies. Not all emergencies are a bad thing either. If a client cares enough about your product to reach out to you with an emergency, then they value your work and your professional opinion.
- Learn to delegate. You have a team behind you. You should use them to help you all grow. By allowing your team to take more control and make more decisions, your team’s productivity will skyrocket.
3. Creating & Recycling Original Content
If you’re not creating some type of recurring, refreshing, and original content as an agency owner, you’re making a mistake. Pure and simple. You should AT LEAST have an active blog that is shared with your mailing list/newsletter. Your blog can be shared and repurposed in more ways than just that. You can and should be sharing your creative and original content on social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Quora.
One of the hardest and most expensive categories of original content to get started is audio and visual. Starting your youtube channel is intimidating. Have hope, it can be made easier. You can invest in getting a professional and short intro and outro to add to your videos self-filmed on your smart phone and edited on free and easy video editing software. If you’re already blogging or writing long-form posts for your Linkedin, then you’ve got a head start. You can repurpose or recycle that same content as “scripts” for your videos. You can read that as a talking head or simply make an animated text to follow along or slideshow.
The agencies and freelancers who leverage their experiences as original and valuable content will see a significant return on their investment of capital and time. If anything, by creating original content it will help you to solidify your ideas, brainstorms, and how you articulate and communicate your ideas with clients and partners.
You can even get your employees involved. See what Josh has to say about that:
4. Partner With The Right Tools
Create REAL relationships with your partners and tools that you use for yourself and recommend to your clients. For example, we learned how WooCommerce treats their partners and as a consequence, they’ve earned a partner for life. Emmet Wolf once said “A man is only as good as his tools”, which can be applied to your agency. An agency is only as good as its’ partners and tools. If you position yourself as a resource for your clients using the correct tools to create your products, but also a directory of relationships and partnerships to send your clients to, you will see real-world benefits.
Put the effort in now to find the right tools and partners that you want around for the long-term and invest in them and allow them to invest you. Our partnerships here at Big Red Jelly were instrumental in getting started and still play a vital role in both acquiring clients and providing a quality product and service.
Checkout what Josh Webber had to say with Bryce Smith from our partners at Pressable:
You Should Go To WordCamp
Ok, maybe not WordCamp specifically. We enjoyed our weekend there. We learned lots and came back ready to make changes.
Your industry is changing.
Your clients are changing.
Is your business changing?