Frank McClung

That website topic we don’t want to talk about but really should

I want to discuss a topic that I’ve not been comfortable talking about up to this point because:

  1. I have not implemented solutions for my own sites.
  2. I am generally lazy in these areas.
  3. I tend to choose the past of least resistance and lowest radar signature.
  4. I throw nickels around like manhole covers when it comes to spending.
  5. I did not see the point in many of them.
  6. I did not think most decision makers care.

What am I talking out? Website compliance. And by that I’m referring to making sure your website complies with various regulations and standards, etc. as required by law, industry, organizational policy, and/or by your own conscience.

Examples include copyright and trademark notices, creative commons, privacy policies, GDPR notices, financial disclosure notices, real estate broker requirements, ADA Section 508 accessibility, COPPA notices, secure transaction notices, etc. and the list goes on. You know, the stuff you ignore when you visit other websites and those things you have not necessarily implemented on your organizations website unless there is threat of lawsuit or loss of licensing.

I know this is a fun topic, but wait, before you delete this email, hear me out for just a moment.

You may relate to some or all of my “reasons” listed in 1-6 to varying degrees about why your website may not be compliant. But, if you are like me, you’ve not been moved to spend the time, energy, or money to ensure that your website meets compliance standards.

I’ll discuss in a follow-on email specific compliance minimums and strategies for all websites, but for now though, I want to help you move from complacency to caring or at least toward considering and planning to implement (which is where I am now for my business websites).

COVID-19 and the social justice movement in the United States clarified why standards and policies are in place for websites. When you normally have access to the physical world and then suddenly find yourself in lockdown, quarantine or isolation for weeks, even months, the digital world becomes your primary, critical world for communication, movement, shopping, entertainment, business, education, etc. This change in the importance of the digital world for you and your organization shifts your perspective.

Website policies, standards, and information notices are there to protect our interactions, digital movements, transactions, and communications. What used to be ignored while “traveling through” this digital space becomes vital when you are forced to “live” in it. Now we can understand how the person with disability feels all the time in this digital space. Or the elderly person whose vision or hearing is failing and Instacart is the only way they can order groceries or get a cab to the doctor with Uber.

The social justice movement continues to shed light on the importance of equality of access and opportunity for everyone. That applies directly to the digital space and your organization’s part of that space with your website. Compliance with standards ensures a level digital playing field for those who need help now and those who will need it in the future.

Former vice president Hubert Humphrey said it well:

“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

This a moral test for your organization’s website. I hope you can see why it is important in the context of society as a whole. We’ll talk compliance strategies in the next newsletter and some general options for moving forward.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.


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