MOT your charity website: part two – accessibility, compatibility, GDPR and software updates
Find out about four key areas of website maintenance in the second part of our website MOT series
Get your website into shape for 2018! We’re sharing Pedalo Web Design‘s ‘MOT your website’ tips to help you health-check your website and ensure it’s delivering the best results for your charity. Following on from part one, this blog covers four more key areas of website maintenance: accessibility, browser compatibility, software updates, and compliance with the dreaded new GDPR laws.
Web accessibility means ensuring your website can be accessed and enjoyed by all users, including those with disabilities. Having an inaccessible site means you’ll be unable to engage with potential supporters and donors, and you might also be breaking the law by not complying with the UK’s Equality Act.
To ensure accessibility, make sure any text is written in plain, clear English, displayed in a legible font, and is clearly contrasted with the background behind. Where possible, provide information in different formats, such as audio clips, videos and images (with subtitles, transcripts and descriptions as needed) to appeal to different people. Finally, use a linear, logical layout to make site navigation simple and ensure you test any major site changes with users who have different needs. There’s more information on the Gov.uk website about appealing to particular user groups, including people with low vision, deafness, dyslexia, autism and motor disabilities.
There are a vast number of different browsers, operating systems and device options available, and each has its own method for translating and interpreting your website code. Browser compatibility means that your website can be ‘translated’ effectively via that browser or operating system, such that it is displayed correctly and is fully functional for users. If your site is incompatible with a particular browser, people using it will have a frustrating experience and may choose to exit before engaging with your charity.
To ensure cross-browser compatibility, schedule in regular testing to check your site across different systems. There are free tools to help you do this, including Browserling, where you can test interactive versions of browsers, and Browser Shots, which provides screenshots of your site on multiple browsers. To maximise efficiency, find out how the majority of users access your site on Google Analytics (in Audience à Technology and Audience à Mobile) and make these browsers/systems your priority. Browser issues can usually be remedied by simplifying website code and removing anything unnecessary to make your site easier to ‘translate’. There are more detailed tips on overcoming browser compatibility issues in this blog.
Whatever software and plugins you use for your website, regular updates are needed to fix bugs, increase security, enhance and add features, and generally improve performance. If you don’t update your software, you may have issues in key areas of site performance such as page speed and browser compatibility, and your site will be at increased risk of hacking.
How to update your site software depends on which Content Management System you use. For example, in WordPress, there are in-built update notifications which appear on the dashboard and can be implemented with a single click. Other platforms, such as Drupal, are more complicated, and require specific and detailed advice.
Finally, we consider how to ensure website compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on 25 May 2018. There’s widespread panic about the GDPR and it’s important to ensure compliance as data protection breaches can incur fines of up to €20m!
To get ready for the new data protection law, map out your website data, considering what personal information is collected and/or shared, where and how data is stored, and who has access to the data. You’ll then need to make sure that you have procedures in place to enable people to opt out, to keep data accurate and to remove data when no longer needed. You should also check your site security systems, especially if you process any sensitive information – encrypting your site with HTTPS is recommended.
Ensure you have an up-to-date website privacy notice that explains why data is collected, who it will be shared with and how long it will be kept for. The notice needs to mention that people can contact the Information Commissioners Office if there’s a problem. Finally, you’ll need to collaborate with other team members across your charity to ensure wider GDPR compliance. For more information about the GDPR, visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
Pedalo will be back with more charity website tips soon! In the meantime, for help managing or updating your website, visit www.pedalo.co.uk.