Sarah Richards and Rob Pellow share their expert advice, tips and tricks
Zara Gemmell, Nottingham
SR: Video or face-to-face. Some think digital is all there is. We communicated pretty well before the internet! Always go to your audience.
Citizens Advice has a team in Sheffield that is just for BSL users. The advisors are incredible. Many BSL users don’t read English. Many organisations think everyone who is profoundly deaf can read English. That’s simply not the case.
The content can also be very different. It’s not always a case of taking content and making a video of it with a signer. Many government services can be very different for BSL users and I am guessing it will be the same for other industries. You need to tailor that content. Run different user journey mapping sessions to make sure you are getting the right information across on the right channel at the right time.
Email design Table talk
Should we use tables in HTML emails or is there a better way? Duncan McClean, Scotland RP: The reality is that, for most brands, Outlook (and others) is still a pretty major consideration. That means you are going to still be working in tables until that stops being true. Even if you are working with adaptive design, you are still going to have code that is full of checks for Outlook with hidden tables and table cells in.
But the real question is ‘why does that matter?’ There are fewer and fewer restrictions on what you can achieve in email – especially for iOS native emails, so why do you care that you are using a table versus a <div> or an article? While
it’s a bit of a pain to change gears if you are normally a web dev, I’ve always found that tables make it quite easy to envisage the code I need before I even open my editor.
Content design Mind your language
What changes have you noticed in language now that the web has to comply with accessibility? Do we have to rethink how to label our navigation and CTAs? Michelangelo, Los Angeles, USA SR: To be brutal, I don’t think most organisations have changed their language enough. Or, worse, they think they can ‘teach’ people language. If you are an author, great. People will be looking for skilfully written prose. But if your audience is buying something they won’t want to marvel at your GCSE English skills.
Content is the easiest way to open your offering to an audience. The best way to do that is: Write to your audience using their language and to their needs. Forget jargon and phrases that make you look clever. Be clear and succinct. Language and human behaviour change. Your content needs to change with them.
This can be applied to all content but in calls-to-action and navigation, you just have a smaller space. So you can: Work with designers to make sure the words and design give your audience the best chance of interacting. Use card sorts to look at how your audience will group items. Test, iterate, test, iterate.
Research will show you everything you need to do. In our courses we show people how to do easy, cheap research that you can do while you are on a bus, so there’s no excuse.
Pay gap Bridging the gap
Why is the pay gap so large between email developers/designers and web developers? Aysha Marie Zouain, Florida/Georgia, USA RP: Tricky one this. I’ve never recruited a mid-level email developer or designer that could only work in that medium. You set your own value to the market and, if all you can do is design or code emails and you are comparing yourself to people who are working on websites, emails and apps then you shouldn’t be surprised that they earn more. I think it is unusual to have people that are only email designers or devs.
If you only consider yourself to be an email developer or designer then you’ve put a cap on your own development and pay. Widen your net and look outside the channel: it will benefit not only your pay packet but also your ability to improve your work, efficiency and desirability to employers.
To learn more about British Sign Language or to enrol on a course, visit the BSL website at british-sign.co.uk, which is packed with free resources, games and information
MJML (or Mailjet Markup Language) has been designed to reduce the pain of coding a responsive email.