079: Bet Hannon from Nonprofit Management to Tech

Ninja Forms Logo

This episode is sponsored by Ninja Forms


About Bet Hannon:

Bet Hannon has worked with businesses and nonprofits for over 14 years, helping them build WordPress websites, integrate other communication channels, and learn how to use digital marketing tools more effectively. She is the founder & CEO of BH Business Websites, that designs, builds and maintains accessible websites, including membership and ecommerce sites. Bet lives in Bend, Oregon, and is a co-organizer of the WP Meetup there.

Find Bet Hannon: Bet Hannon Business Websites | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn


Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
079: Bet Hannon from Nonprofit Management to Tech
/

Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop and more in the WordPress community.

Amy Masson:

Hi, welcome to Women in WP. Today’s episode is sponsored by Ninja Forms, a premium form builder for WordPress, create contact forms, order forms, donation forms, and more in literally minutes using prebuilt templates from Ninja Forms. I’m Amy Masson-

Tracy Apps:

And I’m Tracy Apps.

Amy Masson:

And our guest today is Bet Hannon joining us from Bend, Oregon, that runs a web development agency that specializes in WordPress, implementations of accessibility and Gravity Forms integrations. Welcome, Bet.

Bet Hannon:

Hey, thanks for having me.

Amy Masson:

We like to start off each episode would ask our guests how they got started in WordPress, how did you get started?

Bet Hannon:

So I had a first career in nonprofit management, and toward the end of that career, the last five years or so of that, I started doing a lot more with techy, geeky things, which has always been an inclination, and I was doing email newsletters and drag and drop websites and stuff like that. And right at the beginning of the 2008 Financial Crisis, actually really early on in that, my organization eliminated my position as a budget thing. And I kind of stumbled into, people would pay you to do just the techy, geeky things, it was a light bulb moment. And I started doing some of that. And then I was at a conference and I met a guy that was… I knew he was doing app development, but we were both involved in this nonprofit on the side too. And I was telling him what I was doing, and he said, “Oh, you should be doing those websites in WordPress.” And I said, “I don’t even know what that is.”

And so we went home from that conference and the next Monday, we both… This is 2008, remember, no Zoom, nothing like that. We get on the phone and we both log into the back end of his WordPress website, and he sort of shows me around. It was just this light bulb moment, “Oh my gosh, this would be amazing.” Because, of course, in the drag and drop websites the clients were always messing stuff up and it was a mess. So I started doing WordPress websites and just customizing some themes and got started doing something… I started learning HTML through constant contact, right? If you wanted to control how things looked in the emails, you had to learn a little bit of HTML. And I learned it, started doing that. So I started doing a little bit more coding and did a little more customizing.

And for a long time, I think of myself as really an implementer in the early years, but then really kind of learned a whole lot more over time and grew to become an agency now. And yeah, I love WordPress and I really love the WordPress community, that’s the thing that really kind of sparked my interest too. Finding people online, but starting to go to work camps, and you just see these people, it’s like a big family reunion now. I’ve really been missing all the word camps during the pandemic.

Amy Masson:

So have I.

Tracy Apps:

Same.

Bet Hannon:

Yeah. And I’ve done some meetups and I’ve organized meetups and spoken at meetups. I mean, that’s been kind of the blessing in disguise in the pandemic is that we’ve been able to bring in and participate in other meetups. So I’ve spoken at meetups all over the country and had people, WordPress friends from all over come to speak at my meetup and that’s been really kind of cool, you get to bring some new people in.

Tracy Apps:

I love that.

Amy Masson:

I think there’s so many people whose story, their WordPress story begins with, “Oh, well, people just needed this thing and nobody knew how to do it, so I figured it out.” Not even, “Oh, I had this skillset.” It was like, “Oh, well there’s this opening. Aha, I’ll figure out how to do it.”

Bet Hannon:

Yep. Yep. Somebody needed you to do something and you figured it out. Well, I mean, there’s an aspect of that continually in running an agency or being a freelancer, right? You know how to do, I don’t know, 75% of what this project requires and you just sort of say, “I’ll figure out the other 25% along the way.”

Tracy Apps:

I feel like I need a t-shirt with that, because that feels like my life, I’ll figure out the other 25% somehow.

Amy Masson:

[crosstalk 00:04:21] somebody to figure it out for me.

Bet Hannon:

Exactly, or hire somebody or bring somebody in. And that’s the thing, I was looking over at people’s shoulders and… I mean, I try to, with the folks that work in the agencies, I try to continually help them keep growing and learning new things. And I think sometimes they think it’s a little weird when I say, “Oh, come watch me troubleshoot this.” Right? Because for me, that’s when I’ve really learned the most, not about the nitty-gritty details of that, but just how they approached the problem and sorted it out, and it helped me kind of learn new tools, their new strategies. And so just sometimes watching other people work is fascinating.

Tracy Apps:

I agree. Actually, I just have been finding recently, just watching YouTube videos and people are like, “Go through something.” And I didn’t realize… Because it also, part of me being the UX person, it was that struggle, especially when I’m doing user testing, where I have to watch someone use a product or something I make, and then not say anything. But it also, finding joy in that and finding it fascinating to see how people’s brains work, I’ve learned so much. And you’re right, I think that’s invaluable.

Bet Hannon:

Our agency does a lot of work with accessibility, and it was two years ago, I think, maybe three, we sent our lead developer… I made connection with the guy who is the trainer for the Oregon Federation for the Blind. And so if you go blind in the state of Oregon, they send you to Nick to get trained about how to use screen readers, he’s the screen reader trainer. So we sent our dev to do screen reader training, and he’s a person who’s also blind, but that was her big takeaway was, “Oh my God, people who are actually dependent on screen readers use them totally differently than I assumed they would be using them.” And so that was a super, super helpful thing to do. She wrote up a little post about that on our site too, I think. But it’s just a really interesting thing that you can watch people do something and use a tool or use something you’ve built and, “Oh, I didn’t really intend for you to do that.” Oh my gosh, that’s brilliant.

Tracy Apps:

Yep, yep. There’s a funny animated gif where it shows someone using a cup but banging it against their head and not knowing to drink from the cup, that kind of thing and it’s kind of… But it also is one of those things where, when I was doing some testing and I was like, “Okay, now change the image in this block.” And the person that I was running through the test was a writer, so the little pencil icon that, at the time, was to change the image for us, I’m like, “Oh yeah, it’s the edit icon.” And she was like, “Oh, well this is where I would write something.” And I’m like, “Oh, yeah, you’re writing.” Like, “Oh.”

Bet Hannon:

Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah, light bulb moments, light bulb moments for sure.

Tracy Apps:

Exactly. Exactly. So you went from just kind of figuring this out and then creating an agency, as you do. What does your agency look like now as-

Bet Hannon:

As you do.

Tracy Apps:

As you do.

Bet Hannon:

Yeah, so part of it was… So early on, I, this will sound like I’m not answering your question, but I’m going to get there, so early on I used iThemes Builder because it gave me a way to really do some layouts for things without having to know a lot of PHP, I could do the HTML/CSS, but not that. And they offered at that time, a lot of webinars for people around how to use builder and some other things, but just how to do some things, how to install an SSL certificate with CloudFlare, in the really early days, how to do… I mean, really practical things, but also a lot of stuff around business and running a business. And Nathan Ingram and some other folks were really just putting out these great webinars about how to run a business.

And one of the things they talked about was, at a certain point, if you grow, you should find other people to do the stuff that you don’t like doing anymore, right? As you’re growing as a developer, you’ll get bored with stuff that you already know how to do really well, or stuff that’s just tedious. And so the thing that I was doing, we were doing at that time content, we would receive all the content from the clients, and we would put together posts on the website in an email newsletter every single week. And that was just driving me nuts, and so I hired somebody to do just that. And then it just sort of snowballs from there. It was like, “Oh, I think this person could also do that. And this person could also do this.” And the next thing you know I had a full-time employee. Oh, okay.

And then it turned out that that person that I hired originally to do that, had been in training, was really almost a junior dev and quickly surpassed what I knew. So we had her doing more dev stuff. And then we hired somebody else to do some of the stuff I didn’t like. So we kind of grew. So now we are three of us full time, and then about a half dozen part-time contracted folks around the edges that do some specialty things. So when I need people to do custom API stuff for GravityForms, Tracy, I have one person I call on a day.

Tracy Apps:

I love it. I love it. It’s amazing. And I just need someone to organize my life, can I have just an assistant? That would be great. I don’t like doing that stuff.

Bet Hannon:

There are ways to hire people to do that. It’s called a VA, and you can-

Tracy Apps:

[crosstalk 00:10:37].

Bet Hannon:

The key to doing it though, to getting it, is to start systematizing things that people could do. And having checklists and that, and I’m the queen of checklists. We’re in base camp now, and [inaudible 00:10:53] to have the template for a project, and we have inside template… Things even nested. And so we have, I don’t know, probably 75 different ones that are all the instructions. I’m just like… Because that’s the [crosstalk 00:11:11]-

Tracy Apps:

I need that first.

Bet Hannon:

That’s right, that’s right.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah, no you’re right.

Bet Hannon:

You can’t delegate until you have those kind of instructions out there. And then you can train people, but having them and making sure they’re staying up to date, because it’s the hit by the bus thing, right? If somebody gets hit by the bus, that’s what we always say, which is not very uplifting [crosstalk 00:11:28].

Tracy Apps:

I say the same thing too-

Amy Masson:

I say it too.

Tracy Apps:

I say it to my clients. And I’m like, “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, there are thousands of people that are qualified to do this because we’re doing this standardized.”

Bet Hannon:

Yep, yep, yep. But having the list means I can pull in the next person and I could just walk them through that list in terms of training them, it’s not all located in one person’s ahead. Right, so yeah.

Tracy Apps:

How do you recommend getting that started for someone that wants to do that?

Bet Hannon:

Just start writing it down, just start documenting. And what you need to realize… I think some people, it’s the fear of never getting it done keeps you from even getting started, and you just have to realize that it’s never going to be completely done and you’re always going to need to be revisiting it to update it, because you change stuff, right? We changed where we host from a cPanel based host to Cloudways, and that means a lot of stuff changed, right? So now I got to go back, I got to make sure all of those things are updated now about how you do this or how you get access to that.

Amy Masson:

So my question would be, because I absolutely want to have these systems documented and I want to have a core place where everything is, where everybody can go find it, I have not been able to stop the stuff that pays me long enough to put that in place. So where would you start?

Bet Hannon:

You have to make it a priority to get it there, right? And part of it for me is the motivation of, if I don’t get it written down, then A, nobody else will be able to do it, and that’s my big motivation is being able to know that for at least some of this stuff, somebody else is going to be able to do it or I don’t have to… It makes me faster, even if it’s something that I’m going to do, I don’t have to try and remember it all. So we have a checklist for off boarding a client, we had a client who left this week. But where do I need to remember to go, all the little places to remove them or take them out of this or get rid of these logins or da, da, da, da, da. But if I had to remember all that stuff, it would just take me twice as long, so it makes you faster and it makes it delegatable.

Tracy Apps:

I think that’s a really good point. Because if you think about, look at a designer’s website or a web developer’s website, if they’re busy and they’re good, their website’s probably going to be bad because we don’t make ourselves their priority. I’m speaking from experience.

Bet Hannon:

We just did a new design this last week.

Tracy Apps:

Exactly. Until we were like, “Okay, I’m going to consciously make this, and I need to prioritize that.” But that’s that same mentality is, yeah, “Okay, no, I need to make myself a client.” And what you said about that, because I think I have all this stuff rambling and juggled through my brain, and if I did have some really nice lists like that, that would free up my mental capacity to…

Amy Masson:

What’s that like?

Tracy Apps:

I don’t know, I’m just guessing.

Bet Hannon:

I don’t know. I think I’m a little older than you, but I only have so many brain cells and if they’re all dedicated to remembering that kind of crap, I’m not going to really be able to be creative or do, be thoughtful or strategic, right? I don’t have any more extra brain cells dedicated to that, so if I just off board lists. But I’m kind of that way for my personal life too, I’m a list maker. I just need to have lists and have tasks and checking things off. If I’m going to have to remember something, I write it down. It goes into my to-do list, right?

Amy Masson:

So do you have a particular to-do list software or app that you like?

Bet Hannon:

I use Toodledo primarily, which is simple. But what I like about it is that it integrates with everything, so I have it on my phone and I have it on my desktop and I have it on my laptop, wherever I need to be, and so that’s there. So I use that, and it crosses over personal and business. But then for the business we use Basecamp and it has to-dos there too. And what I really like about those is that somebody gets assigned the task and there’s a date on it, and then we’re looking at our, when things are due, and kind of managing that. And so I’ve trained, like when we get a ticket that comes into our support system, but it needs me to deal with it because it’s something not just content, then they can assign it to me and put the to-do date on it and then it just pops up for me and I see it.

Tracy Apps:

I love it.

Amy Masson:

I will put a link in the show notes.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah, exactly. And it’s one of those things where… I mean, I have tried different systems and sometimes the most simple systems is the best. But the motivation to free up the remaining brain cell and a half that I have floating around, because it’s really overworked, it needs a nap right now. So that is a really good mental motivation.

Bet Hannon:

Yeah. The other thing is, just a while back I did one of those leadership style analysis things, and what it came back with was that my superpower is being an optimizer. I always am just lasered in on, how could this be better? And so-

Tracy Apps:

Uh-huh (affirmative), this sounds like Amy.

Bet Hannon:

And so… Yeah, optimizers unite. Having that list out there is sort of like, then I’m looking at that and I’m like, “If we flipped the order of this and made this step come next, then would save three,” whatever, some small amount of time, right?

Amy Masson:

Yeah, I’m always thinking about automation and ways I can automate things so that I don’t have to manually do it. And when we switched over to using an automation system for onboarding when we got a new client, I probably cut off two hours time off of every new project because they take control and they have to fill out one Gravity Form, and then X, Y, Z, all these dominoes fall after that.

Bet Hannon:

I would love to see that. See, I haven’t done very much of that. I have a small one, I have a small one, but it doesn’t have a ton of automations in it yet. What I did do was I set up Gravity Flow and how you can make these multi steps. And then the best part of Gravity Flow is that, we’re waiting on that person to fill out something, and then they get a nag email until they do it.

So I set up a system to… We offer Termageddon as an option for our clients, Termageddon privacy policies. And so I set up an intake form for me to go in, and I put in the client’s name and their email address. And then it sends them a nag email until they come to my website and they put in either, I want to do a Termageddon policy, I need more information about privacy policies and Termageddon, or I’m going to sign this waiver and not have a privacy policy. Bu that automatically just happens, and that’s been amazing. So I want to do more of those Amy, and I want to see your form. I [crosstalk 00:18:58] that.

Tracy Apps:

So speaking kind of automation, but I kind of put this… Because I just recently have kind of been trying to move all my sites over to, now I’m using SpinupWP and they have… All of the sudden now it’s, “Oh, I’m going to spin-up a new site.” And then there was a box and it says, “Do you want your spin-up script?” And I’m like, “Oh, wait a minute. So I can use WP-CLI and install all of the plugins that I need to and activate my theme and do all these other things?” So I put together, and actually I was using Formidable Pro and making myself a graphical selector of plugins and themes and options that spits out the WP-CLI script that I can paste into SpinupWP and then be like, “Boop.”

Bet Hannon:

That’s really nice.

Tracy Apps:

I love it.

Bet Hannon:

That’s [inaudible 00:19:57]… My thing that’s on my to-do list for looking at, it was a great idea that I got, I think it was from Kyle Van Deusen in The Admin Bar community, was… We managed domain name registrations for a lot of our clients, but we have a good number of them that have their own domain names out there. We had a client last year that let their, long story, their domain name expired because they didn’t get the emails and all. So I thought, oh, this is a great idea, you could take the domain name, you can find the expiration date and then you can… There’s was this love little email that just says, “Hey, we don’t manage your domain name, but it’s coming up for renewal. You might want to log in and make sure your credit card’s there, make sure the emails are up-to-date, blah, blah, blah.”

And then what he said he did was he put it in an Airtable thing so that it went out as an automatic email X number of days before the due date. Well, I haven’t done much with Airtable yet, so I was like, “Oh, that would be good, interesting.” So the first step was getting all of the information. So I have all the information, I just haven’t started playing with Airtable yet. But that’s one of my things that I want to try.

Tracy Apps:

I like that.

Amy Masson:

Oh, I could set this automation up.

Bet Hannon:

In Airtable?

Amy Masson:

Well, no, I use Zapier for my automations, but you could make a sheet with the domain information and then it would go by the date and the date column and create the email 30 days before the date and send out the… Yeah, [crosstalk 00:21:23].

Bet Hannon:

Zapier, Zapier would be easier, huh? I mean, I don’t know Airtable, but it was-

Tracy Apps:

I love it.

Bet Hannon:

Do you like Airtable?

Tracy Apps:

I like Airtable, but I also… I like Zapier because, I mean, I see a massive thing, system, machine that Amy has set up, which is great. I think Zapier should sponsor us because of Amy, honestly.

Amy Masson:

Yeah, I did have to upgrade. I started on the free plan, then I grew outgrew that one and then I outgrew the next one and I had this. But I’m into this plan that they don’t even offer anymore, so I’m just kind of holding steady and I’m going to keep this plan. But yeah, no, I needed more Zaps, more connections, more steps.

Bet Hannon:

We had to go into the paid plan in Zapier because I connected… So we use Freshdesk for support ticketing-

Amy Masson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), we do too.

Bet Hannon:

… but we needed to manage some of that stuff internally in Basecamp. So we set it up so every time there’s a new ticket created in Freshdesk, we get a to-do on a special inbox list over in Basecamp, and then it can get assigned, the person who’s going to take care of it can get assigned. So anyway, yeah, so then I had to get into the free list because that would have meant a lot of tickets.

Amy Masson:

Yeah. Yeah, we had [inaudible 00:22:41] in Zapier with Freshdesk where we would get a text if somebody checked that it was urgent, because if something happened to at nine o’clock at night, somebody’s site was down and I’m not checking my email, none of us were.

Bet Hannon:

You don’t trust people and their urgency.

Amy Masson:

And that has been the case. That has been 99% of the time, it has not been urgent, but usually I can look at the text and be like, “Yeah, this isn’t urgent.” But at least I have something.

Tracy Apps:

I had to fire a client once for that.

Bet Hannon:

There are parts of me that have a really optimistic view of human nature. I tend to be a very optimistic person in many, many ways, but I have a kind of a dim view of human nature in some of these things, right? So when I do tutoring or work with people on Gravity Forms, I’m always thinking, “How could somebody mess this up?” Because if they can mess it up, they will mess it up. Or, “How can they cheat this?” Right? So I’m kind of just always thinking in that way. But I have a downtime monitor things that text me when sites go down, like the crucial clients. I mean, not the little brochure sites that… They’ll let me know, but-

Amy Masson:

Most of them will come back in two minutes anyway.

Bet Hannon:

… the big clients, the whale clients, I have those on the SMS and I get a text when those sites go down, and that’s the urgent thing I need to know. And it’s actually way more impressive when I contact the client and I say, “Hey, I got the notice that your site went down, but we fixed it.” And they didn’t even notice yet.

Tracy Apps:

Hey Women in WP listeners, this is Tracy with a quick message from our sponsor, Ninja Forms. Wish you could build forms for WordPress without spending forever, or recruiting help? You can, Ninja Forms is the WordPress form plugin that is both extremely flexible and easy to use. Create contact forms, order forms, donation forms, and more in literally minutes using prebuilt templates easily customized with form logic, upload fields, multistep pages, and more. Just drag and drop what you need, where you need it. Integrate with hundreds of services like Mailchimp, Google Sheets, HubSpot and more, without needing to write a line of code. Get Ninja Forms now at ninjaforms.com. And now back to our show.

Amy Masson:

So we’ve already talked about Ninja Forms, Formidable Forms and Gravity Forms, so are there are any other form builders that we want to discuss?

Tracy Apps:

I know, right? I actually-

Amy Masson:

Contact Form 7, anyone. Contact Form 7?

Tracy Apps:

That was the first contact form I used, I think.

Amy Masson:

That’s everybody’s first contact form because it’s free.

Bet Hannon:

[inaudible 00:25:21] 7, yeah. I pretty quickly went to Gravity Forms though.

Amy Masson:

So I know you do a lot of work with Gravity Forms integrations, tell us some of the cool Gravity Form stuff you’re doing.

Bet Hannon:

Yeah, yeah. So I just did a webinar this week for GoWP, and we got a chance to kind of showcase some of the things that we do. So we do some fairly complex registration forms for clients. For example, if they do, back when they were in-person events, with multiple registration types and early, regular, late pricing and all these different options for things and all of that controlled by conditional logic and different notifications and all that. We’ve done some… I described the Termageddon thing with Gravity Flow, we’ve done some Gravity Flow things.

We’ve done some API integration. So one of our clients is a small insurance company and the platform that they use for underwriting things lets you send info over and get what’s called an, estimates are different than quotes, estimate of the policy, so we can do that. So we’re sending info over to the platform via Gravity Forms and pulling it back with just regular PHP to display a quote, an estimate on the insurance policy. We did a DEI reporting system for a national nonprofit where they’re committed in all of their boards and committees to have diversity of gender and race and regions of the country and all of that.

And so we created, on a private internal facing website, created a system where the head of a committee would log into the site, they only get to go to a landing page based on a custom user role. We’re using GravityView to display things. So the info about their committee is at the top and they can edit that using for front-end editing and then they can add the members of their committee and all of that demographic info, it’s using the polls fields from Gravity Forms. So then it displays these little bar graphs of how many men, how many women, how many non-binary are on your committee and then all of those different pieces.

But because all of that is filtered just for that one committee on that page… But those forms are sitewide, then the committee person, they can look at and they can see the diversity on that particular committee, but then they can look organization-wide at the thing. So it’s really pretty cool, I’m not doing justice to it there, but it is pretty cool. I mean, it becomes essentially a web app kind of thing that people are logging into and doing that. So there’s a lot of really cool things you can do with Gravity Forms.

Amy Masson:

That’s probably a lot more complicated than anything I’ve ever done [crosstalk 00:28:17]. I’m just thinking of, I have done a few job applications and they get kind of long. And the thing I have is there’s no pagination.

Bet Hannon:

Oh, then you use the plugin called Bulk Actions for Gravity Forms made by a company called JetSloth, which I love that company name.

Amy Masson:

Oh, I do like JetSloth.

Bet Hannon:

So the plugin is Bulk Actions for Gravity Forms. And when you do that you can… In the edit page there’s a bulk action, so when you open that tab in the form, then you don’t see any of the detailed information about each field, you just see little blocks for each field and you can select them and move them up and down and you can copy them from one form to another preserving all of the settings and conditional logic and all of that.

Amy Masson:

I knew you would have the answer for me.

Bet Hannon:

Have you ever done anything with fillable PDFs? Do you know [Travis Lepp’s 00:29:12] fillable PDFs [crosstalk 00:29:12]?

Amy Masson:

No, but I have somebody today that literally asked me, how do I get a fillable PDF of the form that’s on my website. So please give me the answer right now.

Bet Hannon:

No, I can’t produce the fillable PDF, but we’ve done it the other way. Typically you have… The fillable PDF already exists. So we did them, and the example that I did in that webinar was we did a daycare in California. There’s like, I don’t know, six or eight state mandated forms. You have to fill out a health history, and a blah, blah, blah, blah, anytime you have a kid that goes to daycare, right? And so those are all available from the state of California as a fillable PDF. And so then you can create the Gravity Form that has all of those fields, so it’s prettier, and it’s nicer and you can type. And then what you do is, then you have that fillable PDF, and then at the back end, it just kind of puts all of the data into the fillable PDF and then attaches it to a notification. So the PDF that you get out looks like somebody typed it all in.

But the really cool thing that it does that people don’t really realize that that plugin does, is you can take the PDF, so like the pre-admission health history for the state of California daycares is three pages long with bajillions of fields in it, right? You could take that fillable PDF, you can upload it into the WordPress website with fillable PDFs and it will rough out the Gravity Form with all of the needed fields. It’ll create all of… Yeah. And it’s AI, so it’s not a hundred percent right, but it’s a huge time saver, it’s amazing. It’s amazing, it’s really a cool thing. [crosstalk 00:30:55].

Amy Masson:

I feel we’re like the biggest geeks right now-

Bet Hannon:

We are.

Amy Masson:

… because we’re all super excited about forms. Tell me more about your fancy forms.

Bet Hannon:

I know, but that’s so amazing. And I keep trying to get more… I mean, that daycare hired us to do that right at the beginning of the pandemic, they needed to do contactless stuff with their forms, right? They needed to not have the parents coming in to get forms because they were hoping to come back to actually have daycare again. Yeah, so that’s been really fun doing those kind of things.

Tracy Apps:

I also, not only through forms and all that stuff, but I know you also work on a lot of accessibility, and I also have been focusing on accessibility a lot too. What is your projects… Do you do accessibility audits or is it something that you include in all of your projects, et Cetera.

Bet Hannon:

Yep, all of the above, all of the above. So some of the best advice I got when we were starting to… It [inaudible 00:31:56] became known that we were starting to work on accessibility was, don’t ever, ever put accessibility into a project proposal as something the client can opt out of to save money.

Tracy Apps:

Yes, yep.

Bet Hannon:

So that it becomes what you do that you’re not going to let the client throw the disabled people under the bus, right? And so early on that’s a piece of what you, what we do is we just do accessible development. Now you can’t always win those battles with clients, right? So sometimes you have to say, “Hey, I know this thing that you got from your designer,” sometimes we work with people that have outside designers, “that salmon color with the white text is not going to be accessible.” And they just say, “Well, too bad.”

And so then we come back and we make them legally… So anytime we do a contract, we have a release from liability, because accessibility is so rapidly changing, anytime the client goes in there, it can go out of compliance, we can’t be responsible for that. So they’ve already released us from liability, but anytime they ask for something that’s not… They push that back and want to do something that’s not accessible, we come back with an additional release of liability that says, “You acknowledge that we informed you that this and other things on your website may,” because we just make an umbrella, “may not meet accessibility compliance. You’re releasing us from liability, and you agree to pay all of our expenses in the event that you are sued.” Because you know if this person gets sued, it’ll be somewhere like New York across the country from me. And I’ll have to travel there to do depositions, or there’ll be expenses involved, that they would have to pay all those expenses.

And typically that’s enough to make people go, “Oh, oh, oh, maybe I should pay attention to this. It’s a bigger deal than I thought maybe.” And so nine times out of 10, they will come back and they’ll go, “Oh, we could change that color.” But once in a while we’ll have somebody that will push it, and that’s okay. And they sign off on it. But yeah, we don’t do stuff that’s not that way.

So we do that from the very beginning, we audits. And what we do is a sampling audit. So accessibility in WordPress is partly driven by theme based things that are the same from every page, like the menu, is that accessible or not accessible? Typically, it’s the same menu through the whole site. And then there’s content related things. Does the image have alt text on it, and blah, blah, blah? So we do sampling audits because that really doesn’t take you looking at that many pages to tell where most of the problems are in the website. So we’ll ask, typically we’re doing 10 URLs, we used to start and do 25, and then we realized we aren’t finding that many more problems doing that many more than we would if we just did 10. And so we helped the client pick a variety of content, a variety of templates, a variety of authors sometimes and get that, typically we’re doing 10. We do do as little as one, but then the client has to extrapolate from that.

Part of what sets our audits up? We’re not just doing a automated thing, it’s human testing with trained people who know what they’re doing to look at everything. And then we also are… We give them a report, it’s a 15 to 20 page report of everything we tested, what we found, what you need to do, what you need to fix, here’s a ballpark estimate. If you wanted us to do the developer-ish stuff on the remediate, we usually don’t do the content remediation stuff, usually clients want to do that themselves. It just gets costly to… You have a 10,000 post recipe blog that’s got to have alt text on every photo, that’s going to be a lot of cost to do that. You just do that on your own overtime. But we’ll give you a ballpark estimate on that. But we don’t necessarily do that.

And then the big thing is we give an hour of consultation time. So then often we’re not the developer of record or their regular developer, and so they just bring their regular developer or their development team or somebody there, not necessarily, but they could. And then we kind of can show them if they have questions about it. Like, “Well, here’s what the screen reader’s supposed to do and here’s what it does on your site.” Or, “Here’s why this is important.” And once you show people some of that stuff that makes a big difference, right? When you explain how it functions for people and how it’s not working, then that lifts the conversation away from legal compliance and into helping people, everybody be able to use your website. So I think doing the human testing and getting some consultation time are a huge piece of… Just really important parts of what we do in an audit, and then we do some remediation.

Tracy Apps:

I agree. That’s nice. Yeah. Yeah, I’m currently, I’m working as a contractor, super, super part-time, but we’ll be taking on a big project with jockey.com and their redevelopment of their site and doing a full audit. And it is a lot of work, but it is so needed. And what I love is that more and more companies are doing this, they’re looking for… We need a rolling kind of check, a pulse check to make sure.

Bet Hannon:

Yeah. And so there are some companies that are at higher risk. E-commerce, 74% of all of the ADA lawsuits in the US are around e-commerce sites. So any kind of e-commerce site, that’s super important. And some of those sites are really going to do more… They’re just really going to have every page, they’re going to really need to be paying attention to all of that, and almost have somebody in house or contracted regularly to do that. Other folks who have legal compliance, so we have, for example, one of our clients that has legal compliance is a state of California water district. And so they have Section 508 compliance requirements, and they just have us come in twice a year and we’re doing kind of auditing on a kind of regular basis with them, because they have a lot of content creators in there. And that focus of those audits is less about the theme-related things and more about, are the content creators doing what they’re supposed to be doing?

So we’ve started using, on that site, the Equalize Digital accessibility checker plugin, there’s a free level of the plugin, and then there’s a pay level. And you put it in and basically it runs on the content. As you’re going to save a page or update a post, it’ll run through all of those kind of things that AI does best, right. Are your H tags, correct? Do you have alt text? All of those. Do you have ambiguous link tags to all those? And so it’s great because it kind of reminds people of what they should be doing.

Tracy Apps:

What are your favorite plugins and tools for using that? Because I mean, I’ve used IBM checker, which I really like. I’ve used WAVE Tool. But there’s so many out there, and I found it’s a lot of personal preference of what it returns.

Bet Hannon:

Yeah. I like WAVE for doing just quick checks. And especially, I have the Chrome extension, it’s-

Amy Masson:

I was just going to ask if you use the Chrome extension.

Bet Hannon:

And primarily… I know our developer doesn’t like that one as much, she really likes the Axe tools. And so-

Amy Masson:

I struggle with those more.

Bet Hannon:

I do too, but I like the WAVE tool because it’s fairly quick and simple to run and it shows the client right away. It’s easy for the client to understand, right? So I can be talking with them, and unbeknown, they contact me about something. They called me about their Gravity Forms, but now let me just run this through, “Oh, you have a problem with your accessibility.” Right? So then I can show it to them.

But more than that, if you go to the WAVE website and you run their website through the WAVE tool, then you’ve got that URL and you can just take that URL and you can paste that in a… You can give that URL to them so they can show it to somebody else and say, “Hey, these are our problems. We have some issues here.” So it’s a really good thing you can show them. And I like that on that tool, you can go to the color contrast issues and you can show them the color they’ve got and then move the little slider, “See, you’d have to go this dark to get yourself into compliance. Or you could go this light to…” Yeah, so.

Amy Masson:

All right, sometimes I just don’t agree with the color contrast when it tells me that it’s not good. Sometimes I just-

Bet Hannon:

Ratios do not lie.

Tracy Apps:

Our eyes might though.

Bet Hannon:

But sometimes the part where you get… All those AI tools, they only find about 30% of the issues. And there are false positives and false negatives. So yeah, sometimes it can trigger something that’s not really there. And typically for color contrast the problem where it’s kind of a false positive is when there’s text on top of an image, and it’s really testing a place where the image is a little lighter or a little darker than the rest of the background. And so often though when you’re going to put text on top of an image, you could just put an overlay kind of a background in the text box of it, and that solves that problem.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah, I have a lot of different solutions for that. I mean, and honestly, even now having some sort of cool filter, or background, overlay, is actually cool and trendy. And I’m like, “Look at that, and it’s also really good for accessibility.” So a win-win.

Bet Hannon:

A win-win, win-win. Yes. I love a good overlay.

Tracy Apps:

I love a good overlay.

Bet Hannon:

But not overlay plugins, not overlay plugins. [crosstalk 00:42:35].

Amy Masson:

No, that’s just crazy talk.

Bet Hannon:

So somebody that I follow in accessibility stuff in LinkedIn put that figure at about, 74% of the cases last year were e-commerce. And I’m like, “Where did that come from? I want to know where that number came from.” And she said, “Oh, it was the UsableNet annual report.” She said, “I really like that because they pull in not just the circuit course court cases, but they pull in the state level kinds of things, especially like California UNRUH Act stuff too.” And so I was like, “Oh, that’s really interesting.” So I go off and I find that report, among other things in the report, it says, just about 10% of the ADA cases filed last year involved a site that was using an accessibility widget or Overlay Plugin.

Tracy Apps:

Oh, interesting.

Bet Hannon:

And somebody said, “Oh, so those plugins protect you?” And I’m like, “No, no, no, that’s an increasing number and we really think that it’s because they’re coming…” There’s an increasing number of cases for sites that, mostly e-commerce, but they’re targeting sites now they’re under 50 million in revenue, right? So it used to be that cases we’re mostly focusing on the big fish, the big, big revenue sites. Now they’re coming downstream because people like Jockey that Tracy’s working with, they’re taking care of these things in-house. They know they need to do this, they know that at that level of revenue this is something they have to do, right?

So now they’re kind of moving downstream gradually, but those… I have heard anecdotally that the accessibility overlay plugins, like if you’re using accessiBee or UserWay or AudioEye, that those are now being targeted because they know it’s not fixing your site. And so those are the things that now they’re scanning for sites that are using those, and that’s part of targeting you for a lawsuit.

Tracy Apps:

Oh, wow. Yep.

Amy Masson:

Mind blown.

Bet Hannon:

Well, I mean, it kind of makes sense, if you think… I mean, they can only take care of 30%, they’re only going to find 30% or so of the errors, that kind of an overlay can’t fix if your search box on your website is a keyboard trap. If you can keyboard navigate into the search box using the tab key on your keyboard, that’s how you’re moving around the website. But if you can tab into the search box, but you can’t ever get out of it, it’s called a keyboard trap. And if your search box is a keyboard trap, UserWay isn’t going to fix that.

Tracy Apps:

Well, it’s like the Black Knight, his arm’s off, but a bandaid really is…

Bet Hannon:

Yep, yep.

Tracy Apps:

It’s Monty Python, I need to watch that film again.

Amy Masson:

Oh my goodness.

Tracy Apps:

“Your arms off.” “No, it’s not.” “Well, what’s that then?” “Just a flesh wound.”

Amy Masson:

“Yes, merely a flesh wound.”

Tracy Apps:

That’s what I think about.

Amy Masson:

Yeah, I haven’t seen that since I was in high school, but of course it… Yeah.

Tracy Apps:

Yeah. For everyone that hasn’t seen Monty Python, he gets his arm ripped off and then it’s like, “Oh, it’s fine.” Because that’s what it feels like, just a flesh wound. That’s what those overlay plugins do.

Amy Masson:

I swear I could sit and talk to you all day, but we are out of time. And now that we have talked about every kind of form, I do want to thank our sponsored Ninja Forms for sponsoring today’s episode. And thank Bet for being here with us today. And before we go, if you can tell people where they can find you online.

Bet Hannon:

Great. You can find me on Twitter @BetHannon. And our website is BHMbizsites, B-H-M-B-I-Z-S-I-T-E-S.com.

Amy Masson:

All right, thanks for being with us.

Bet Hannon:

You are welcome, this has been so much fun.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening. Interested in being on the show, sign up on our website, womeninwp.com. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and join our Facebook group to have conversations with other women in WordPress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Top