I’m excited to let you know that I’ve just launched my web accessibility book, ‘How to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0’ as a kindle download on Amazon.

Here are a few links, but searching in your local Amazon should find it:

UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B015DC58L0
USA – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015DC58L0
Canada – http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B015DC58L0

P.S. The kindle version is also part of the full package, available at www.wuhcag.com/wcag20

Now that I’ve written about all of the Level A and Level AA guidelines, it’s time for a break from this blog. I know you’re devastated by that news, but don’t worry! I’m leaving you with some options so you don’t feel alone in the world of web accessibility.

Here’s what to do until I blog again:

  1. Join my newsletter. You get two emails a month sharing the best resources about web accessibility.
  2. Take the Level A course. It’s a free 100-day course that will walk you through developing a Level A website.
  3. Comment on articles. I’ll still be working (just not blogging), so I’ll still reply to every comment on my older posts.
  4. Start your Christmas shopping. There’s less than two months left, here’s my reading list if you’re stuck for ideas for your family.

Throughout November I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo, attempting to write a novel of 50,000 words in a month. If you’re interested, you can read the whole thing for free on WattPad.

I hope all is well with you, if you want to get in touch please leave a comment for me.

How to Meet the WCAG 2.0What a week it’s been! May 9th was Global Accessibility Awareness Day (or #GAAD) and many of you took advantage of the $1 offer I ran on How to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. It was a great few days for me personally, with over 100 of you opting to take a punt on 69p for a book. I’d like to thank everyone that bought a copy, I hope you learn from the book and it helps you improve your websites.

With great success, comes plenty of problems. I’ve had my fair share of issues with this site since it launched and squeezing 100 customers into such a short period really put these into perspective. It’s been a reminder that work on a website (accessibility or otherwise) is never done. We must always be ready to learn from experience, customer comments and downright failures. Getting things wrong isn’t a problem if you handle it well and make it right. Getting things wrong and ignoring them is a sin.

PDF accessibility

I’ve known since I launched my book that it wasn’t as accessible as it could be (be warned, this is the first of several ironic confessions). As with many accessibility decisions, this was down to cost. When I wrote the book, I had no money to spend but I knew it had to be professional looking to sell. I worked with a great designer, Jess Horton, to get the cover and the interior layout looking great. That process took up everything I had budgeted for the book production, there was no money to work with a PDF accessibility expert to make that part of the offer right.

I wasn’t happy with this at launch, but I had no choice if I wanted my product on the market. I researched PDF accessibility the best I could, but simply didn’t have the programs necessary for PDF creation. Again, this was something I couldn’t afford.

A few days after launch I got an email from a customer calling me out for my failure. I knew she was right, but all I could do was apologise and send a refund.

I got another question on May 10th, from a customer who couldn’t access the book. After investigation it turned out that the security settings on the book were interrupting their screen reader. I sent an unprotected version over and everything was fine.

Both problems stung me, to the point where I felt like a fraud for even daring to think I was smart enough to be teaching people about something I couldn’t afford to do. I know that every business has problems, but when it’s just you in charge of all aspects of a product, it’s hard not to be disheartened.

Checkout problems

Just like the PDF problems, I’d had a few checkout issues before the sale. They seemed confined to when people had used card payments and not PayPal, so I removed the option (as you can use a card without a PayPal account anyway).  I put it down to a natural problem of using a free shopping cart (WooCommerce) and free plugins. There’s only so much you can expect when you’re not paying for a service.

Fortunately for me, people were paying for my product. Unfortunately, that meant I was at fault for any problems. You can’t take people’s money and stop caring about them – you’re getting into a long-lasting relationship if you do it right. Again. the volume of customers during the sale increased this problem. Even with just PayPal as an option, customers were not getting their download link onsite or via email. I had to spend time individually emailing unhappy and confused customers.

Hopefully, my responses were quick enough and polite enough to win those people back round. One thing I learnt working customer service is that unhappy customers are the best if you can impress them – everyone expects a smooth service, but reacting well to a problem can set you apart.

WordPress themes

When I first launched this site, I started an accessibility changelog. The idea was to document how I tuned a vanilla theme into a perfectly accessible one over time. That went great for a few months, until the theme was updated and no longer worked with my shopping cart. The resulting chaos pretty much set the theme back to where it began, not even Level A compliance.

How can I run a site that sells an accessibility book, that isn’t accessible? Again, I feel like a fraud. I know that I need a bespoke website. I need to work with a designer to build a theme that does everything I want it to do. As ever, the issue is financial. In the next few weeks I’ll be starting back at Guideline 1.1.1 and bringing the site back to Level A standard.

Just to kick me while I was down, my theme began to have issues with my Content Delivery Network (CDN). For a week or so before the offer, my site was completely down. I tried to get the two talking, but they were having none of it. In the end I simply switched off the CDN. Speed is great, but uptime is better.

Ways to help people

From the feedback I got from my issues, I’ve learn one important thing about how I will treat people. If there’s something inaccessible about a website or product, don’t shoot your mouth off about it. Point it out in a helpful way, offer guidance if you can and always be polite. It’s not nice getting bad feedback, although it’s important for progression, so try and be polite. Complaining and blaming won’t get you very far if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know much about web accessibility. Website owners are only human, if you attack them they are more likely to go into their shell rather that work harder to fix the problem.

Time for you to help

You’ve already helped me so much in the last week, by getting behind my book and sharing it on social media. I’m grateful for every sale and I love having over 100 people reading something I’ve written. All of the above comments must be taken in context with just how pleased I am with my book and the kindness of you all for buying it.

With a small amount of capital in my PayPal account, I’m ready to take the next step forward for Wuhcag. Here’s where I need your guidance – what do I do with the money? Here’s what I need:

  • A more accessible PDF version of the book
  • A better e-commerce system
  • A bespoke WordPress theme

Which of these would you like to see me work on next?

PDF accessibility means finding designers who can work with my existing book and get it to the next level.

Or should I upgrade my e-commerce system to a paid version with real support?

Perhaps I’d be better looking at making a bespoke WordPress theme (AccessPress?). I could work with a developer on an accessible e-commerce theme (either that works with WooCommerce or something else). The benefits of this would be a premium theme to sell on and getting exactly what I want. The downside is that I’d need a lot more than 100 books at $1 each to do this. Would I be better making smaller steps with the idea of making more money in the long run?

So, it’s over to you. Can you help out with my decision-making, or do you offer the services I need? Did you buy my book, how are you getting on with it?

How to meet the WCAG 2.0
Buy the book

As you’ve probably guessed, today is the launch of Wuhcag.com. I thought I’d kick off this new site and blog with the story of how I got Wuhcag up and running and what I want it to do next.

Allow me to introduce myself; I’m Luke, the author of How to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. I made this site mainly to sell my book and make money from you, the reader. Let’s get that clear from the outset, this is a website for making me money. I’m not here to give you some platitudes about how my passion for web accessibility beats out my need to make a living. I hope that from engaging with this site you will see that I have a passion for web accessibility and the WCAG 2.0. I desperately want to make the internet a more inclusive place – I wouldn’t couldn’t write a book about something I don’t care about.

Wuhcag will be the home of all my web accessibility content from now on. As well as my book, I’m going to bring out a (free) email course that will show you exactly how to comply with the first level of WCAG 2.0. I’ll also be giving away advice on certain guidelines and issues on this blog. That’s all free for you too. Eventually, there will be more advanced email courses and I hope this site will become a huge resource for WCAG 2.0 compliance.

I wrote How to Meet the WCAG 2.0 in late 2011 to early 2012, producing content as I learned about it. Since then I have developed a passion for web accessibility and you might have spoken to me in various forums or in the comments of blogs (hello again if we’ve met before). I wrote the book for my use to begin with, then decided to turn it into something commercial. I spent a few months editing the book, making sure I was choosing the best material and giving the clearest advice. Next I made use of some sweet networking to bag a free (but high quality) proofreader.

The last few months have been spent working with my brilliant book designer to produce a professional standard ebook, that looks the part and does the content justice. This isn’t just another ebook, it’s the product of months of hard work from a team dedicated to making an excellent product. And that’s exactly what I believe we’ve done.

So what’s next?

I want How to Meet the WCAG 2.0 to be a living document to an extent. Standards and technologies change and the book will show that. I’ll let you know when I’m working on a change an I’ll make sure I’m fair to people who bought the old version. If you have suggestions for changes, you can contact me or leave comments on future blogs about the guidelines.

I’ll be using this very site as a testing ground too. Right now it’s using an out-of-the-box theme I bought from ThemeForest called MayaShop. It’s a great theme to begin with, clean and responsive with plenty of options. As I publish blog posts, I’ll be updating the site and improving my web accessibility so that you can see first hand how easy the techniques are if they are explained to you correctly.

In a few months I’m going to offer my own services for sale on the site too. There’ll be a fixed price web accessibility or WCAG 2.0 audit as well as an hourly consulting rate. This is the beginning of a long journey, one that has begun with hard work and will take plenty more to sustain.

Whatever I do with Wuhcag, I’ll be honest about it. When I’m trying to sell you something, I’ll tell you. I won’t cloak it in marketing or pretend I’m being purely informative just to be a nice guy. I am a nice guy, but I’ve got to eat.

What do I want from you?

I want you to buy the book.

I also want you to engage with Wuhcag. Tell me what you like about the site, the blog and the products, and tell me what you don’t like. Tell me what you don’t understand and I’ll try to help you out. Tell me what extra help you need and I’ll try to create something for you. Tell me about your life with web accessibility and the WCAG 2.0.

Lastly, I want you to subscribe to my newsletter up there in the right-hand sidebar. It’s free and I wont use it for anything other than to send you updates about Wuhcag. It’s not a rehash of the blog or a sales pitch, just a friendly notice that something has happened. At most, you’ll get one email a month. After all, I’ve got better things do to than talk to you all day.