Why Web Accessibility Matters

Since the beginning of the digital age, circa the mid-20th century, society has slowly begun to harness the power of information technology. When computers became more...

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Since the beginning of the digital age, circa the mid-20th century, society has slowly begun to harness the power of information technology. When computers became more portable and cheaper to manufacture, this meant that more people could access them. Mobile phones and device miniaturisation are continuing to make web accessibility more possible today.

Current statistics show that about 15% of the world's population is considered to be living with some sort of disability. While this is a significant proportion of the human race, it’s quite apparent that most technology is designed with the 85% in mind. 

Not only that, the web should be fully functional for every single person trying to access it, regardless of their software, hardware or location. Meeting this goal ensures accessibility isn’t exclusive to the majority.

What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility refers to the design and development of websites that are accessible to people living with disabilities. While there are various types of disabilities, there are some that make it difficult for some to access certain types of web content. 

Such individuals at times have to use assistive technologies to access it. Examples of these include screen readers, text-to-speech, screen enlargement, voice recognition and word prediction technologies. However, these technologies only work if the principles have been applied by the website creators.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are some web accessibility guidelines provided by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The current version of these guidelines is WCAG 2.1, although the newer versions 2.2 and 3 are still under draft.

Why web accessibility is important

People living with disability face a variety of disadvantages in their day-to-day living; one of these is web accessibility. When some individuals aren’t able to fully access the web, particularly due to its design, they are considered a part of the digitally excluded.

Disability inclusion aims to address the barriers posed by information and communication technology as this infringes on some of their basic rights. A person living with disability has a right to access any web service just as much as an able bodied individual.

Improving accessibility for your website helps to address any discrimination that it can potentially pose on people living with disability. Web accessibility means “that people with disabilities can equally perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with websites and tools.”

The four principles: POUR

There are four principles that should be the baseline for the design or development of a website to ensure accessibility. They can also be applied to any other information technology as well. A website should be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust:

  • Perceivable: When it comes to perceivability, this means that the content and user interface elements can be identified using human senses. Generally, vision is the primary one, since websites are usually meant to be read. Secondary senses include sound and touch.

A website or app should be built in a way that ensures that there is alternative access through other senses that may be diminished or missing. This is why there are video captions for those who are partially or completely deaf, for example.

  • Operable: A website’s user interface components (e.g buttons and controls) and any of its interactive parts should be accessible through multiple input tools. The site or app should not have interactions that the user is unable to perform.

The website should also allow for errors, making sure that the user has ample time to fix them. One example of operability is that a website should cater for those who might use only a keyboard, for example, and cannot use a mouse. 

  • Understandable: This refers to a website having consistency in formatting and having predictable patterns. Users should also be able to understand and remember how to navigate the website or app.

In addition, it should provide feedback to users, helping them with any errors. In fact, any potential errors a user may experience should be mitigated against through contextual help. 

  • Robust: For this principle, a website needs to be able to be interpreted well by multiple platforms, devices and other technologies, taking into consideration the functional limits of each of these. Users should have choice with regards to the technology they desire to use to interact with a website or app. Also, the coding needs to be clean to prevent errors.

How to become AAA compliant

There are currently three levels for web accessibility guidelines, according to the WCAG. These are levels A (basic), AA (intermediate) and AAA (optimal). The majority of organisations aim to achieve AA status. Compliance level AAA encompasses the standards of all three levels.

  • Level A aims to meet 25 criteria and is relatively easy to meet. However, these websites are usually difficult for people living with disabilities to use. In general, requirements include the ability to navigate using only a keyboard and having alternative text for content. 
  • Level AA has 38 criteria that the majority of people with or without disabilities have the ability to use. It includes criteria such as having a colour contrast of at least 4.5:1. In addition, alternative text should have meaning.

To become Level AAA compliant, you have to meet all 61 success criteria as provided by the WCAG. To help you, the WCAG provides a checklist

AAA sites are mainly aimed at maximising users and the criteria is very strict. This compliance level is aimed at enabling access to individuals with audiovisual impairments.

Some of the AAA criteria include having a colour contrast level of at least 7:1. In addition, there should be sign language interpretation of media content. Having a variety of accessibility tools is commonplace on AAA sites.

If you are considering a level of compliance you would like to meet, first try and figure out who your target users are. For example, if your website or app is meant for elderly users or those living with disability, then AAA compliance is the way to go.

So, choose a compliance level that suits the needs of both you and your audience. Start taking steps to understand what changes you need to make to your website using the chosen compliance level and watch your audience grow, while better serving your current users.

Author: Brandon Busuttil, MD, Digital Grind

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Brandon Busuttil
10 years immersion in the marketing, events and digital sectors, accompanied by an honours degree in Marketing Management. An unmistakable passion for connecting brands and people, fuelled by an entrepreneurial ‘make–it–happen’ approach to life.

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Welcome to our blog on 5 tips for successful IT project management! Discover essential strategies to drive your IT projects to success.

Introduction

Welcome to our blog on 5 tips for successful IT project management! In today's fast-paced and technology-driven world, efficient management of IT projects has become crucial for organizations to stay competitive and deliver successful outcomes. Whether you're overseeing the implementation of a new software system, a website development project, or an infrastructure upgrade, effective project management is the key to ensuring smooth execution, on-time delivery, and meeting business objectives. In this blog, we will share valuable insights and practical tips to help you navigate the complexities of IT project management. From defining clear project objectives to fostering effective communication and managing risks, we will explore the essential strategies that will empower you to drive your IT projects to success. Let's dive in and discover how to make your IT projects shine with effective project management practices!

What is IT Project Management

IT project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and overseeing technology projects to ensure their successful execution. It involves managing the various aspects of a project, including defining project objectives, allocating resources, establishing timelines, and monitoring progress. The role of an IT project manager is to lead the project team, facilitate effective communication, and mitigate risks to ensure that the project is delivered on time, within budget, and meets the desired outcomes.

In today's technology-driven world, IT project management plays a crucial role in organizations of all sizes and industries. It enables businesses to leverage technology to drive innovation, streamline processes, and achieve strategic goals. Effective IT project management requires a combination of technical knowledge, leadership skills, and the ability to navigate the complexities of technology projects.

As an IT project manager, you are responsible for defining clear project objectives, identifying project stakeholders, and ensuring their alignment with the project goals. You must possess strong communication skills to facilitate collaboration among team members, stakeholders, and vendors. Additionally, you need to have a solid understanding of technology and its implementation process to make informed decisions and effectively manage project risks.

Successful IT project management also relies on effective resource management, including allocating resources based on project requirements, tracking resource utilization, and ensuring their availability throughout the project lifecycle. Additionally, you must be adept at managing project timelines, identifying and addressing potential bottlenecks, and adapting to changes or unforeseen circumstances that may arise during the project.

By embracing the principles of IT project management and mastering the necessary skills, you can navigate the challenges of technology projects and deliver successful outcomes for your organization. In the following sections, we will explore five key tips that will help you excel in IT project management.

Now that we have established the fundamentals of IT project management, let's dive into five essential tips that will set you on the path to success. These tips will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to effectively manage your IT projects and deliver exceptional results. From project planning to team collaboration and risk management, these insights will help you navigate the complexities of technology projects with confidence and achieve your project objectives. Let's explore these tips in detail.

Tip 1: Define Clear Project Objectives and Scope

Defining clear project objectives and scope is the foundation for successful IT project management. It sets the direction and boundaries for your project, ensuring everyone involved understands the goals and deliverables. Here's how you can effectively define project objectives and scope:

  1. Establish Clear Goals: Start by clearly articulating what you aim to achieve with your project. Define specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that align with your organization's overall strategic objectives. This will provide a clear vision and purpose for your project, guiding all subsequent activities.
  2. Create a Project Charter: Develop a project charter that outlines the project's purpose, objectives, stakeholders, and high-level requirements. This document serves as a reference point throughout the project, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. It helps in establishing project governance, clarifying roles and responsibilities, and obtaining necessary approvals.
  3. Conduct Stakeholder Analysis: Identify key stakeholders and their roles in the project. Engage stakeholders early on to gather their input, address concerns, and ensure their expectations are aligned with the project's objectives. By involving stakeholders from the beginning, you can gain valuable insights, foster collaboration, and manage potential risks or conflicts more effectively.
  4. Define Project Scope: Clearly define the boundaries of your project, including what is included and excluded. Document the project's deliverables, features, and functionalities, as well as any constraints or limitations. This ensures that everyone understands the project's boundaries and avoids scope creep, which can lead to schedule delays and increased costs.
  5. Develop a Scoping Document: Create a detailed scoping document that outlines the project's scope, objectives, deliverables, timelines, and resource requirements. This document serves as a comprehensive reference for all project participants, providing a clear roadmap for project execution. It helps in managing expectations, communicating project requirements, and facilitating effective decision-making.

By defining clear project objectives and scope, you establish a solid foundation for your IT project. It provides clarity, direction, and alignment, enabling your team to work towards a common goal. With a well-defined scope and objectives, you can effectively manage resources, mitigate risks, and deliver successful outcomes.

Once you have established clear project objectives and scope, the next crucial step is effective project planning and scheduling. In the next section, we will explore Tip 2, which will provide valuable insights on how to plan and schedule your IT project to ensure smooth execution and timely delivery.

Tip 2: Develop a Robust Project Plan

A well-defined project plan serves as a roadmap for successful IT project management. It encompasses various crucial components that contribute to project success.

Firstly, a comprehensive project plan outlines the timeline, setting clear deadlines and milestones for different project phases. This helps keep the team on track and ensures that tasks are completed within the designated timeframe. Additionally, the plan identifies key deliverables, outlining the specific outcomes expected from the project. This clarity enables effective monitoring and evaluation of progress.

Developing a detailed project plan offers several benefits. It enhances communication and collaboration among team members, ensuring everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. A clear plan also helps manage resources effectively by identifying the necessary personnel, equipment, and budget required for each phase of the project.

Creating realistic project schedules is essential for successful implementation. Consider the complexity of tasks, potential dependencies, and the availability of resources. By managing dependencies effectively, you can mitigate risks and ensure smooth progress throughout the project. Regularly monitor and update the project schedule to adapt to any changes or challenges that may arise.

In summary, a robust project plan sets the foundation for successful IT project management. It provides a clear roadmap, improves communication and resource management, and allows for effective monitoring of progress. In the next section, we will discuss Tip 3, which focuses on effective communication and collaboration strategies to keep your project team aligned and engaged.

Tip 3: Effective Communication and Collaboration

Communication is the lifeblood of successful IT project management. Open and transparent communication among team members and stakeholders is crucial for project success.

Clear communication ensures that everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal. Regular team meetings provide an opportunity to discuss project progress, address challenges, and brainstorm solutions. These meetings foster collaboration, allowing team members to share their insights, ideas, and concerns. Additionally, status updates and progress reports keep everyone informed about the project's status, milestones achieved, and any potential roadblocks.

Maintaining effective communication channels is essential. Utilize project management tools and platforms that facilitate real-time collaboration and information sharing. This enables seamless communication, regardless of team members' physical locations.

To foster collaboration, encourage an open and inclusive work environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their opinions and sharing their expertise. Foster a culture of trust and respect, encouraging active participation and valuing diverse perspectives.

In addition, establish clear channels for feedback and encourage regular communication with stakeholders. Keeping stakeholders informed about project progress and involving them in key decisions fosters a sense of ownership and engagement.

By prioritizing effective communication and fostering collaboration, IT project managers can build strong relationships, ensure transparency, and drive project success. In the next section, we will explore Tip 4, which focuses on risk management and mitigation strategies to anticipate and address potential challenges in IT projects.

Tip 4: Risk Management and Mitigation

Effective risk management is essential for successful IT project management, as it helps identify and address potential challenges before they escalate. By proactively managing risks, you can mitigate their impact on project timelines, budgets, and deliverables. Here are some strategies and tools to implement effective risk management:

First, it is crucial to identify and assess potential risks that may arise during the project lifecycle. Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment allows you to understand the probability and impact of each risk. Tools like risk registers, SWOT analysis, and brainstorming sessions can aid in capturing and evaluating risks effectively. Maintaining a RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) log is also valuable, as it provides a centralized repository to track and monitor all project-related risks.

Once risks are identified, developing a risk management plan becomes paramount. This plan outlines the approach for mitigating and responding to risks throughout the project. Consider utilizing risk assessment matrices, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), and agile risk management frameworks to prioritize and manage risks efficiently. Regularly review and update the risk management plan to ensure its relevance throughout the project lifecycle.

Contingency planning is another critical aspect of risk management. By anticipating potential disruptions and having backup plans in place, you can minimize the impact of unforeseen events. Establishing clear communication channels, defining escalation procedures, and having a response strategy for different risk scenarios contribute to effective contingency planning.

Remember, risk management is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor and reassess risks as the project progresses, and adjust your mitigation strategies accordingly. Agile methodologies, such as Scrum, incorporate risk management activities within their frameworks, enabling teams to address risks during sprint retrospectives and adapt their approach.

By implementing robust risk management practices, maintaining a RAID log, and utilizing appropriate tools and frameworks, you can proactively identify, assess, and mitigate risks, ensuring project success.

Tip 5: Monitor and Evaluate Project Performance

Keeping a close eye on project performance is crucial for successful IT project management. Monitoring progress, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), and conducting regular project reviews allow you to assess the project's health and make informed decisions. Here's how you can effectively monitor and evaluate project performance:

Reviewing Burn-up and Burn-down Charts: Burn-up and burn-down charts provide visual representations of project progress. Burn-up charts show the cumulative completed work over time, while burn-down charts track the remaining work. Regularly reviewing these charts helps you gauge if the project is on track, identify potential delays or bottlenecks, and take proactive measures to keep the project on schedule.

Assessing Resource Utilization: Monitoring resource allocation and utilization is essential to ensure optimal project performance. Reviewing resource usage reports and analyzing if resources are allocated efficiently helps you identify potential overutilization or underutilization. Adjusting resource allocation accordingly ensures that the project has the necessary capacity to meet its goals while avoiding unnecessary strain or idle resources.

Evaluating Documentation and Deliverables: Regularly reviewing project documents, such as project plans, requirements, and design documents, ensures their accuracy, completeness, and alignment with project objectives. Additionally, assessing deliverables against predefined quality criteria helps maintain the desired level of quality throughout the project lifecycle.

Tracking Risks and Issues: Continuously monitoring risks and issues is vital for effective project management. Keep a RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) log to document and track potential risks, known issues, dependencies, and assumptions. Regularly reviewing the RAID log allows you to proactively manage risks, address issues promptly, and minimize the impact on project progress.

Implementing Effective Change Control: Change is inevitable in IT projects. Establishing a change control process ensures that any modifications or additions to project scope, requirements, or deliverables are properly evaluated, documented, and approved. Regularly reviewing change requests and their impact on project objectives helps maintain project focus and avoid scope creep.

By regularly reviewing burn-up and burn-down charts, assessing resource utilization, evaluating documentation and deliverables, tracking risks and issues, and implementing effective change control, you can monitor and evaluate project performance effectively. These practices enable you to proactively address challenges, ensure project alignment, and deliver successful IT projects.

Conclusion

In conclusion, successful IT project management requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and experience. To thrive in this field, consider obtaining key certifications and courses that can enhance your project management capabilities. Here are some valuable certifications and courses to consider:

  1. Project Management Professional (PMP) certification: This globally recognized certification demonstrates your proficiency in project management principles, techniques, and best practices.
  2. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification: This certification focuses on Agile project management methodologies, enabling you to effectively manage projects using Scrum frameworks.
  3. PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certification: PRINCE2 provides a structured approach to project management, equipping you with valuable tools and techniques for successful project delivery.
  4. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification: This certification is ideal for those starting their project management journey and provides a solid foundation in project management principles and terminology.
  5. ITIL Foundation certification: ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a framework for IT service management and can be beneficial for managing IT-related projects.

Investing in these certifications and courses can expand your knowledge, validate your skills, and boost your career prospects in IT project management. Stay updated with the latest trends, methodologies, and tools in the field to continuously enhance your expertise.

At Digital Grind, we understand the significance of seamless project delivery and the critical role of project managers in achieving that goal. Our team consists of certified project management professionals who are well-versed in industry best practices and methodologies.

By partnering with Digital Grind, you can benefit from our expertise in IT project management. Our project managers will ensure the smooth execution of your projects, from initiation to completion. They possess the necessary skills to effectively manage resources, mitigate risks, and maintain clear communication throughout the project lifecycle. With their guidance and support, you can achieve project success while focusing on your core business objectives.

Get in touch today to discover how Digital Grind can assist you in delivering successful IT projects. Let our experienced project managers take the lead, allowing you to concentrate on driving innovation and growth within your organization. Together, we can navigate the complexities of IT project management and achieve your desired outcomes.

Even though we’ve seen the potential of AR to make our lives easier (in tech-focused sci-fi shows like Netlix’s Black Mirror), in the real world, a lot of the big glob...

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been synonymous with the worlds of gaming and entertainment over the past decade. And, while using AR has become much more mainstream, it started out as far back as 1968 as this obscure concept that people couldn’t quite get their heads around. Although, the term AR was only invented in 1990.

It is defined as “an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (like a smartphone camera)”. VR, while the more popular cousin of AR, is a more immersive technology, as it completely blocks out the physical world.

Even though we’ve seen the potential of AR to make our lives easier (in tech-focused sci-fi shows like Netlix’s Black Mirror), in the real world, a lot of the big global brands have been rapidly adopting VR in their business models. For the tech-savvy entrepreneur, this is a very exciting opportunity that’s worth investing in and following through with.

AR in the real world

The two most common kinds of AR involve location-based realities and recognition features. You can easily access these from smartphones that have GPS, cameras and several other built-in sensors. 

An example of both location and recognition-based AR is the popular gaming app Pokémon GO. Since its hyped release in mid-2016, to masses of eager fans, it has continued to grow in user, from 84 million active users in the US (its main market) at launch to over 311 million in 2020, with billions of dollars spent by users on the app.

One of the contributing factors is the rapid worldwide adoption of smartphones over the past decade with over 3.8 billion users estimated in 2021—an all-time high. This number’s expected to keep growing over the next few years.

For entrepreneurs, this is the best time to harness the power of smartphones, by exploring ways to incorporate AR into their brand strategies. Think about how you’d like to see your brand from a user’s perspective, through their phone camera.

Global impact

AR can be applied to almost every sector, healthcare, automotive, industrial and entertainment. It has had a positive impact in multiple sectors, with usage continuing to grow each year in several major economies. The gaming sector continues to have the largest AR adoption share.

The economic impact of AR is undeniable, with its usage estimated to contribute over $450 billion to global GDP by 2030. When you combine this with VR, in what is known as mixed reality, the expected impact is even higher at over $1.5 trillion by 2030. 

The US holds the lion’s share of AR adoption and spending, with AR and VR expected to boost its GDP to the tune of $537 billion by 2030. Jobs will also be impacted, with an expected boost to over 2.3 million jobs by 2030.

Regions, such as the UAE, have seen rapid adoption of AR and VR, where its GDP is expected to be boosted by $4.1 billion by 2030 while enhancing almost 43,000 jobs. There’s no denying that shifting realities will play a major role in the future of our industry.

The world is changing, so take note

Technology keeps getting better each year, with devices becoming smaller, cheaper, faster and more powerful. At the same time, content is more engaging, with ultra-fast internet speeds making sharing easier.

In addition, consumer behaviour is changing, with one global study suggesting that 76% of consumers would rather spend their money on experiences than on material things. There are two major trends happening right now:

  • Experiences are better. Consumers want to say they did something rather than bought something. They should be able to remember your brand and the connections they made with other people through the experiences you helped create.

  • Mental health awareness is growing. Around the globe, brands and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to create AR experiences that lift the moods of their consumers, to help them deal with everyday stresses, depression and anxiety.

Consumers are also becoming more socially and environmentally aware.

Benefits of AR

Technology should always be expected to solve challenges rather than be a distraction from reality. Generally, using AR should transform the organisation by cutting costs and increasing efficiency,, making life easier. Let’s take a look at some examples of where AR can be applied in the real world to solve real problems.

  • Retail convenience: For salespeople, instead of moving around with printed brochures and catalogues, they can show potential customers a 3D version of their products using AR. This is especially good for products that are hard to move around.

With AR being a mainly informative technology, customers may also benefit through seeing prices and other details of products displayed on their screen, when they walk into a store with their smart device.

  • Customised user experience: With the growing emphasis on memories over things, providing personalised experiences becomes more important. People are using AR to watch ads in real-time, or watch shows of their favourite musician, right from their kitchen.

  • Training: This can be expensive, particularly where there’s a lot of equipment involved. AR helps by cutting down the need to travel or move around medical equipment, for example. Difficult medical procedures can be practiced by trainee physicians simultaneously, with limited restrictions.

Future of AR

While AR has been incorporated in the vehicle sector (through heads-up displays in some premium cars), this trend is expected to continue in the near future with adoption becoming more mainstream. New and improved smart glasses, such as rumoured Apple AR Glasses, are expected to enter the market at more affordable prices and stand a good chance of capturing the commercial market if this comes to pass.

Smartphones are expected to continue to lead the adoption of AR as they are found in almost every pocket. Holographic AR is expected to increase, particularly in areas like education. This is useful during a global pandemic, for example, with students viewing their instructor through a compatible device. 

As we can see, the opportunities for entrepreneurs are endless through AR. If you can find a mode of application that fits your business model - the sky's the limit.

Get in touch

Want to know more about how Digital Grind can help you up your AR game and create something your consumers will love? Contact us. 


We had our very first podcast recording with the incredibly talented Lauren Haworth

Lauren Haworth is a business professional who actively invests and works with NFT projects – but her experience is that most NFT projects out there don’t have any real, tangible impact in the world (and many are scams or pyramid schemes). We sat down with Lauren to unpack some of her hands-on experience with NFT investing, and to figure out why and how businesses should incorporate NFTs into their day-to-day operations. Lauren also shares her experience with Green Tokens, some practical insights into an NFT project she’s currently involved in that’s bringing education to underprivileged children, and how she makes sure she invests in credible, profitable NFT projects.

Resources mentioned in this episode: Investopedia