What Is the Best Way to Build and Manage Websites for Franchises?

In 2019, the value of websites for franchises is tacit.

What’s less clear is how best to build and manage websites for franchises.

Franchisors have several options. They can:

  1. Give franchisees free reign, allowing them to build and manage their sites without any specific guidelines in place;
  2. Let franchisees establish websites individually, but use templates, guidelines, and corporate copy to unify their appearance and content;
  3. Build and maintain websites for all locations on their own.

Let’s review some of the advantages and disadvantages of each:

1).Independent Websites for Franchises

The laissez-faire approach is simple: give franchisees absolutely no guidelines, and let them fend for themselves.

As the description suggests, this is the least attractive option of the three for a number of reasons, including:

  • The independent approach makes SEO and search visibility an uphill battle. Different locations compete with one another, even when the user conducts specific brand name searches. Moreover, you miss out on all the collective ranking power that a franchise-wide powerhouse site provides.
  • The independent approach muddles your brand message. With no guidelines to unify the messages being broadcast by various franchisee websites, your brand message gets diluted. In extreme cases, brand messages can conflict.
  • The independent approach puts trade secrets at risk. In the past, franchisees have inadvertently leaked trade secrets via unregulated website content that was meant to read as a value proposition. The risk of this grievous error multiplies when multiple unregulated websites are pressured to publish regular content.

While there’s always a chance that everything goes right with the laissez-faire approach, the time saved on oversight simply isn’t worth the risk of damaging your brand and SEO visibility. Option #1 is certainly not recommended.

2).Independent Websites Created Using Templates and Guidelines

This approach is far superior to option #1 because it offers all the time-savings with only a fraction of the risk. Franchise owners are not burdened with overseeing the production of websites for franchises, franchisees get a bit of creative freedom, and the templates keep everyone on the same page.

Unfortunately, since the franchisee is still responsible for developing and maintaining their site, this approach doesn’t solve all your problems.

With option #2, the franchisor still needs to address the following issues:

  • Template sites still require oversight. Even the best templates need to be tweaked to fit the individual, which leaves plenty of room for human error. What’s more, copy-and-pasted templates actually get punished by Google’s anti-duplicate algorithms, so the franchisee will still need to write some of their own content. So while templates will save you time, they don’t completely cut out your site management duties.
  • Template sites leave room for brand inconsistencies. Like we said, even the best templates need to be properly installed and integrated. Even something as small as using different fonts or heading colors can hurt your brand consistency.
  • Website oversight can strain the business relationship. Nobody likes to be micromanaged. But when you give the franchisee the freedom to build and maintain their own website, you’ll invariably have to request changes and keep them in check. Over time, these negotiations over site content can be tiresome for both parties.
  • Template sites can still compete with one another. Without proper coordination, websites for franchises can compete with each other and confuse searchers, even when they’re built off the same templates.

3)Build and Maintain All Websites for Franchises Yourself

The advantages of this approach are too many too name. It guarantees consistency in appearance and brand message; ensures trade secrets are protected; boosts SEO performance via collective page power and coordinated campaigns; consumer feedback to the system can be facilitated, and so much more.

The main drawbacks, of course, are time. There are better things for you to be doing as franchisor than overseeing websites.

ClickTecs can help. Make the big decisions and let us handle the web wizardry. We specialize in SEO and building/maintaining websites for franchises. Call 905-564-0020 for a free consultation with our team.

 

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Beginner’s Guide to ADA Compliance Website Audits

Do you need an ADA compliance website audit?

Today’s post breaks down the current status of accessibility policies to answer that question, then shares some compliance tips and resources to keep your brand protected.

Do I Still Need An ADA Compliance Website Audit?

A series of recent policy changes aimed at fighting frivolous lawsuits has made it unclear to some business owners whether they still need ADA compliance website audits.

In February 2018, Congress passed the ADA Education and Reform Act after thousands of business owners were targeted by predatory lawyers hoping to exploit accessibility laws. In essence, the bill made it harder for lawyers to sue businesses for discrimination based purely on website accessibility issues. Rather than being ambushed with fines, offenders are now issued warnings and given deadlines to complete ADA compliance website audits.

Some business owners see the Education and Reform Act’s ratification as a sign that the threat has passed, but it hasn’t stopped a series of high-profile lawsuits from taking place this year. Almost exactly one year after the Act came into effect, in February 2019, Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment was sued for reportedly violating ADA guidelines in ways that denied visually impaired users equal access to its products and services.

“There are many important pictures on beyonce.com that lack a text equivalent,” said Dan Shaked, attorney for plaintiff Mary Conner. “As a result, Plaintiff and blind beyonce.com customers are unable to determine what is on the website, browse the website or investigate and/or make purchases.”

Shaker and Conner are demanding that Beyoncé’s company make the site accessible to blind and visually impaired customers in accordance with ADA guidelines. Rightly so. Naturally, they’re also seeking damages “for those who have been subject to unlawful discrimination.”

Whether or not you agree with the Parkwood Entertainment lawsuit or the Reform Act, it’s clear that ADA violations still make your website vulnerable. According to the New York Law Journal, there were a stagger 1564 lawsuits brought to federal courts in New York alone last year alleging that companies had not made their websites compliant with ADA guidelines.

Clearly, the Reform Act doesn’t offer as much protection as you think, and what’s more, it’s future is uncertain. Disability activists demand the Act be overturned, claiming that it eliminates incentives to follow ADA guidelines and promotes discrimination. Even now, NGOs across the country are fighting for a more inclusive society via stricter ADA compliance website regulations.

Start Your Own ADA Compliance Website Audit

To get you started, look for these common ADA violations:

  • Failure to include alt text on images
  • Lacking audio tracks to accompany video-only content
  • No captions for pre-recorded audio
  • Inappropriate use of color as the only means of conveying visual information (e.g. to indicate a clickable link)
  • Inability to navigate site via keyboard alone
  • Use of “time limited” features (without an option to turn off)
  • Using page language that is not determinable by all users
  • Site incompatibility with assistive technologies
  • Failure to adhere to the text and image contrast ratio of 4.5:1 (does not apply to large-scale text)
  • Lack of sign language interpretations for prerecorded audio content.

You can find the complete WCAG cheat sheet, which includes perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust guidelines, here. Meeting these standards might sound complicated, but don’t worry–ClickTecs can help.

Professional ADA Compliance Website Audits

We are a digital marketing agency that specializes in ADA compliance. Members of our team are standing by to quickly audit your website, plan tactical fixes, and implement the changes you need to comply with these important accessibility regulations. We use the best tools, WCAG and ADA-approved practices, and a 300+ point compatibility checklist to ensure your site is accessible and liability-free.

Call 905-564-0020 or visit https://clicktecs.com/ to book your free consultation with our ADA compliance team.

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