• Christina Sjahli

Growing Your Business through an Accessible and Sustainable Website - The Journey of Alisa Herr

Updated: 4 days ago

(Growth Marketing Series)



A website can be a bridge between your business and a potential client despite miles of distance. But people come from various walks of life — not everyone is equally abled. Their abilities, needs, and wants all differ from each other. How can you pique their interest in what you have to offer?



Joining us in this episode is Alisa Herr, CEO of Unity Web Agency. Alisa starts by sharing her journey and struggles to start Unity. She aims to show how important it is to create an accessible and sustainable website. Alisa also shares how her company implemented an equal-pay policy and what this means for her employees. Just remember that as you go through your business process, it’s vital to know your financials. Through this, you can make well-informed decisions for your company’s growth.


The digital world is full of challenges and pitfalls. With Alisa’s knowledge, you can equip yourself to face these challenges head-on. We now have more tools to grow your company and still look out for people and the planet. The world can be unkind and unfair. Therefore, it's our responsibility as businesses for good to use our power to make it a better place.

If you're in a position to make your business more accessible, this episode is for you.


Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Gain valuable insights from Alisa’s journey to start her own web design business that promotes inclusivity.

  2. Learn how you can have an accessible and sustainable website.

  3. Find out what goals you can set to create a better and more inclusive environment for your team and your clients.


Resources


Episode Highlights

[05:50] Alisa’s Journey to Starting Unity Web Agency

  • Alisa learned how to make websites at a young age and continued to do so as a hobby, not as a career.

  • She found herself taking a job as a junior web developer and soon rose to lead web developer.

  • Alisa later joined a nonprofit media agency. However, her job became more journalism-related than tech-related.

  • Alisa missed working with different organizations. With this in mind, she started her own company.

  • There were also some cultural things that Alisa didn’t like when she was working for another agency. She wanted to do it better.


[08:54] The Difference Between Unity and Other Website Agencies

  • The company was initially called Unity Digital Agency. They started with a variety of digital services, from branding to websites and business cards.

  • After experiencing failure, unhappy customers, stressed-out teams, and money loss, they decided to rebrand and focus on web design.

  • This area is where they found out their niche was.

  • From web design, they set their goals to create an accessible and sustainable website for their clients.


[10:32] What an Accessible Website Means

  • Your website’s features can be barriers to getting information to your clients.


"When we talk about web accessibility, or digital accessibility, it's about designing and creating websites in such a way that the information that you're trying to convey on your website or on your social media, or anything, is available to everybody regardless of their ability."


  • An accessible website is designed so that information is available to everyone regardless of their ability.

  • Try to make sure that we are aware of the people’s experience and adapt to make this the best experience.


[12:53] How to Make a Website More Accessible

  • If you have an image, make sure that you have an alt text that describes it.

  • Examine how easy it is to navigate the website.

  • Check to see if the website is keyboard accessible.

  • Accessibility is not only for those with disabilities.

  • By ensuring accessibility in your website, you’re elevating the user experience for everyone.


[17:19] What a Sustainable Website Means

  • Unity gets its inspiration to build a sustainable website from Whole Green Digital.

  • With everything online, we need more servers for computing power. An increase in carbon emitters negatively impacts the environment.


"Everything being online means that there's more and more servers around the world that have to be used for computing power. And it's incredibly harmful from a climate perspective."


  • Unity aims to build sustainable websites that use the least amount of energy.

  • They make sure that they don’t waste megabytes when they code the websites.

  • They also use a server that buys three times the number of renewable energy credits to what they consume.


[20:59] Partnership with Ablr

  • Ablr does accessibility audits and testing.

  • They employ people with disabilities to test out the websites.

  • If the websites aren’t accessible, then they can be fixed by Unity.


[22:56] The Key Components of a Functional and Well-Designed Website

  • The website should speak to the audience.

  • Know your company and the people you’re reaching. Determine your goals, your audience, and your audience’s goals.

  • Use this information to organize your website. Understand the goals, the highlights, what's needed, and what could be removed.

  • An ecosystem analysis is an analysis of your position versus your competitors’.

  • Create and follow a brand guide for the company. Work with the relevant teams to align the company’s brand with the website.


[29:14] Unity’s Equal Pay Policy

  • Alisa admits that she used to underpay herself.

  • Unity did a labour rate analysis last summer. They found that men had, on average, higher salaries.

  • Alisa got the biggest raise from the equal pay policy.

  • Everyone is paid the same amount on an hourly basis.


“We're not tracking time to track people's billable hours, we are tracking time to make sure that our planning is not going to burn people out.”



[34:30] Ensuring Business Profitability and Sustainability

  • Through the equal pay policy, everyone got a raise. Their benefits also increased.


“We started tracking our time and have been able to make data-informed decisions about our hourly rate, or pay how much time we can devote to hourly work each week.”

  • Alisa admits that she felt insecure. She wondered who would work for her when they can go to other companies with higher pay.

  • She realized that working somewhere isn't wholly dictated by the pay.

  • Alisa’s gets inspiration from Dan Price, whose employees make at least $70,000. She hopes that they can reach that minimum amount in the future too.


[36:38] Setting Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

  • Unity has a one-year target, three-year target, and ten-year target.

  • They also have a quarterly goal. Unity tracks their progress on this through a weekly meeting.


“We have quarterly goals. And every week, we are meeting to track our progress towards those quarterly goals. It's a commitment.”


  • Doing a scenario analysis with long-term goals can ensure the company can adjust goals accordingly.

  • Include both quantitative and qualitative key drivers when setting goals.


[40:07] Initial Struggles When Establishing the Agency

  • Alisa hesitated to do time tracking

  • because she didn't like the tracking every minute of her time when she worked for an agency.

  • Alisa later realized that time tracking helps make decisions on hourly rates and pay.

  • Time tracking ensures that there is minimal risk for burnout. They’re also less likely to set unrealistic expectations.


Powerful Quotes


“There's things that, if you don't look out for them, and you're not aware of issues that can be in place, you might not intend to make it non-accessible.”


“You might be doing some things really well, and others not. and it can be present as a completely stop barrier that makes people stop and not be able to proceed.”


“In terms of our inclusion, what we're trying to do is: making sure that we are just constantly learning and being aware of what are people's experiences.”


“That's the initial cause of like, the action of making a website accessible. But the result is that it's better for everybody. It's not better for just people with disabilities, or providing access for just people with disabilities. It's really making it better for everybody.”


“It really comes down to making sure that your website is speaking to the audience that you're trying to reach and making it easy to access, not necessarily in a whole accessibility way. But really, accessibility is about usability.”


Enjoyed this Podcast?

Building an accessible and sustainable website is entirely possible. Alisa shares the value of having one for your company. She also gives us some initial points you can reflect upon as you design or redesign your website. If you enjoyed today's episode of Her CEO Journey Podcast, then hit subscribe and share it!


Write us a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning into the show, then do not hesitate to leave us a review. You can also share this episode with the women you know so they can find financial empowerment. Help us help them get their ideas out into the world and make their businesses accessible to everyone.


Have any questions about business finance? You can contact me through LinkedIn or schedule a chat with me at any time. You can also suggest topics you're curious about for future episodes to help your business grow. Thanks for listening!


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To fueling the life you want to live,


Christina