CCA Communicator Logo

Empower Your Customers With an Accessible Community Choice Aggregation Website

  |   Insights   |   No comment

CCA Communicator logoCreating a compelling, accessible website is an essential way for Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) to engage with the communities they serve. However, maintaining a balance between full transparency and content readability can be challenging, especially in an industry where the CCA model is unfamiliar to most customers. This article explores key strategies to design websites that both comply with regulations and maximize accessibility, allowing your community to access key information at the click of a button. 

The first and central priority of a CCA website is to ensure regulatory compliance. CCAs must adhere to various rules governing their operations, which may include timely posting of public meeting agendas to ensure Brown Act compliance, publishing financial and legal documents, disclosing pricing information, sharing renewable energy sourcing details, and outlining customer rights and responsibilities. Ensuring that website content meets regulatory standards is paramount to avoid potential penalties and maintain trust with customers.

However, without an explicit commitment to prioritizing accessibility, this bevy of documents and regulations can result in a crowded website that is difficult to navigate and decipher. Adhering to ADA-compliant accessibility standards not only helps make your website usable by individuals with disabilities — these guidelines will improve website readability and enjoyment for your entire community. 

Design Best Practices:

  1. Design menu structures intentionally: When designing and updating your website, take time to reflect on the most intuitive navigation structures for your users. Clear menu and page structures facilitate easy access to information and are a cornerstone of a successful CCA website. Take advantage of widely understandable descriptive labels, submenu structures, and logical organization paths to guide users efficiently through your website.
  2. Keep content accessible: Ensure that all content, including text, images, videos and PDFs, is accessible to users with disabilities. Providing text alternatives for images, captions for videos, and descriptive headings allows screen reader programs to interpret content accurately.
    Furthermore, when drafting content, keep your audience at the top of your mind. When possible, refrain from using jargon, and remind yourself of the core questions that your community may have when learning about different subjects related to CCA programs. Creating specific explainer and FAQ pages for CCA subjects, such as NEM updates, bill interpretation, and incentive programs is a great way to improve customer understanding across your community.
  3. Consistency is key: Maintaining consistency in design elements such as color schemes, fonts, and layout on your website creates a cohesive user experience. These throughlines allow users to get a “lay of the land” more quickly, and help them navigate the website more effectively.
  4. Review your site on different devices: Though the vast majority of website design occurs on computers, many of your users will be accessing your CCA website on their phone or tablet. Thus, it’s essential to check that your site is optimized for various devices and screen sizes. Responsive design ensures that content is displayed correctly and functionality remains intact, creating cohesion and clarity across desktops, tablets, and smartphones. The same consideration and testing should be done for popular browser options like Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and more.
  5. Take advantage of accessibility tools: Installing a digital accessibility assistant on your website allows users to tailor their website experience to suit their unique needs and preferences. These tools enable accessibility features such as text resizing options, keyboard navigation shortcuts, and contrast adjustment tools to accommodate users with diverse needs. 
  6. Regularly test your website and audit your content: After putting in the work to create an accessible website, establish a consistent schedule to check that you remain in compliance with your communication standards. Extensions like Monsido automates these processes, sweeping your site for broken links, images that aren’t captioned, text that is too small or low contrast, and more. Additionally, create a page or form where users can submit feedback — their suggestions for website improvements are invaluable to making your CCA website the best it can be. 

Designing websites that strike a balance between regulatory compliance and accessibility is essential to CCAs becoming a successful and trusted community partner while maximizing participation rates. By adopting these design tenets, prioritizing ADA compliance, and conducting consistent testing, CCAs can create digital platforms that not only meet regulatory requirements but also provide an inclusive and empowering experience for all customers.

Tripepi Smith’s CCA CommuniCAtor Insights series examines aspects of and best practices for communicating the value and impact of CCAs to ensure community messaging is reaching and engaging key audiences to promote their involvement.