Fresh01Blog

Understanding digital accessibility: A fresh01 guide

Accessibility has become an increasingly important topic in web and software development over the last few years. On the face of it, it seems relatively straightforward, but this fairly complex topic has left many confused by what exactly an accessible website is, and whether it’s required for their business. We’ve collected together all of the necessary information to help you understand what accessibility is, what the measures are, and whether it’s something you should be concerned about.

Although this article will specifically look at website accessibility, in the next few years, expect it to become a hot button issue for any information accessed through technology, whether it’s your intranet, training documents, or E-Learning systems. With legal precedents around the world increasingly on the side of accessibility, 

Why Accessibility matters

For those with disabilities such as sensory or mobility problems, the internet can be a mixed blessing. Many services, such as retail, have been made more accessible to those who would have previously had difficulty navigating the outside world. However, in much the same way as a building may be problematic to physically disabled people, a website may also present barriers to access.

As the internet becomes an increasingly integral part of everyday life, there’s a danger that more vulnerable web users will be left behind, widening the gap between information they can and can’t access. This is so important an issue, that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises access to information and communications technologies, including the Web, as a basic human right.

With between 10 and 15% of the global population classified as impaired in some way, and with numbers only set to rise as populations in Europe and the US age, a significant proportion of your potential users could conceivably face accessibility issues. In the EU alone, up to 75 million people could be unable to use inaccessible websites – by no means a trivial number.

In recent years, there has been an increased understanding of the needs of impaired web-users, and this has been articulated in the form of several sets of guidelines created by various institutions.

Website accessibility : The guidelines

Currently, there are a number of different guidelines in existence, but for the most part, the gold standard is the ‘Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0’, often abbreviated as WCAG 2.0. Created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the organisation in charge of the world wide web, they offer a thorough checklist which can be accessed HERE.

Although the guidelines aren’t a global standard, they are currently in use by major commercial and government organisations around the world, and are in the pipeline for use by major U.S. government departments such as the Department of Justice. Similarly, all EU government websites have had to be compliant to level AA of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines since January 2010. They have also been adopted as the benchmark test in Australia following a 2000 legal case against the Sydney organising Committee for the Olympic Games after they failed to make their website accessible using a refreshable Braille display. As such, you should generally feel safe in taking the WCAG 2.0 guidelines as a standard in most countries, and adoption of the standard only seems to be growing.

Because of the multiple standards, and multiple checklists and levels of compliance within them, it’s hard to make definitive statements on what exactly an accessible website is. There is a great deal of scope in what an accessible website entails, and this will vary depending on your company’s needs, budget, and the ability to make certain visual components accessible. For this reason, Fresh01 works to comply with the WCAG 2.0 standards due to their broad acceptance around the world – generally, by complying to these standards, you will be compliant with all others.

So, what to the guidelines actually entail? Broadly, the WCAG 2.0 breaks accessibility down in to four key areas. For a website to pass the standard, it must be:

  • Perceivable: information and UI components must be perceivable by at least one of the user’s senses. For example, this means that blind users should be able to navigate the website using text-to-voice software or a braille reader, and any audio components should also be displayed visually for deaf users.
  • Operable: Users must be able to operate the interface, irrespective of their disability. Broadly, this means that the website must be operable using the keyboard only, as those with motor or visual impairments may be unable to use a mouse.
  • Understandable: Users must be able to understand the information as well as how to operate the user interface. This is relevant for both physically and mentally impaired users, who must be able to understand the site structure and the content within it.
  • Robust: The content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by all users, including those who use assistive technologies, even as the technologies advance. This means that websites must be built in compliance with standard practices that will allow niche accessibility aides to function, even in the future as new technology comes on to market.

Within this are multiple levels of compliance, rated A, AA, and AAA, although even basic compliance will allow the majority of users to access your content. If you’d like to understand exactly what this entails, you can see it here on the WCAG 2.0 website: . As you’ll see, each level is broken into multiple sub-points, replying on multiple different compliance 

It’s important to note that within the WCAG, there are three levels of compliance (A, AA & AAA) and for each assessment criteria, there are multiple sub criteria. You can find the complete breakdown here: https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/. Depending on your business and technical needs, you should expect to try and find a balance between the information you need to display and the necessity of making it accessible. For example, point 3.1.5 requires “a text summary that can be understood by people with lower secondary education level reading ability”. Clearly, this is not possible for companies that need to explain highly complex concepts, such as our biotech client, Source Bioscience, and would therefore entail a cost-benefit decision in which the quality of the content is more important than reaching the highest accessibility level. Similarly, you can make use of accessibility-specific areas of the website, as you can see on the right side of this website, which allows you to keep your standard layout while providing options for impaired users.

Due to the multiple levels, this means that you can still consider the WCAG 2.0 while building your website, finding a medium where you can make reasonable efforts to help all users get the content they need without compromising on aesthetics or design. Irrespective of the rating, compliance at any level with the guidelines will be sufficient to aid access for users, and will greatly reduce your company’s liability to risk.

Why you need it: Current regulations

Aside from the moral implications of having an accessible site, regulations are increasingly coming in to force that can open up your business or organisation to legal risk. As we’ve seen in the Australian Olympic Commission example, in many countries, there are now regulations in place that can penalise your business if it fails to meet accessibility standards.

Indeed, companies in the UK currently have a legal obligation to make their websites accessible to disabled users. Although the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t expressly refer to websites, the consensus is that the ‘provision of a service’ can apply to commercial websites and internal networks as much as traditional services. Furthermore, the wording goes beyond merely avoiding discrimination and can actual require that providers anticipate the needs of disabled users, meaning that there might be legal repercussions for a non-accessible website.

This leads legal advisors to suggest that any large company will “struggle to justify any failure to make its website accessible” (source), and although smaller companies may have defences based on cost or resources, the trend is towards greater corporate responsibility for accessibility.

In the US, litigation has already been seen against major organisations including the NBA, Toys “R” Us, and government departments and this seems to be becoming the norm in a regulatory landscape that is tightening rules on accessibility discrimination (source). Like in the UK, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has created a system where there are legal precedents to invoke web accessibility guidelines, generally the WCAG 2.0. This means that theoretically businesses of any size could be taken to court if they fail to make their site accessible.

Although, as with the UK, it’s generally larger businesses that are at the most risk, Mr. Klein, a Florida accessibility lawyer, has warned that “many businesses find out about compliance issues by getting sued”. (source). As such, it’s safer to have your website checked and audited for accessibility, since it’s no longer the case that companies can plead ignorance over accessibility issues.

How we can help

Fresh01 offers the entire suite of digital design services for your business, with a particular expertise in building accessible digital content. As a BSI Qualified accessible company, we understand the rigorous design process required for building accessible websites, and can deliver a fully-compliant website of any level of complexity, for any company. Although accessibility may seem like a hinderance, its subjective nature means that we can work to create anything you can imagine while retaining as much accessibility as possible for your users.

Alternatively, If you’d like to check if your current website, or other digital content, is compliant,  you can arrange a bespoke consultation with one of our accessibility experts. We can also add additional accessibility features to any website to bring it up to compliance and reduce legal and repetitional risk to your business.

Taking Pride

Over the last month, we have been busy helping our client Just Between Us™ prepare for their attendance at Pride London. The creative brief included the design and production of event collateral including flyers, tent entrance banners, wall drops, pull-up stands and water bottles.

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The event itself was a huge success, with the team at Just Between Us™ receiving great feedback from both the public and the event organisers who commended them on their vigilance and forward thinking on handing out hundreds of branded water bottles to the public, helping the crowds stay hydrated and refreshed over the weekend.

Pride London is just one of the many events included within the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts and one which gave the team the perfect environment to raise awareness of the importance of sexual health and regular tests.

Just Between Us™ is a Source BioScience Plc company, focusing on providing a convenient, discreet online STI testing service which guarantees privacy, accuracy and gives access to treatment and professional advice.

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Fresh01 have a long-standing relationship with Source BioScience Plc, providing creative support across both internal and external marketing, including flyers, adverts, brochures and online collateral. We are also responsible for website design and development and rebranding projects for new business acquisitions as required.  We recently completed another project for Just Between Us™ which included an updated corporate identity and a website redesign. This has given the brand a stronger contemporary aesthetic and the ability to visually stand out online with stronger conviction.

To find out how we can help with your event materials, please contact [email protected] or view our event portfolio here.

Accessibility in focus

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What is website accessibility?

Website accessibility is a big area of discussion at the moment. It’s a vague and complicated world of good intentions versus what is practical and possible to achieve. It’s something that all website owners need to keep at the forefront of their minds when planning every element of a new site or managing their existing one – it is a vast topic and it’s easy to get lost.

This article gives an overview of website accessibility, a view on how it’s measured and shows how Fresh01 has worked towards this in the past and what it is doing currently to enhance its websites. By reading this article technical and non-technical readers alike should have a much firmer understanding of what this topic is and how we can all help.

Are there website guidelines on accessibility?

The short answer is yes. The W3C, that is responsible for web standards (it writes what is HTML and what isn’t), developed the ‘Web Content Accessibility Guidelines’ which is currently in its second version; more often than not this is abbreviated to WCAG 2.0 or just WCAG (wiki entry here on history and with a couple of interesting court cases). However, these standards can be stifling to creatives, ramp-up costs of web build and put a lot of pressure on the client to write content in a particular way. 

The WCAG standards in a nutshell

Without going into each point in the guidelines they roughly break down to the following key areas:

Perceivable

• Provide text alternatives for non-text content
• Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia
• Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning
• Make it easier for users to see and hear content.

Operable

• Make all functionality available from a keyboard
• Give users enough time to read and use content
• Do not use content that causes seizures
• Help users navigate and find content.

Understandable

• Make text readable and understandable
• Make content appear and operate in predictable ways
• Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

Robust

• Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.

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How are the WCAG standards measured?

Now this is where it get complicated, convoluted and very subjective. 

The full guidelines are here:

 https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/  and each point (1.1, 1.2, 1.3) has several sub points (1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3).

Each one of these sub points has a testing criteria and each criteria has its own test in order to achieve ‘sufficient’, ‘advisory’ or ‘failure’. If you have a quick look at the site and open a few areas and you should see the typical structure.

If you pass a sub point it is ranked as either level A, AA, or AAA – with AAA being the top.

Each sub point is a different level and to be level AAA for a single point (1.1 for example) you have to pass each sub point with the testing criteria to ‘sufficient’.

If you fail one point (regardless of level) the maximum you can achieve is level AA. If you fail one level AA, the maximum you can achieve is level A. Even if you pass every  every level AAA, if you achieve lower than ‘advisory’ on a single AA point, the maximum is still level A.

Obviously AAA requires a lot of effort. Where it is quite difficult to achieve this standard is on points like:

3.1.5, “Provide a text summary that can be understood by people with lower secondary education level reading ability.”

There are subjects and topics that are borderline impossible to be written in such a way without loosing their accuracy and without alienating their customer. For example some Fresh01 clients like Source BioScience, Just Between Us, Ubiquigent deal with highly complicated subject matter and some highly sensitive matters that would make this difficult to achieve in some cases.

What does Fresh01 do for website accessibility?

A lot of the guidelines are common sense. As Fresh01 is expert in website design, certain accessibility guidelines, such as not putting black text on a black backgrounds, making sure buttons do what they should – you get the gist – are naturally considered and would not be in any any website produced by Fresh01. For the majority of websites (and eLearning courses) the Fresh01 team has gone with the: ‘reasonable alternative to get the same information’  route. This is Fresh01’s minimum standard and has proven to be quite affective. For some clients that is enough and meets their own personal stance on accessibility.

My website’s not accessible, what do I do?

Everything is subjective and no single person can say if a site is ‘accessible’. You realistically need to conduct tests over many months with many users with different difficulties. Also as content is part of the guidelines you’ll need to review each new page or even blog post once it’s published. On the other side of this discussion is the rest of the web community. If you make a true AAA-rated site, you will likely alienate users who don’t have accessibility problems.

With this in mind, Fresh01 has put several steps in place for the most recent crop of websites that showcase good design with accessibility options for users to choose an alternative view according to their needs. These features meet more of the WCAG standards and aid keyboard controls. Example websites include; accessibility2016.comamnet-systems.com, and center4publishinginnovation.com.

Also within the footers of these sites, the company gives a statement of understanding and its values towards accessibility. This means each site owner can be honest about where their site does and doesn’t meet the criteria and what the next steps are to achieve more. Being honest about how the site performs is helpful for a user, knowing what part of the site they can’t access means they won’t get frustrated or stuck. This is where the ‘other reasonable’ ways of getting the information comes in to play. Even with a truly AAA rated site, having a alternative to contact a real person can be invaluable – even if you are fortunate enough not to have any accessibility problems. Each one of these statements has a real person who can assist if the content can not be found on the site easily.

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Does the ‘back office’ of my site need to be accessible?

This might not be directly considered when talking about the WCAG, but WordPress as a CMS (content management system) is rated as level AA out of the box. Regardless of the front end, employers have a duty to their staff to make sure the tools they use are accessible. Technically (as you will have to exclude content), every website Fresh01 builds is to a level AA standard for updating and using from an administrative point of view. If you are considering a new web project WordPress is a great platform to allow for people with access issues to contribute to your site’s content.

To sum up

Accessibility in websites relies on many factors and is subjective. There is no reason why the WCAG can not be considered while building your website and there is no reason why this should hinder what you can create. It all about make reasonable efforts to help all users and make sure they get they content they need.

If you feel your website is struggling to achieve the guidelines, get in contact with Fresh01 to discuss options and for advise on what you should do next; this could be an audit, tools put on the site or maybe a design tweak by an expert.

Links for further reading

http://webaccessibilityexplained.ca/wcag-simple-version/

https://www.w3.org/WAI/

https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Content_Accessibility_Guidelines

https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/

Reducing the Risk

It’s fair to say the team at Fresh01 is used to thinking on a global scale. So when risk management provider Protection Group International (PGI) tasked Fresh01 with the development of a risk portal to serve its global clients, Fresh01 rose to the challenge. The result is a world-class product that allows PGI to keep its clients up to date with intelligence and analysis on geopolitical events, security incidents and worldwide business-relevant threats on a day-to-day basis.

PGI have long been cutting-edge experts in risk assessment and analysis of global environments, helping to protect human, physical, legal, intellectual, financial and operational assets. The launch of PGI Risk Portal has provided a single, user-friendly mechanism for a company to detail and share daily incident reports, comparative maps and risk assessments. This vital platform helps clients manage their exposure to changing political and security risks, understand their operating environment and minimise business disruption accordingly.

PGI Risk Portal

fig 1: User is presented with a world map of  incidents from the past 24 hours

The solution is a testament to PGI’s global intelligence capabilities. PHP-based, this responsive HTML5 intuitive portal incorporates Google Maps and custom reporting using High Charts. It works on all dashboard and mobile devices to provide analysis on national and regional trends. Clients have the world at their fingertips.

Both internal stakeholders and external clients have been quick to laud the achievements of the PGI Risk Portal and its subscription base is growing steadily. There are additional features and upgrades already in the pipeline.

Tom Bacon, Geopolitical Director for PGI adds: “Fresh01 has helped produce a world-leading risk analysis platform. The powerful design, easy to use interface and excellent information on the Risk Portal are now benefiting hundreds of companies worldwide.”

If you would like to discuss bespoke software developments to streamline your business offering, please contact Greg Feltham, Managing Director at [email protected].  

PGI Risk Portal screens

fig 2,3 & 4:  Each screen highlights key information about various incidents. These are collated every day and distributed to the user’s email. The user can also change view to show the ‘threat ratings’ for each country. Each country has a dedicated profile assessing the security environment, as well as the maritime landscape and the business risks.PGI Risk Portal screen 4bfig 5,6 & 7:  The portal houses thousands of PGI records containing in-depth insights for review. A powerful, bespoke, charting capability allows users to select data sets, customise threats and perpetrators over any time frame. The possibilities are infinite. Each chart produces a graphical representation of data, and allows comparisons across countries and cities.PGI Risk Portal screens 3fig 8:  Close up of chart engine.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 13.33.14fig 9:  The portal is cross browser, device compatible and fully responsive.

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Opportunity knocks

Fast-growing multimedia and graphic design agency with an impressive global client list seeks super fly web developers

Fresh01 is on a mission to find two highly motivated, driven and ambitious, full-stack web developers. The New Year has brought a bumper crop of web work and, in a company that is constantly expanding its reach, it’s vital to increase the team to maintain the highest standards of creative conception and completion.

The developers will be given the chance to flex their WordPress muscles, creating innovative themes and plugins for bespoke website design as well as HTML programming on cutting-edge eLearning courses. In addition, a wide range of other projects beckon with Fresh01 providing the developers with the support and training necessary to increase their skill bases.

Fresh01 is offering competitive salaries based on experience, access to top of the range Apple equipment and an office environment with like-minded creatives. All Fresh01 is asking in return is that the developers each have three years’ experience in developing web sites and web applications with WordPress, the drive and ability to code lean and efficient WordPress themes and plugins with PHP, the ability to work collaboratively across disciplines (IA, strategy, design, code), the verbal dexterity to communicate technical information clearly to clients, integrity, pride and an eagerness to learn more.

If these roles could have been created with you in mind, then visit: http://www.indeed.co.uk/cmp/Fresh01-Ltd/jobs/Website-Developer-24b6da55069ac61a?q=Web+Developer

If you are applying through a recruitment agency or do not have the right to work in the UK your application will not be entertained.

Prop File: #2239 – Kevlar helmet

Prop File:  #2239 – Kevlar helmet

Last used:
Lockheed Martin film shoot at RAF Thetford.

Project:
Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) : elearning project

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Just one of hundreds of props used in the filming of this extensive elearning module for Lockheed Martin. The subject HEAT (Hostile Environment Awareness Training) is one of great importance to the company and only a fully immersive, scenario based, interactive course was fit for purpose. The project was completed over a 4 month period in the UK by Fresh01 for the International Security Operations Team of Lockheed Martin, Bethesda USA. This module strengthens the acclaimed and award winning Second Nature ™, Travel Safety and Security course developed and produced by Fresh01. You can review it on this link.

For more information about Fresh01 elearning and how we can help you, email [email protected]

Partners in excellence

Fresh01 is delighted to announce its affiliation with the Association of Professional Compliance Consultants. It’s a move that gives Fresh01 unparalleled access to compliance experts in any given subject matter and boosts its eLearning service offering immeasurably.

Prior to this affiliation, an eLearning programme would be created by Fresh01 using a client’s content. If the client didn’t have in-house expertise in a given subject then a third-party service would be called on. It was an onerous process that involved the clients keeping up to date with changes in employment law, financial regulations, health and safety and so on. After lengthy liaisons with governing bodies to receive the compliance information, the client would have to spend time working out how best to disseminate the information to its employees.

Fresh01 has been listening to its clients’ frustrations. Ever keen to streamline and take the pain out of the process, Fresh01 has found a way to bring that third-party compliance expertise in-house.

The APCC is a trade body that actively promotes professional standards for compliance consultants. Its relationship with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) places its members at the cutting edge of compliance legislation and interpretation. The APCC’s extensive directory of members regularly advises financial firms that are regulated by the UK’s FCA and the Prudential Regulatory Authority. Any affiliated firms can take advantage of the membership’s compliance expertise and this is where Fresh01 benefits.

The affiliation itself involved a thorough application process that subjected Fresh01 to scrutiny over a period of weeks from both the APCC Steering Council and existing members.

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Once the request had been accepted, a review of Fresh01 and its services was undertaken and the formal application was drafted. News of a successful application came after an anxious few weeks.

Now, as an affiliate of the APCC, Fresh01 has access to its extensive database of compliance experts. Bespoke content can be built into the eLearning course from the beginning, without the need to bring in a third party. Any changes to employment law, financial regulations, health and safety and so on, Fresh01 will liaise on the client’s behalf with the APCC to identify what information is needed and how best to build that into an eLearning course that can be rolled out quickly, efficiently and effectively to members of staff. It makes Fresh01 a one-stop-shop for eLearning compliance-related course content and creation.

Fresh01 Managing Director, Greg Feltham comments: “Fresh01 is delighted to be affiliated with the APCC and be able to give such a comprehensive service to its eLearning clients. Thanks to APCC members, Fresh01’s clients will have enviable, fuss-free, fully compliant, interactive training courses.”


If you would like to know more about the APCC, visit
http://www.apcc.org.uk

If you would like to know more about how Fresh01 can create a bespoke, fully compliant eLearning course for your organisation then make contact today.

Fresh faces

teamphotoThe growing frequency and complexity of client projects has meant bringing on board more talent. Meet the design team newbies making waves at Fresh01.

Ruth Evans came to Fresh01 from a market research company where she was the in-house designer. It had been her first role since completing an MA in graphic design. “Fresh01’s website was a revelation. I was impressed with the range of multi-media services it offered – everything from book cover design to music production. I couldn’t wait to be involved,” she said.

In less than five months at Fresh01, Ruth has worked on website design projects, book covers, videos and storyboarding and at each stage she has relished the challenge. “Thanks to a great, supportive team I’ve picked up the concepts quickly and been able to push that excellence through to all projects,” she says, “because I’ve been learning so many new things, my questioning every stage has strengthened the designs.”

Putting design principles into practice in different media and mastering the software has been fantastic but it’s book cover design where Ruth has really found her groove. Fresh01 counts a major, global book publisher amongst its client base and creating culture and genre-specific designs that embody the author’s vision is a thrill. “Working with the brand parameters and making sure the typography is spot on is as important as accurately representing what is inside the book,” she says. “I’m inspired by the books themselves, for example I’ve just finished a memoir about the 1,000 Islands on the St Lawrence River between the US and Canada – people build homes on these tiny islands so the houses look as though they are floating – now who wouldn’t be inspired by that?”

James Connolly came to Fresh01 through an unexpected route. Having studied design at university, he began working in a creative branding agency as a junior designer. Company restructuring meant the agency was no longer able to support a junior but he was offered a project manager role. For James, it was a great opportunity to hone his organisational skills but design has always been his first love. After a year, he left to take a design role with Fresh01. “It’s been amazing, I’m back doing what I love in a dynamic, supportive team,” he says.

Having been away from design for a while, James is committed to hard work and learning from the ground up. “I’ve been working on branding, brochures and flyers for a DNA sequencing client,” he says, “it’s not something that lends itself to wild arty flourishes. It requires you to be organised, methodical and considered because you have to make sure the branding message is consistent across all formats.”

James’ project management experience is being put to good use. “You have to be disciplined,” he says, “at every stage cross-reference that it is right for the client and the brand. I’m on such a positive learning curve and at a company where I feel supported to do great work.”

Emma Jones studied interactive media at college and design at university. Where better then, to cut her design teeth in the working world than at Fresh01? She’s been involved in book cover design and video storyboarding, learning on the go and enjoying every minute. “Working on the book covers offers such creative freedom,” she says, “but you also have to have the discipline to work within the brand’s parameters, so attention to detail is a must.” Emma says it’s an opportunity for the team to pull together and celebrate its strengths. “I feel so lucky to be able to draw on the talent and experience of those around me.”

Emma’s enthusiasm to learn everything she can and flex her creative muscles is mirrored by all three new designer starters. They represent a significant investment for Fresh01; an investment in its capabilities to take on bigger, more elaborate, more adventurous projects that push the creative boundaries and delight its clients.