Expert Series: Mickey Mellen with GreenMellen

Mickey Mellen

In 2009, Mickey Mellen with GreenMellen left his day job to start building websites on the side. He was also responsible for running a fairly lucrative blog, Google Earth Blog. After work kept pouring in, Mellen quickly realized he needed more help. So, later in 2009, he created GreenMellen with friend and designer Ali Green.

At the start of the business, Mellen was the sole developer and Green was the only designer. In the 11 years since the organization’s conception, the team has grown to seven people. Now, Mellen and Green operate more strategically, working on the overall growth and projection of the company.

GreenMellen is a digital marketing firm that provides a wide variety of services, including website, branding and design solutions. The company aims to create a unique digital presence for its clients. Its main service is website development and maintenance. Because a website is one of the only things a business can fully own and control, it is an important marketing item to be aware of.

“Our core is building websites, but we continuing to work into other areas to help drive more traffic to those sites,” said Mickey Mellen. “Our mission is to ‘build a brighter web’ by helping empower people to create amazing websites that are accessible to all and solve the problems of their clients.”

GreenMellen has a refined process developed over the years, allowing the team full creative control each step of the way, while also following a rigorous process to make sure they don’t miss any important pieces. This allows GreenMellen to generate completely custom websites for every client, while still being sure to follow solid UX patterns, SEO discoverability, accessibility and everything else that a site needs to run smoothly.

GreenMellen is a unique digital marketing company because it always puts the clients first in very tangible ways. For example, it does not host websites on its servers. Hosting websites would be a great way to accrue reoccurring revenue but could potentially leave clients in an uncomfortable situation of being “stuck” with the company rather than choosing to stay. GreenMellen understands that working hard and providing superb websites is the best way to keep clients around.

Additionally, GreenMellen does not put a “designed by” link in the footers of the websites it builds. This small design feature would be a great way to market portfolio items in real-time, but it only benefits the website creator. Putting this design aspect in the footer of a website can actually have a small negative impact on the SEO for the website itself.

“It goes beyond those two examples, but we always try to do what’s best for our client, even if it’s to our detriment.”

GreenMellen media works to make sure all its websites are optimized for SEO and as ADA compliant as possible. Creating accessible websites means making the sites comprehensive for the widest possible audience. This starts with people that cannot use a mouse to click and rely on a keyboard and extends to users that cannot see and rely on voice-based navigation for sites, along with everyone in-between with related disabilities.

“’ADA compliant’ is a tricky phrase, as they don’t have specific guidelines for websites,” said Mellen “However, as a general rule, I’d say that most sites aren’t compliant by a normal understanding of what the ADA is looking for.”

Mickey Mellen suggests that the first step to creating an ADA-compliant website is to make sure the site is friendly to keyboard-only users. This helps solve potential problems for those who are unable to use a mouse. In addition, most keyboard-friendly approaches are also friendly to screen-reading software and can help cover a wide variety of cases.

Other basic improvements that most companies need to make on their website to help meet minimum standards include putting Alt Text on images and posting documents formally in a text-based way in addition to PDF. Businesses also need to be aware of colors and fonts and videos and multimedia that lack accessibility.

There are three other aspects most sites should consider:

  1. Limiting links that open in new tabs automatically. Let your users decide that, rather than forcing it on them. Along with other issues, this can get particularly difficult for those using screen readers.
  1. Add an accessibility statement to your site to show that you are making a determined effort to make your site accessible to all. For a starting point for your own website, check out GreenMellen’s accessibility statement: www.greenmellenmedia.com/accessibility.
  2. On social media, be sure to use #CamelCaseHashtags, not #lowercasehashtags. This is important because most screen readers will read out separate words based on capital letters but will read lowercase hashtags as a single mangled word. To learn more about this topic, click here.

“The great thing about working on accessibility is that it’s a double win,” said Mellen. “Most everything you do to make your site more accessible is also great for your SEO. Nothing on that list is new information, and we’ve been talking about it for many years. The fact that accessibility is becoming a more prevalent topic is a great thing for everyone.”

To learn more about Mickey Mellen and GreenMellen, visit www.greenmellenmedia.com/about. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest in the home building industry through our Expert Series blog collection at www.denimmarketing.com/blog.

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