Acquia acquires access to web content with purchase of Monsido

BOSTON — Users of Acquia’s digital experience platform will soon get capabilities to check the accessibility of web content when a planned acquisition is completed, the company said last week at its Engage user conference.

Acquia is seeking to acquire Monsido, which is owned by CivicPlus. The Monsido platform includes an accessibility checker as well as a set of tools to diagnose problems and optimize website performance, set brand style rules for content and their implementation, and help compliance with consumer data protection regulations.

The terms of the deal as well as the future pricing of Monsido were not disclosed, but Acquia CEO Stephen Reny said he expects the acquisition in early January.

Drupal and Acquia founder Dries Buytaert clarified why Acquia pursued Monsido.

“If your website is not accessible, you’re basically making a statement to a lot of people with disabilities: ‘You’re not important enough to us to make our website work for you,'” Buytaert said. “A big part of our mission is to educate the market. Having an accessible website is no longer a nice thing – it’s a must have.”

Business drivers of accessibility

Most people can read and navigate a poorly designed website or app screen. The number of people who cannot, worldwide, has increased to almost the population of India or China, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Common barriers to accessibility include things like dark fonts on dark backgrounds, poor color combinations, sites that are difficult to navigate and material that is not compatible with screen-reading software.

It’s dawning on marketers that companies that don’t include people with disabilities in their campaigns are leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table for competitors.

Access to web content is a prominent area of ​​site development in the government sector. Contractors who develop websites for the US and many other government agencies must know and follow accessibility regulations in order to get paid.

The accessibility talk at the Acquia show was about how private businesses are catching up to governments with their own accessibility initiatives. WHO estimates that 1.3 billion people worldwide have disabilities, including visual, hearing and physical disabilities. That’s a lot of people to be excluded from a company’s global marketing plan if its web content isn’t fully accessible.

“For us, this is a horizontal solution for the private and public sector,” said Reny. “The Monsido platform is fully available to each of our customers, not just our government customers.”

Example screenshot showing Acquia-VWO CDP personalization.
New CDP features enable personalization of content and e-commerce based on pinpoint data from shopper behavior across Acquia DXP.

Acquia’s customers are passionate about accessibility tools

An Acquia DXP user on Engage who works for a large, well-known consumer packaged goods (CPG) company said that their company regularly reviews web content accessibility for several reasons: It’s an ethical and inclusive thing to do; it extends the reach of their brands; and it also offers some legal protection in cases of nuisance, against which the company defends itself on an ongoing basis.

Currently, this CPG company pays an outside vendor for content accessibility testing; the user said that they felt that the vendor should look for accessibility problems in each review, in order to keep its service relevant to its client. An Acquia accessibility checker integrated with DXP — and not with a negotiated service contract — seems more credible in its findings, the user said.

Another Acquia user, Canadian agency TA Digital, will put Monsido tools to work quickly to create better customer experiences for many of its Fortune 100 clients, said Pat Gilbert, senior director of strategic alliances.

“Let’s say you’re a beauty company. People with disabilities also need skin cream. If they can’t find your products, you’re not hitting it, (and) you’re losing revenue . It would be foolish for you not to appeal to that market,” Gilbert said. He added that private companies joining governments in solving accessibility issues have been a long time coming, because the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines have been around since 1999.

“I used to work in government more, where it was more prominent,” Gilbert said. “But at (Acquia Engage this week) it was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation.'”

In Engage, Acquia also released Site Studio 7.4, which combines the creation of Drupal apps and headless apps in a low-code platform. The company also partners with Conductor, which handles search engine optimization, and VWO, an A/B testing and analytics software company. Conductor and VWO will be tightly integrated with Acquia DXP to bring users their respective capabilities.

Don Fluckinger covers digital experience management, end-user computing, CPUs and a variety of other topics for TechTarget Editorial. Got a tip? Email him.

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