Case Study

 Testing Accessibility

client: Marcy Sutton · published: February 2023

“This will become a canonical resource for learning how to embed accessibility into web applications. Having it be a natural choice for what's considered essential training for web developers. Very hands-on. I want people to come away with quick wins and tips immediately. In a one-day workshop, I have way too much stuff to cover. With this, we can really elaborate and provide more.“

Marcy talking about her goals for Testing Accessibility in November 2020
Marcy Sutton


Marcy Sutton

Independent web developer, accessibility advocate, instructor, creator

Marcy is a prolific lead accessibility engineer and teacher. Her body of work in accessibility goes back more than a decade and she spent years training hundreds of developers through workshops and talks. She created some online courses over the years, including Start Building Accessible Web Applications Today on egghead, and wanted to expand her work in this area. One magical day she found the domain was available.


We began talking with Marcy about the opportunity to collaborate on designing and producing accessibility training, building on our existing working relationship.

“They’re people I trust,” Marcy said of our team, near the beginning of our work together. “They just really get what I do and can see that there's a gap to be filled with technical accessibility education. So, it feels natural for me to do it. I can lean on the team a little bit to get some help. They’ve done this a few times and been successful at it. I know that my piece of the puzzle is unique and I think there's a huge brand opportunity that they see and I see.”

When Marcy became an independent consultant, it felt like the right time to dedicate time to collaborating on this endeavor. One challenge she was aware of early on was balancing the time and effort it would take to put together.

“I'm trying to really guard my time and energy,” she said back in fall of 2020. “Time is my biggest reservation because I'm trying to navigate a new freelance business and recovering after being burned out at my full-time jobs for the last five years or so. So budgeting my time is a concern, but that's solvable in pursuit of something I care a lot about.”

Between Marcy’s deep expertise, her reputation in accessibility training, our track record in collaborating with partners to produce courses and workshops that sell, and the clear need for this kind of training, Marcy felt confident that this would be a successful project.

“All the ingredients are there for this to be really stellar,” she said. “It's going to come down to execution."

Building Testing Accessibility was an incremental effort over time — from the initial instruction design and email list building, to delivering live workshops, to producing and launching the self-paced workshops. Over a period of nearly two years, Marcy and our team collaborated closely. We carefully built and launched a comprehensive set of self-paced workshops designed to teach learners the principles and effective patterns of accessibility from design to deployment.


#Initial instructional design and email list building

Sept 2020 - Apr 2021

Instructional design

We undertake instructional design as an iterative and collaborative process of creating a curriculum focused on learner outcomes.

Marcy already had a very solid foundation to build on with her many years of teaching web accessibility. We began by reviewing her past workshops and GitHub repos to map out some initial ideas — concepts, processes, problems, assumptions — and overarching themes to potentially work with in the workshops.

We collaborated closely with Marcy over a series of sessions to plan the scope and structure of the workshop material, outlining learner outcomes, topics to cover, and kinds of assessments to create in order to achieve those outcomes.

“I want quick wins all throughout so people have very applicable, actionable outcomes,” said Marcy. “I think the process so far has been helpful to look at assessments. How are people going to prove what they learned? What takeaways do people have from this training?”

Marcy appreciated having our perspective and expertise in instructional design to help her create a very intentional curriculum.

“It’s helpful to have some initial seeds of how to structure this thing, how to make sure that learners are getting outcomes that we planned for,” she said. “It takes a little more time than I would like. It's pretty thought-intensive and a lot of front-heavy work. But, Taylor Bell, who I was working closely with to design the curriculum, put it great. He said, ‘This is a lot of work right now up front, but then it'll make it easier in the long run.’”

Team Member Portrait
Taylor Bell

Taylor collaborated closely with Marcy on designing the curriculum and later transforming the live workshop material into a self-paced learning experience. He provided instructional design, writing, planning, workshop facilitation, project coordination, and marketing support.

Team Member Portrait
Lauro Silva
Instructional Designer

Lauro helped with planning the workshop material’s scope and structure and outlining topics, learner outcomes, and assessment examples.

Landing page

Once the instructional design process was well underway, we created a very simple, bare bones landing page with some simple design elements. This gave Marcy somewhere to point to early in the process for people to learn about the offering, keep up to date on progress, and join the email list.

We created some initial copy that communicated that Testing Accessibility is a work in progress. It gave a sense of how it was shaping up in order to build interest and the email list. We set up an email collection form hooked up to ConvertKit.


People started signing up as soon as Marcy dropped the site on Twitter, but it was creating and announcing an email course in spring 2021 that drove a lot more people to sign up.

Email course

An email course is a great way to provide value to people, demonstrate expertise, and give them a sense of what they’ll learn in the workshops being built, while also helping build up an email list.

Marcy wrote the content, creating essentially a micro-version of the main curriculum. We provided support with outlining and editing to make the course emails and quiz questions even more compelling to complete.

We took care of all the technical implementation, including setting everything up in ConvertKit, implementing the quiz functionality, and running tests to ensure everything worked before bringing the email course live. Having a top web accessibility expert for a partner meant we got the benefit of Marcy’s expertise throughout the entire process, including having her point out some accessibility issues on the quiz page, which we then addressed.

The email course was well received and helped grow the email list considerably, jumping from around 700 subscribers before announcing the email course to more than 2000 one week later.


#Creating, testing, iterating on the learning material with live workshops

May 2021 - May 2022

We helped Marcy host a series of live paid workshops, which would become basis for the self-paced workshops.

Hosting live workshops is one of our favorite levers to use for developing and producing self-paced workshops. In addition to providing value to learners with a live interactive experience including Q&A, it offers the opportunity to test out content and use the experience and feedback received to iterate on the research, design, production and delivery of the material. We’ve found that selling tickets to workshops is also the best way to test whether people are willing to pay for the product and get a sense of where the right price point will be for the final product.

Planning and outlining workshops

Marcy began with planning a single workshop on accessibility tools and testing, which is what fit with her energy and availability at the time. As she planned the material, it became clear to her that a one-day workshop wouldn’t allow enough time to go as in-depth as she felt was necessary for some of the exercises, so she decided to expand the material to create two workshops — one in late October and one in early November 2021:

  • Manual Accessibility Testing & Tools
  • Automated Accessibility Testing with JavaScript

We helped Marcy sketch out an initial structure and agenda and offered her question prompts to take the initial instructional design and use it to outline the live workshop material in more detail (e.g. how she’d present each topic, what live challenges learners would work through, what they’d need to do to prep ahead of time).

Later, after delivering the first two workshops, Marcy used the experience to outline workshops for the other three modules that were planned (which she delivered in February and March 2022):

  • Semantic Markup with HTML & ARIA
  • Design & People Skills for Accessibility
  • Coding Accessible Interactions & Mechanics

Creating an app for the basis of the material

Marcy created a demo application to use as the backbone of both the live and self-paced workshops. It gives a single example site to tie all the learning together rather than piecemealing individual examples together or trying to talk about code without actually experiencing it.

Marcy had the idea of building a travel booking website, which has a lot of components to use as learning examples (e.g. menu, date picker, map, photo gallery). Marcy is big on camping and a lot of outdoor activities, so it was a natural fit to make the app camp-themed.

We provided some ideas on how the outcomes and ideas outlined in the original instructional design could be presented through the campsite booking example, which Marcy then expanded on and fleshed out for the workshops.

Marcy handled the app development and we supported her with the app design.

Team Member Portrait
Vojta Holik
Product Designer & Developer, Art Director

Vojta is responsible for the UI/UX design and development for Testing Accessibility. He also did back-end development work to set up the content infrastructure and provided art direction for the illustrations.

With the second set of workshops, Marcy built out the app further to do live demos and exercises where learners would do more building of things “from scratch” than the previous workshops, with a few shortcuts to allow them to fit within the workshop time.

One of the challenges Marcy came across was getting the app to the right level of robustness and fidelity in the time she had available to work on it as a sole developer.

“I want it to be high quality, but also recognize that the goal isn't to build a fully functioning web application,” she said. “It's to have examples that are learning opportunities, learning moments to see this thing that's in progress. Even that'll take a lot of work to get done, but I'm excited about it.”

Marcy was able to build the parts that mattered to the lessons, and learners could use what they observed to find and fix other intentional issues in the app. This approach saves having to build a full production-grade app while serving key learning goals.

One of the other challenges that Marcy faced as she built out the app for the later workshops was how she needed to iterate on it to accommodate what she needed to teach in later modules.

“I've been changing the repo, so it's in videos and in examples as being structured a certain way. And now I've changed it to accommodate all of the material for all five workshops and I'm still ironing out some of that for the next three,” she said. “So there's some editing that'll have to be done to make sure all of the resources that people are learning from match the code that they're working on.”

Selling tickets and delivering workshops

Based on our past experience with selling workshops, we set the pricing structure for individual workshops at $599 and a bundle offer of $900 for three workshops. We included discounts for individual workshops (early bird purchasers got 50% off and previous live workshop purchasers got 65% off) and for early bird purchases of the bundle ($200 off).

With Marcy handling the content and delivery, we took care of all the logistical details — including setting up event pages in Tito and connecting Stripe to sell tickets and collect payments, setting up calendar invites and reminder emails for attendees, creating learner feedback forms — and helped handle any customer questions that came up.


Marcy appreciated our helping her market the workshops (including supporting her in delivering a livestream and emails) as well as the support we provided during the workshops themselves.

“Taylor's emails to get marketing out to warm up the email list and promote the upcoming workshops have been super helpful because that's an area of writing that I struggle with,” says Marcy. “Also having Taylor in the live workshops has been helpful because he's so practiced at being a facilitator in events.”

We typically aim for between 5 and 30 attendees per workshop, ideally with a smaller teacher to learner ratio. Marcy’s series of workshops sold very well with 13 tickets for the first one in October, 17 for the second in November, and the last three in February and March selling out completely with 30 bundle buyers and a few additional individual seats sold.

Learner interviews and learner survey

We invited workshop attendees to chat in advance of the workshop to learn more about what made them sign up. We asked what they’d been learning about accessibility up to now and what they’d found challenging about it. We also asked how they expected to use and benefit from the understanding they’d gain from learning more. At around the same time, we created an email survey to find out what kinds of job roles were represented on the email list. We handled all the logistics of setting up the interviews and survey and summarized the findings for Marcy.

Some of the learnings included confirming that the majority of Marcy’s audience were developers, although people in a variety of roles and technical ability were interested in the training and found it helpful. Getting a sense of who was interested and what they struggled with uncovered new topics to explore in the material and later informed the content for the landing page as well as how we structured the tiers for the self-paced workshops.

Second round of workshops

We had begun prototyping the self-paced workshops in Notion with lesson-sized clips from Marcy’s first live workshops accompanied with written content. Given the format was working well, we decided to lean into it and continue to use clips from Marcy’s live workshops for the self-paced version. To address learnings from the first round and to get the video assets nailed down, Marcy did a second round of all five workshops plus a new beginner’s workshop to cover some important foundational topics. The second round of live workshops ran over a three-week period from late April to early May 2022.

We met with Marcy to outline issues uncovered in delivering the first series of workshops. Marcy made adjustments to the material based on learner feedback, the experience teaching it, as well as changes she needed to make for the self-paced version.

For example, the first time she gave the Design and People Skills workshop, she showed examples of inaccessible features on third-party websites for live demos and exercises for the sake of expediency. She needed to fold those examples into the CampSpots universe for the self-paced version so all references would be to things that she could control (no third-party sites that could be redesigned, taken down, or cause copyright issues). She also made a lot of changes to the automated testing module with new teaching examples and added the sixth workshop to teach the common vocabulary in accessibility and help learners understand the business case for it.

Marcy delivered the second round of workshops as a three-week masterclass that took learners from foundations of how to approach accessibility before writing a single line of code and working all the way through setting up continuous integration to run automated test suites before deployment. We sold 38 tickets (including tickets for individual workshops and bundle tickets for the full series).

Balancing time and energy working on Testing Accessibility

As Marcy worked on creating and delivering the live workshops, she made some choices on how to balance the time and energy she focused on working on Testing Accessibility with her work as an independent consultant.

“I cleared my schedule of billable work for a while to get the first two workshops off the ground,” she said. “My energy was dwindling toward the end of the year, so I had to clear my schedule of billable work to be able to focus. Once the new year started, I had more energy to manage client work alongside my work on Testing Accessibility. It's really been a learning process of what this new world is like. I'm so glad that I am independent and part-time because after going through major burnout, this project wouldn't be possible if I had a full-time job.”


#Creating and marketing self-paced workshop

Nov 2021 - Jul 2022

Transforming live workshop content into self-paced material

The process of creating the self-paced material overlapped with Marcy’s delivery of the live workshops. After Marcy delivered her first two live workshops in the fall of 2021, we began helping her transform the recordings into text-based lessons with supplemental video clips from the live workshops. We cut the workshops into lesson-sized segments (guided by the instructional design documents). We also collaborated with Marcy on crafting the text instruction, adding links to additional resources, and creating learning challenges and exercises with worked-out solution exercises to cement learning.

Marcy says she liked creating this hybrid format for the self-paced version that a wider range of types of learners might benefit from.

“I think we need the video in there to capture some of the spirit of the live workshops because when I'm presenting, I'm giggling and cracking jokes,” said Marcy. “That spirit or that energy, I just don't know that you can really capture that in writing. But we also intersperse it with short paragraphs, code snippets, very scannable content to give you these landmarks to let your brain sink into and digest. Then maybe you go back and read the text a little more.”

Team Member Portrait
Taylor Bell

Taylor provided core writing and editing support for the self-paced workshops and lead the collaborative effort to transform the live workshop material into a self-paced learning experience.

Team Member Portrait
Zac Jones

Zac provided writing and editing support for transforming the live workshop material into a self-paced learning experience.

Marcy appreciated our help and expertise in designing and structuring the learning experience in a self-paced format, particularly where she was more used to doing live-only training.

“I think it's helping me kind of get out of ruts,” said Marcy. “I really trust their opinion. If they think something's going to resonate and be helpful, that's great, because then I don't second guess myself. I don't know that I would be able to make those decisions as well on my own. In fact I know I couldn't. I wouldn't be creating this self-paced version if it wasn't for the collaboration.”

We prototyped the manual and automated testing modules while Marcy was still in the process of delivering live workshops, which allowed her to adjust her approach for the next workshops. The learner feedback during the second round of workshops was also helpful in iterating on the self-paced material, offering insight on additional topics to include. We staged the material in Notion as an incremental step before doing a full design on the site.

Visual design

As the content progressed and we got closer to having the self-paced product ready for launch, we moved to creating more elevated graphic design for the website to give the property its own consistent visual style.

We asked Marcy to put together a mood board to capture her overall style and checked in with her throughout the design process to make sure we created something delightful that would reflect her vibe.

Team Member Portrait
Michelle Holik
Illustrator & Product designer

Michelle created all the delightful illustrations, helping translate the concepts taught in Testing Accessibility into a hiking/camping visual narrative.

The illustrations and site design center around a metaphor of exploring nature — reflecting Marcy’s love of hiking and camping. They compare the whole learning experience to an outdoor journey and thoughtfully tie in what’s being taught in each module.

Platform infrastructure

We developed a full-stack serverless platform for Testing Accessibility in a monorepo. We used next.js, Prisma, PlanetScale and Stripe to create a full commerce setup handling core concerns such as authentication, prices, single and bulk purchases, discounts, and purchasing power parity. We also integrated Sentry for monitoring. Using Turborepo, we’re able to extract the reusable parts of the site into components for other partner products we’re working on.

Team Member Portrait
Joel Hooks
Executive Producer & Tech Lead

Joel provided direction and guidance for the development and production of Testing Accessibility throughout the process. He also served as the technical architect and lead developer for the course infrastructure.

We are using Sanity as a CMS, which provides a delightful environment to design the content model and query it through a fast CDN for delivery to learners. It allows us to do content edits on the fly without redeploying (as opposed to needing to redeploy the entire site to fix even a single typo). We also use Mux for video delivery and added Algolia for search functionality. We added a comment model and feedback mailer mechanism so learners could send feedback and we setup progress tracking using Prisma.

As part of our work on the platform, we created an information architecture and later migrated all the content into the CMS.

Team Member Portrait
Nicoll Guarnizo
Associate Producer

Nicoll helped migrate Testing Accessibility’s content into the course infrastructure.

Marcy particularly appreciated how we baked in accessibility in the platform infrastructure and responded to her feedback as issues arose.

Product tiers and pricing

With six modules of content, we decided to go with a three-tiered approach for the launch: Foundation (2 modules included), Core (3 modules included) and Professional (all 6 modules).

We had several people note during the live workshop series that under $500 was the price they could pay without asking for approval, so we decided to keep the pricing within that range. To make it an even easier decision for people to buy, we did a two-week launch discount of 40% off.

Review and testing

In preparation for launch, we had several team members work through the finished workshops with fresh eyes from the learner point of view to identify and address errors, bugs, missing pieces, or updates needed because of changes in the CampSpots app repo. For some additional third-party testing, we recruited several learner advocates and volunteer reviewers to work through the content and provide their takeaways, feedback, and generally making sure things work.

Team Member Portrait
Alana Hubbard, Megan Reckner, Lucas Minter, Cree Provinsal
Content Review and Production Team

Alana, Megan, Lucas, and Cree did UX testing on the workshop modules to identify and fix quality issues ahead of the launch and updated content assets such as images and code blocks.

Right before the launch, we took a few measures to stress test the site’s tech before the full sale. We did an internal final QA of the purchase flow on the site, invited previous workshop attendees to access the content for free, and ran a limited early access presale with people who highly engaged with the email course to purchase a few days early. This helped surface a bug we were able to fix before opening the floodgates for hundreds of purchases.

Marketing and content

In the months leading up to the launch, Marcy wrote emails that we then published as articles on the site, helping to provide value to learners and also boosting the site’s SEO. We helped provide Marcy with ideas about what kinds of questions or topics she could tackle in an article. When Marcy found a site that had a lot of the accessibility fails she was addressing in one section of her workshop, we encouraged the idea of doing accessibility reviews to help showcase examples of accessibility fixes needed — which she enthusiastically took on.

We collected testimonials from past workshop attendees to highlight the results and benefits people saw from their learning experience. We created an updated long-form landing page that reflected in detail what people would get out of the self-paced workshop.

As the launch approached, we helped Marcy create a series of emails to send out before and during the launch to share value, let them know when the self-paced workshop was available for purchase, and explain how it would help them build accessible web applications. We also provided tweet starters and guidance on ramping up the promotion in the lead up to and during launch through Twitter and LinkedIn.


#Launching the self-paced workshops

July 2022

After nearly two years of planning, creating, researching, testing, iterating, and building, Testing Accessibility launched on July 13, 2022.

“I was super excited, clear-headed, and feeling positively electric,” said Marcy, thinking back on the launch day. “We had worked very hard for months – years, actually – and it was finally time to show the world what we’d created. I didn’t know we were launching that day exactly when I made plans earlier in the week to have my van worked on and to have lunch with my family in Seattle. So I was on the road when we launched and I recorded an announcement video from a parking lot. Something people might not realize is that I was 10 days out from giving birth to a baby girl. While I was all business for the launch, I also looked very different from the neck down!”


Given the validation received during the process of building Testing Accessibility — including the workshops sold and feedback received throughout the process — we felt confident that the product would sell well during the launch.

The launch was a successful one with more than 500 purchases within the two-week launch period. Even after project expenses, the sales from the self-paced workshops made more than six figures in revenue.

It was also an extremely smooth launch, with a relatively small number of customer support requests for things like billing or login issues, which speaks to how well the platform infrastructure works. We took care of all support requests on Marcy’s behalf and fixed any QA issues that popped up.

Testing Accessibility has been well-received by learners. Several people have upgraded their purchase to a higher tier to continue learning more.


“I was really impressed with the feedback and results of the initial launch period,” said Marcy. “My accessibility training seemed to meet a real need in the industry and people gave us a lot of great responses. The team was also amazing to work with — they have been instrumental in helping me with this while I’ve undergone a giant life change of starting a family.”



August 2022 — ongoing

In the months that followed the launch period, we continued to provide customer support, identified and fixed remaining bugs, and worked on improving purchase and upgrade flows. As her capacity allowed, Marcy wrote additional emails and articles for the site as it fit her capacity, pulling some inspiration from questions from Twitter and customer emails.

We ran a sale for Black Friday, promoting it through email and on Marcy’s social channels. We decided to run the sale for a week to allow time for getting approval for those learners looking for their company to pay for the workshops. The sale resulted in a nice spike in purchases, with a total of 110 made during the week.

Since the initial release, we’ve gathered ideas for what to improve and add based on the feedback received, which Marcy notes will have a big impact as she continues to work on Testing Accessibility.

“Some of the notes we’ve gotten from people have shaped how I’ll think about it going forward,” she says. “For example, creating even more advanced content for folks who want to dig deeper below the surface. I want to continue crafting meaningful accessibility resources for a wide range of experience levels.”

Marcy says it’s been very meaningful to execute and continue to follow through on such a big initiative on something that is so important to her — web accessibility — and she’s excited to continue working on Testing Accessibility.


“Bottling up my years of experience and providing self-paced training for people to do on their own time has been very fulfilling,” she says. “I had this idea brewing in my head for years and it took a long time to execute for various life reasons. To be able to witness the launch and continued maintenance of the project, along with plans for more content in the future, I am still over the moon about it.

While I love the idea generation and experience that comes from client consulting projects and speaking engagements, I am thrilled to put my energy into my own project and bring more content and ideas to life. It’s a commitment to this big beautiful thing we created, to the people who signed up to learn and read content from me. It’s also a commitment to people with disabilities needing a more accessible world. I’m balancing this with being a new mom, and it’s honestly been the best chapter of my entire life. I’m grateful to be here.”

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