[thelist] Is accessibility god, or just an angel? WAS: How do I submit...

Christian Heilmann codepo8 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 21 20:19:29 CDT 2005

> > That's where gradual enhancement comes in. Accessibility is the basic
> > need, then you  can enhance...
> Agreed, but I'd add the caveat: the solution needs to be accessible *to
> the target audience*, and not to anyone else. 

But on the web the target audience is never the whole audience. That
is the fun about it. That's why usability testing with focus groups
leads to very reassuring results that fail to  reflect in the real
user numbers later on. Accessibility is not about targetting the
lowest common denominator, it is about not blocking it out.

>  Even then, if the choice
> is between a design that is 100% accessible, and one that is 80%
> accessible but has a 50% higher conversion rate: accessibility goes out
> of the window in any sensible discussion.

There is no 80% accessible, the same way wheelchair ramps with steps
in them are not a good idea.
A high conversion rate is a good business case, but in a lot of
environments being accessible is a legal requirement. What is more
important can change with one discrimination lawsuit.

As pointed out in my other mail: Why bother with HTML and its
limitations when you consciously don't care or are willing to cater
for the needs? Technologies like Flash  or Flex offer a much richer
interface, go nuts!

> Jeff Howden wrote:
> > Honestly, it's not the designers job to dictate
> > functionality.
> Maybe not in your office, but it can be of course.

Depends on the definition of designer of course. 

> > Has anyone noticed that the web is getting less "designery" and more
> > functional driven?
> I think that's in large part due to "web designers" tending not to have
> a trained background in visual communication.  It's a huge opportunity
> for those that do, of course: the more visually homogenous, bland,
> herdish, and boring websites become, the easier it becomes to stand out
> in the mind of the consumer.  (To realise what a big deal this is:
> consider how many billions of dollars companies spend to achieve this
> aim in conventional media.)

Which is per definition or, rather historical push media and not an
interactive one. Interactive TV ads also have to be designed
differently than conventional ones.
Pushing the envelope is a wonderful thing, but we should make sure to
push it for the end user not to pat our own backs.

In the end, a website that will be used doess one thing: Solve the
problem or the need of the user in the quickest and most easy way
This can mean that the user as a member of a certain group expects
other functionality than the boring bland web forms, but it still is
no excuse to ensure that this functionality is a requirement. If you
make it a requirement then you  do block users out, and discriminate
that way.

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