[thelist] Tip o'the day (x2)

aardvark roselli at earthlink.net
Sat Feb 17 13:51:48 CST 2001

> From: "Tony Crockford" <tonyc at boldfish.co.uk>
> Okay, so I *have* to respond, but please don't picture me as an
> activist ;o)

that's ok, i'm genetically predisposed to responding to your 
response, but please don't picture me as a devil's advocate...

> > - people cannot upgrade because the hardware will not support it...
> > for example, my library uses old 486s that can barely run NN3.04...
> > they're not going to upgrade.... they just don't have the funds....
> > telling those users that they aren't good enough because they don't
> > have the latest browser is elitism...
> But this is the case all over the web:
> "this site best viewed in Internet explorer 4.0" for example
> or
> "this site uses flash, please click here to download the plug-in"

but haven't we all kind of agreed that that's a bit silly?  'best viewed 
in' doesn't make the user do anything, and Flash is a whole 
different usability/accessibility issue which i'd rather not get into 
here... suffice it to say, Flash plug-ins are not analogous...

'best viewed in' tags are often quite arbitrary as well... they often 
exist because the developer chose *not* to, or didn't know *how* 
to, develop for other browsers... unfortunately, that will also be the 
case with the people taking ALA's message to heart, and 
disregarding all the users on pre-5.x browsers...

not to mention, the 'best viewed with' usually doesn't cut out 20+% 
of the audience at the front door...

> If they can't have the latest browser, they can't have the full
> experience of your site is all.  Standards compliant with content and
> style separate will make having a content only version of your site
> very easy.

exactly... try surfing evolt.org in an older browser... it still works... 
and it's standards-compliant... but again, that's leaving off one key 
element of the ALA campaign -- the 'screw older browsers' 
approach that leaves people out in the cold... your argument 
assumes that the developer would know better...

> And I think that's what we'll have to do, but it's not as hard to
> build two copies of your site as it is to fudge it to work in a range
> of old and new browsers.

i disagree with that... building two copies vs. building it to work for 
all is dependent on the developer... for the WYSIWYG developer, 
yes, building 2 copies is probably much easier... for the hand-coder 
who cares about standards *and* accessibility, there's no reason 
to build two sites, it's a waste of time... for the coder who cares 
about standards and *not* about accessibility has to either build 
another site at wasteful additional time/cost, or ignore that portion 
of the audience altogether...

> > - people cannot upgrade because the *user* can't use it... as an
> > example, i spent some time the other day watching blind and
> > otherwise handicapped users surf... some screen-readers can almost
> > handle stuff like the ALA site... most of the other tools crapped
> > the bed... not only is there case law to suggest telling handicapped
> > users to go away is illegal, there's also a federal law on the books
> > in US preventing you from doing that for government sites...
> And this is a case where we need more standards - why should *users*
> with a disadvantage be restricted by the poor quality of the tools
> they're forced to use.  IMHO the legislation is pointing in the wrong
> direction.  A more humane judgement on M$ would have been an order to
> develop efficient software for the users you describe *for free*

because the user already *has* the tool... the user cannot *afford* 
the new tool, or does not have *access* to the new tool...

hey, we're rebuilding all highways so each line is 4.5 feet wide... all 
the nice energy efficient, battery driven, safety conscious cars out 
there will do just fine, provided you go get one... as for you poor 
saps in every other car made up until about 6 months ago, stay 
home...  now, you don't *have* to use the highway... you could 
take the train, or the bus... but why?  why should you have to?  
how come you weren't asked about the highways?  how come 
nobody cares that your wheelchair van won't fit?  or you can't afford 
a new car?  what about the mall off the highway?  how do they feel 
being told that they will lose all that traffic?

hey, we need more accessibility in public places, too, but let's not 
remove the wheelchair ramps because someone invented a nice 
set of pneumatic legs powered by brain waves...

> But, in any case, your simple, standard, content only site will fit
> the bill meantime.

huh?  simple?  that's awfully oversimplified... again, do you 
consider the evolt.org site to be simple and content-only?  i don't, 
and it addresses the older and alternative browsers... my own site 
at roselli.org isn't too simple, and it handles all browsers...

i think you know that comment is misleading... especially since it 
doesn't match what i said at all...

> > um, please remember.... standards compliance does *not*
> > automatically equal a better design, or a cheaper design...  it does
> > *not* mean a site will be accessible... ultimately, it's still
> > difficult to build a site to cater to all your users, whether you go
> > with standards or not... this is because, as a smart business
> > person, you need to find a way *not* to exclude any users, because
> > that's just turning away customers...
> I don't believe in exclusion, I believe in simplifying the number of
> options.

good, then i expect that you would code the page more effectively 
so that older and alternative browsers could still use it, *while* you 
make it compliant...

otherwise you're taking the easy way out and making things easier 
on yourself to the detriment of your users...

or you're presenting *them* with fewer options, making you less 
attractive as a destination...

> by simplifying to a standard compliant site and a simple content only
> site we have only two jobs to do.

i'm still missing the whole content-only thing here... aren't all sites 
content only?  or are we talking about sites that have no content, 
like skipintro.com, or gabocorp.com?

> In all honesty I'd like to see content only versions of all sites (and
> yes I know some sites are devoid of content and are all entertainment,
> but that's another story, a bit like listening to a spoken word
> cassette in the car and watching the DVD of the film of the book. 
> Both meaningful experiences at different ends of the spectrum.

you mean like text-only versions?  no nav?  no branding?  you'll 
have to help me out here...

> But wouldn't it be better to educate them that switching to standards
> would be more cost effective in the long term?

i've been doing that for over 2 years... most clients don't care... all 
they care about is how it looks in their browsers, under *their* 
viewing conditions...

those who listen are a good client...

however, that still misses the point of the ALA approach of 
dumping users on old and alternative browsers... standards are 
great... we all agree on that... it's the message of how to handle 
those users who don't use the 5.x that we're addressing...

> > building it to degrade *and* be standards-compliant can be done,
> > easily, and without extra cost, *if* you make the conscious effort
> > to do it up-front...
> I'm happy with this, but we all make a decision about where the
> degrade will stop being graceful.   All I'm suggesting is that we move
> the threshold forward to speed up the process.

i think we've all done that (both ALA and evolt.org)... i think ALA 
moved it, crossed it, and closed the door behind it, however... 

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