Think Accessibility: Personalize Your Site to Send the Right Message to Visitors with 5 Easy Tips

57 Million Americans have a disability (Internet Accessibility, 2017), and 54% of American adults with a disability use the web 
(Pew Internet Project).

1. Great Design NEEDS Great Code

A great design can make users ooh and ahh, if they can access it. Check out Google Web Standards or W3schools.org for tips on how to write good clean code.

  • Use labels for input fields
  • Clearly mark all required fields and use a label that indicates what labels like images or an asterisk (*) represent
  • Use more than just icons, images, colors or symbols to identify ANYTHING – it is absolutely okay to use these assets, just be sure to also integrate alt attributes, descriptions, transcripts, and aria fields
  • Integrate title tags
  • Use unique and page-relevant meta data for each page (title, author, description, keywords)
  • Avoid inline javascript and styles
  • Test your page without CSS (does it still make sense)?
  • Captcha is not accessibility friendly
  • Bootstrap (at the time of this post’s publishing) is not accessibility friendly out-of-the-box
  • Do not replace form labels with placeholder text
  • Avoid using WYSIWYG editors if you know HTML/CSS. Editors in most CMS tools and Dreamweaver can add a lot of gunk to the code.

2. Accessibility May Require More than the 508 Basics

The Rehabilitation Act was enacted by U.S. Congress in 1973 with a section specifically identifying electronic devices, software, and best practices as an amendment called Section 508. The original section, similar to the current one (in my opinion), was mostly ineffective, overlooked, and overall under-promoted with basic rules and guidelines to provide developers and people creating electronics the information needed to provide people with disabilities a similar experience to those without. The EU and UK have similar laws and guidelines. There are also various web standards managed by various groups like Web Aim and W3C.

Section 508 was last updated in 1998, ten years before the first iPhone was released by Steve Jobs (January 2007). So, the laws and requirements required may be considered a little out of date or behind the technological times. That being said, there are many great resources available to teach the basics, and even the basics are often skipped. Skipping the basics hurts the end-user, and leaves many government agencies, schools, and organizations open to expensive law suits.

  • Skip Navigation allows people using assistive technology, like JAWS, to skip over the navigation section of a site. This is important because many disabled internet users with motor skill impediments only use keyboards to tab through a site (never using a mouse). Blind users may have sites read to them and it would take a long time to navigate if they have to listen to the entire navigation over and over.
  • Alt attributes are tags attached to images that describe the image, why it is relevant, and what it means in relation to the page. This text also appears if the image is missing from the file server. 
  • Title tags can be used to describe the anchor text of a link’s location and provide additional context so users do not have to navigate to the page.
  • Meta data is used to describe a page and is also used in the tab of a browser, search engine results, and can be used to propagate sitemaps.

3. Avoid Using Images for Text

Web fonts are easy to integrate and custom typography can now be used on the web via CSS. If you don’t want to host fonts, consider using Google’s free font library. Many designers choose to create print-ready designs and instead of splicing and optimizing images for the web, quickly integrate whole designs via free content management systems like WIX, WordPress, or Blogger.

Beautiful design CAN be accomplished in a responsive (mobile-friendly) way without hosting images as web pages. Plus multiple large images, animations, and designs with fonts inside the image are not readable by search engine bots (the evil little creatures who live inside the interwebs that are responsible for categorizing and managing the library that is search engines).

4. Color with Contrast

8.1 Million American’s are known to have a vision impairment, many with color blindness. If font colors look similar to the background behind the text, the content may become unreadable. There are many versions of color contrast checkers. Web Aim offers a free tool on their website, and WAVE is a Google Chrome add-on that allows web developers to quickly quality check sites for common accessibility issues.

5. Testing Takes Time

Know your user, and plan for more users you don’t know. User experience research can be fun! User interviews are just the start, but ongoing research using tools like Krux, Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Moz, CrazyEgg, and others can help developers and designers better understand who they are creating for. There are dozens of browsers available, hundreds of versions, and various devices that people may be using to access a web page or application. Analytics can help narrow down the requirements to a specific browser, various devices, versions, and what time of accessibility tools are CURRENTLY being used. A good tool and knowledgeable researcher can even discover which browsers have the highest exit rate (meaning you’re losing traffic and should optimize for those users).

Over time content can be customized based on demographics, keywords, web morphing, and the use of machine learning to give a dynamic (almost unique) experience to a large number of users.

  • Wahlbin, K.,  Bunge, K., Krause, G., Miller, M., Wahlbin, S. (Accessed May 2017). Interactive Accessibility. Accessibility Statistics. http://ift.tt/1Km7LsK
  • Dolson, J. (2009). Practical Ecommerce. Pew Internet Project. (Accessed May 2017) http://ift.tt/2qwBvzb

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Think Accessibility: Personalize Your Site to Send the Right Message to Visitors with 5 Easy Tips

57 Million Americans have a disability (Internet Accessibility, 2017), and 54% of American adults with a disability use the web 
(Pew Internet Project).

1. Great Design NEEDS Great Code

A great design can make users ooh and ahh, if they can access it. Check out Google Web Standards or W3schools.org for tips on how to write good clean code.

  • Use labels for input fields
  • Clearly mark all required fields and use a label that indicates what labels like images or an asterisk (*) represent
  • Use more than just icons, images, colors or symbols to identify ANYTHING – it is absolutely okay to use these assets, just be sure to also integrate alt attributes, descriptions, transcripts, and aria fields
  • Integrate title tags
  • Use unique and page-relevant meta data for each page (title, author, description, keywords)
  • Avoid inline javascript and styles
  • Test your page without CSS (does it still make sense)?
  • Captcha is not accessibility friendly
  • Bootstrap (at the time of this post’s publishing) is not accessibility friendly out-of-the-box
  • Do not replace form labels with placeholder text
  • Avoid using WYSIWYG editors if you know HTML/CSS. Editors in most CMS tools and Dreamweaver can add a lot of gunk to the code.

2. Accessibility May Require More than the 508 Basics

The Rehabilitation Act was enacted by U.S. Congress in 1973 with a section specifically identifying electronic devices, software, and best practices as an amendment called Section 508. The original section, similar to the current one (in my opinion), was mostly ineffective, overlooked, and overall under-promoted with basic rules and guidelines to provide developers and people creating electronics the information needed to provide people with disabilities a similar experience to those without. The EU and UK have similar laws and guidelines. There are also various web standards managed by various groups like Web Aim and W3C.

Section 508 was last updated in 1998, ten years before the first iPhone was released by Steve Jobs (January 2007). So, the laws and requirements required may be considered a little out of date or behind the technological times. That being said, there are many great resources available to teach the basics, and even the basics are often skipped. Skipping the basics hurts the end-user, and leaves many government agencies, schools, and organizations open to expensive law suits.

  • Skip Navigation allows people using assistive technology, like JAWS, to skip over the navigation section of a site. This is important because many disabled internet users with motor skill impediments only use keyboards to tab through a site (never using a mouse). Blind users may have sites read to them and it would take a long time to navigate if they have to listen to the entire navigation over and over.
  • Alt attributes are tags attached to images that describe the image, why it is relevant, and what it means in relation to the page. This text also appears if the image is missing from the file server. 
  • Title tags can be used to describe the anchor text of a link’s location and provide additional context so users do not have to navigate to the page.
  • Meta data is used to describe a page and is also used in the tab of a browser, search engine results, and can be used to propagate sitemaps.

3. Avoid Using Images for Text

Web fonts are easy to integrate and custom typography can now be used on the web via CSS. If you don’t want to host fonts, consider using Google’s free font library. Many designers choose to create print-ready designs and instead of splicing and optimizing images for the web, quickly integrate whole designs via free content management systems like WIX, WordPress, or Blogger.

Beautiful design CAN be accomplished in a responsive (mobile-friendly) way without hosting images as web pages. Plus multiple large images, animations, and designs with fonts inside the image are not readable by search engine bots (the evil little creatures who live inside the interwebs that are responsible for categorizing and managing the library that is search engines).

4. Color with Contrast

8.1 Million American’s are known to have a vision impairment, many with color blindness. If font colors look similar to the background behind the text, the content may become unreadable. There are many versions of color contrast checkers. Web Aim offers a free tool on their website, and WAVE is a Google Chrome add-on that allows web developers to quickly quality check sites for common accessibility issues.

5. Testing Takes Time

Know your user, and plan for more users you don’t know. User experience research can be fun! User interviews are just the start, but ongoing research using tools like Krux, Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Moz, CrazyEgg, and others can help developers and designers better understand who they are creating for. There are dozens of browsers available, hundreds of versions, and various devices that people may be using to access a web page or application. Analytics can help narrow down the requirements to a specific browser, various devices, versions, and what time of accessibility tools are CURRENTLY being used. A good tool and knowledgeable researcher can even discover which browsers have the highest exit rate (meaning you’re losing traffic and should optimize for those users).

Over time content can be customized based on demographics, keywords, web morphing, and the use of machine learning to give a dynamic (almost unique) experience to a large number of users.

  • Wahlbin, K.,  Bunge, K., Krause, G., Miller, M., Wahlbin, S. (Accessed May 2017). Interactive Accessibility. Accessibility Statistics. http://ift.tt/1Km7LsK
  • Dolson, J. (2009). Practical Ecommerce. Pew Internet Project. (Accessed May 2017) http://ift.tt/2qwBvzb

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DIARY: That One Guy

“Always code as if the maintainer will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.”




EDIT THIS POST BEFORE PUBLISHING


IT’S ALL ABOUT THE USER

The user is the ultimate arbiter of success for any interface. If users can accomplish their tasks in a simple, efficient, intuitive way, then we’re doing our job right. Therefore, we must keep the user in mind at every stage of interface design.
One common mistake that you can make up front is to assume YOU are the user. Because working on a computer is a solitary activity, it’s easy to forget that everyone experiences an interface in a different way. Depending on what you’re designing, the user may be a complete novice or a seasoned sysadmin.
It’s important to imagine what your users are like. If it helps, give the user a name, age, and occupation. Ask yourself these questions:
  • In what context will they use this feature? At work? At home? On a TV from 10 feet away?
  • Have they used a similar interface before?
  • How savvy are they with computers in general? Do they know how to copy and paste, drag and drop, or open a context menu?
When designing a feature for the interface, walk the user through the feature. Make a rough sketch of the main components (buttons, lists, text blocks) on a whiteboard or sheet of paper. Then simulate how your user might interact with the feature, by drawing in their input and selections.
While sketching your proposed interface, put yourself in the user’s shoes. Ask yourself these questions:
  • What will they be doing when they want to start doing X?
  • How do they discover the feature?
  • What will they want to do after?
  • How frequently will the user do X?
  • What if X fails to complete properly?
and so on. Once you’ve asked yourself those questions, consider how the answers should impact your design and modify it accordingly.
The user is paramount. Each of your decisions should be justified by its impact on the user.


BE CREATIVE, BUT DON’T RE-INVENT THE WHEEL

I’ve seen many candidates jump through incredibly awkward (albeit fancy) hoops just to display some very simple data. If you have a list of data, display it as a list. In general, being familiar with UI conventions is helpful because they encode a lot of hard-earned wisdom.
If you’ve created an interface that will enable the user to do their task as quickly and painlessly as possible, then stop. Don’t weigh down the interface with unnecessary features. As Deiter Rams famously said, “Good design is as little as possible.” This holds true for user interface design just as well as product design. Consider Alan Cooper’s rule of thumb, “A user will take as much time to make a choice as there are choices.” If a user is inundated with options and features, they find the interface more difficult to use. A simple, direct approach is frequently the best one.
If you want a quick and easy measure of the simplicity of a feature, just count the number of clicks to complete the task using your interface. If the user has to switch from mouse to keyboard, count that twice.


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Business Diary: Experience Summary of DesaraeV

Senior Web Developer specializing in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. Desarae is responsible for solving complex design and development problems while connecting clients’ to their target audience. It is her job to oversee design, development, and strategic direction for projects or campaigns. She has over 14 years of marketing and brand promotion experience; and 10+ years of design and development experience working for clients like Best Buy, Lawry’s, P.B.Loco, Premier Mounts, Proctor and Gamble, National Geographic, 3M, Disney, Vogue, The Occasions Group, and Express Handymen.
A graduate of Iowa State University with a major in Art and Design and a minor in Military Science, Desarae’s greatest asset is her enthusiasm to work and a love for working with advertising, design, new media and affiliates with a broad range of media, marketing, design and selling experience that has given her the opportunity to wear many hats, while developing presentation and collaborative skills.

Prior to Desare’s current position, she held positions as a creative director, senior designer, brand manager, and SEO/social media specialist, and consultant. She has worked in a variety of sectors including digital and advertising agencies, military, government, and corporate. Her previous employers include well-known corporations and agencies like Weber Shandwick, Risdall, CDS Global (A Hearst Company), Fallon, Gage Marketing (A Carlson Company), Starbucks, the Des Moines International Airport, Department of Defense, National Defense Academy, and the United States Army. She has led teams in application development, affiliate marketing, strategic development, ecommerce systems, and digital strategy. Her experience working with military and government agencies includes a variety of technologies and development paradigms including those unique to government and enterprise software development, such as CMMI, UK accessibility standards (BSI), and Section 508 compliance.

Currently she creates design and UX strategy for multiple applications including *project names removed* and is responsible for ongoing application maintenance including stake-holder interface to resolve technical issues involving design, development, and UX testing.

  • Analyses of website traffic data, creation of behavioral flows, user story flows, audience demographics; and generating case studies, style guides, pattern libraries, as well as UI/IA documentation.
  • Experience working on applications for health analytics claims data analyzing Medicare and Medicaid data.
  • Applications generating reports related to big data through services like OBIEE and SAS.
  • Data entry, filing, and claims data experience with warehouse data through the VA and military.
  • Design and task lead for high profile international projects.
  • Accountable for development front-end code, wireframes, prototypes, and ongoing design strategy for *project name removed* provider reports for *project name removed*.
  • Design lead for transitioning *project name removed* data mining projects and the analysis of claims data for provider profiles which involved summarizing diagnoses, procedures, drugs, type of claims and providers, demographic information, and calculation of *project name removed* measures.
  • Co-lead for the *project name removed* design workgroup, *project name removed*, *project name removed*, and *project name removed* where she provided leadership and UI/UX support.

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DIARY: PART 2: IS VICTORIA’S SECRET TOO SEXY FOR THEIR OWN GOOD?


ORIGINAL ARTICLE: IS VICTORIA’S SECRET TOO SEXY FOR THEIR OWN GOOD?

We tend to Clammer toward our own preferences for attraction: well-groomed, healthy, and or well-dressed people. A Clammer is a marine crustacean that burrows into the depths, which is also how we got the term clammer, or to dig. So let’s dig into this topic, shall we?


We all have heard the term: “Sex Sells.” It’s true. We like looking at “attractive” people, but what does it mean to be attractive? In this article let’s explore the idea of beauty, how it relates to society, international standards, and build a baseline for a deeper conversation. For the purposes of this article let’s set aside any discussion of weight as a factor, plenty of other authors have beat this topic into the ground and I’m afraid it will make us lose focus on the deeper discussion points.

  • What is beauty and how does it effect us subconsciously?
  • Are beauty, advertising, and moral standards defined differently in different areas of the world?
  • How does the media portray moral standards, sex, beauty, and violence? 
  • What is social cognition?
  • What is cognitive thinking?
  • How does cognitive thinking effect the way we interact with the world, our computers, and society as a whole?


Esquire recently published an article on the rise of the “Spornosexual“. Try to ignore the disagreeable term (spornosexual), that is repeated throughout the article, and you get a well written piece on a man transforming himself into what he considers the ideal of today’s western standards. He believes a big part of that has to do with how much he exercises, but his photos also seem to transform his personal style and viewpoints.

This is by no means the first article written on the topic of cognitive thinking, beauty standards or sex, the Huffington Post published a dire piece on, “Why It’s Unfortunate That ‘Sex Sells’ in Advertising and in Life.” Coincidence, that the entire article consists of little more than nude images and tweets about those images? I think not. 

Sex, beauty, love, and lust are at our core and an innate part of being human. Many cultures have fought with ideals such as feminism, slut shaming, and religious beliefs.  In some parts of the world thoughts, actions, and looks or hiding your looks are integral to daily life. The world can feel very similar, if you travel, and yet every culture has slight differences relating to expectations. In Korea for example, the ideal beauty standards is very real and often discussed. South Korea and North Korean standards differ slightly, and some regions differ, however Korean “ideal beauty” is something very quantifiable and tangible based on things like a V line chin, eye folds or lack of eye folds, and even lighter skin colors are coveted.

“Even though there have been studies which conclude that sex doesn’t sell, it is commonly believed that it does. ” — Huffington PostMadeline Wahl


Violence verse Sex

If you study advertising on a global scale you will notice that in Europe sex is a fact of life, but that violence is frowned upon. In Northern America, we are the polar opposite of this trend (though the tides seem to be turning more and more), where violence is in every movie, child’s game and book. That doesn’t mean that either form of this broadcasting duality is appropriate or amoral, but let’s explore the idea of cognitive thinking and how this effects our thought process. 

Cognitive thinking, in essence, is how a mind journeys from one thought to the next. The original version of this article was slightly different and part of an essay I wrote in college, you’ll notice that it was originally published in 2010. The original article is from 2007. Yes, sex sells but it’s not the only thing exploited for advertising dollars, money, beauty, violence, and adventure are all tools we use to explore feelings. This dichotomy has been going on for centuries.  

The Subconscious Reaction to Broadcasting, a Cognitive Reaction 

I’ll save you the trouble of looking up the big words in my title. Social cognition is a term that I learned in my junior psychology class. Cognition is the scientific term for “the process of thought” to knowing. Basically when you see an object, hear a sound, or start telling a story cognition is the process of remembering other pieces of that story. Cognition is like a spider web of memory and when you remember one thing you often remember another and another. On a deeper level cognition effects your feelings and decision making. When you see a car coming you know that the object is probably faster than it appears, animals do not have this common sense. You also know that if someone lies to you, you may or may not be able to trust them. You have a memory of them lying to you and how that made you feel or react.

So how does Social Cognition relate to Victoria’s Secret, Violence, or SEX? 

Think about the last few times you watched a movie with a villain. You probably didn’t have very much sympathy for that villain, did you? Think about if that villain was a violent person, a rapist, or a murderer. What feelings did the villain’s actions provoke? Towards the end did you hope that person disappeared, was locked up or worse yet, murdered themselves? The way that movies and the media skew our views can sometimes devalue life, our personal image, or time. 

Think of the pictures in Victoria’s Secret. How many women look like that? I know I certainly do not look like a Victoria’s Secret model. I’m not tall enough, thin enough or symmetrically shaped like a barbie doll. In college I may have had abs, but have spent much of my time since then missing them. I’m not saying I think I’m the ugly duckling or even trying to have a pity party, simply pointing out how these images raise or lower the standard of morality.

Just food for thought. I’m not a feminist. I’m not against them either. Just someone, who wonders how our marketing tactics effect things like small girls with anorexia, the columbine incident, or the war in Iraq. I’d love to read your feedback on here or on my twitter account.

Photo Credit Victoria’s Secret Magazine
Photo Credit My Painting for Sale

As always you are more then welcome to use any of my content, repost it, rewrite it, and broadcast it all I ask is that you link back to where you found it (http://ift.tt/1zMGMPO)

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Originally publish 1/1/2010, additions made 2/8/2015

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