Last night, I received an email message from a gentleman named Mark. The subject was: appreciate your blog and designs. I’ve received quite a few messages like this recently. But there was something about Mark’s message that had a different gravity to it. The last words of his message read: By the way, I am blind … continued
I’ve been thinking a lot about type on the Web lately. Not type that a designer sets in Photoshop and turns into an image. But type which can be selected, searched, indexed, and resized by the browser. Type marked up with tags like
<cite>, etc. continued
The issue can’t escape mention, even though it’s a few days late. Robert Gumson and Access Now recently launched a suit against Southwest Airlines, claiming that Southwest’s website was inaccessible to the blind, thus was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Last Friday, a U.S. District Judge in Florida dismissed the accessibility suit, [.pdf, 1.0 MB] stating the ADA is only applicable to physical spaces like office buildings and restaurants, and does not apply to the Web. continued
I just returned home from Meet The Makers, a one-day gig here in San Francisco for (in the words of the organizers) creative people in a technical world. The small crowd included creative/design directors, web/interaction designers, IAs, founders, CTOs, Principals, and CEOs. Lots of people who make the Web happen. continued
Last week’s redesign of Wired News included significant visual changes to the interface. The push toward XHMTL and CSS is certainly a big deal. But as a designer, I also love delving into visual details, especially as they impact the user experience. In addition to the usability testing we conducted on WN prototypes a month or two ago, there’s another excellent mechanism for measuring and determining the experience our users have with the site. It’s called user feedback, and we get a ton of it for free via a multi-use Contact Form on the site. continued
The high profile Wired News redesign has attracted a lot of attention, primarily because of the Web standards we’re using, and the effort we’re making at keeping our code compliant and error-free. However, daily editorial additions continue to allow XHTML validation errors to sneak into the Wired News markup. The most frequent culprits are the ampersands (&) which separate name/value pairs in URL query strings, or which commonly appear in our English language in company names like AT&T or slang acronyms like R&D. Section C.12. of the XHTML 1.0 specification effectively explains why these symbols need special treatment. continued
In reading some of the feedback pouring in since the Wired News redesign, some of my confidence that we did the right thing initially began to erode away. The launch was somewhat anti-climactic. The press release looked like a misfire because we didn’t get the site launched as scheduled on Wednesday night. Within just an hour of pushing the site live on Thursday evening, (around 10pm pacific time) we had 4 messages from users who were irate and frustrated with the new changes, promising never to return. continued
Late last night, I got a call from a very good old high school friend from Ohio, Jon Hamilton. Jon started out soon after high school as an EMT, went back to school to become a paramedic, and is now a firefighter in a north-side suburb of Columbus. Jon, and another friend Ken Sabo, just earned the 2002 Championship in the production class of the SCCA Pro Rally Circuit. I think Jon got his first VW GTI while we were seniors in high school, which came pre-mod as a rally car with a full rollover cage. I remember riding along with Jon as navigator in a couple of the Ohio State SCCA chapter rallies. They were a blast, but unfortunately, my weak motion-sickness-prone stomach couldn’t handle the fast turns, shouting out directions from a dinky hand-drawn map at the same time. Jon has been making news with the win because he now races with a soy-based diesel-powered Volkswagen Golf. continued
After a day’s worth of “almost there” blog entries and email messages [xhtml validation], I now proudly announce that Wired News is there. Our developers and engineers who hunted through multiple Vignette components to find the errors and destroy them deserve all the credit. Brilliant job comrades!
I’ve also been in touch about the redesign and working closely with Eric Meyer for the past few months. He’s been a tremendous source of encouragement and inspiration along the way. He powerfully adds:
“… the really important stuff all happened behind the scenes. Using no tables to lay out the page, but instead applying CSS to XHTML, the site is a stunning example of how standards can be made to work today.”
Wow, even as I write this, an engineer just yelled across the room that that article about the redesign is currently the number one topic on BlogDex, and rapidly climbing on Daypop (both index thousands of weblogs and report back the most popular topics of the day). Hail to the bloggers of the world — they actually get it because they’ve been doing it.