“Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”
- Ron Mace
Accessibility, or Universal Usability, seems like an obvious property which should be inherent for all designs. However, many systems and their designers seem to ignore accessibility as a requirement. Many web sites, for example, use small, fixed sized text which cannot be scaled to the user’s preferences thus hindering visually impaired viewers. Hence, many websites have been dedicated to not only providing guidelines in designing an accessible site (often dubbed universal design) but also in why it’s important to do so.
I myself, only recently discovered many of these guidelines and surprisingly, they’re not that hard to find and for the most basic guidelines, not that difficult to adhere to either. Before everyone jumps on the wagon and tells us that OK/Cancel isn’t universally usable either, I’ll just say it now. We know that, we’ll do our best to move towards that. Just because we’re not doing that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what we should be doing, though! Before your next design, I encourage you to read some of the sites I mention or in the least, read my summary of them.
Hey everybody. In our first full calendar month we used up well over 6 GB of bandwidth (lesson: color comics are big files), so KC and I spent part of last week looking at strategies to break even. Now that KC is a grad student again he’s back to eating Ramen, and for reasons unknown I’m still eating it too.
Anyways, the investigations were certainly interesting, and they got me thinking about usability in the context of advertising. Perhaps this is already a funny statement, since usability and advertising seem to be having a protracted war on the web. For the last couple years, each new type of ad somehow manages to break more usability rules than we even knew existed. But I think that usability has played a big role in why ads are still the dominant model.
On the web today we have a lot of options. We can go with an all-out offensive: paving the entire surface of our page with jarring Flash ads. We can test a user’s patience with 15 second interstitials which try to feed us a full-video commercials over our dial-up connection. We can pop over. We can pop under. Or we can simply deluge the page with blinking banners. From the littlest pages to the biggest, all of these approaches are exceedingly popular on the web today.
As HCI folks, we gotta wonder why people put up with this. Well let’s look at some alternatives…