When you’re designing and building a website—or anything else, for that matter—it’s easy to assume that the end users are just like you: Talented, good-looking, fashionable…the list goes on. And the end users, of course, are all of those things, especially our readers. Some of them, however, may have additional characteristics, and if you don’t have them too, it’s easy to forget about them. Some, for example, may have trouble seeing, hearing, typing, or using a mouse. The art of accommodating these users is called making your site accessible.
In 1999, the Mars Climate Orbiter, a satellite that was to study Martian atmosphere and climate, disintegrated and crashed on the red planet. Upon investigation, NASA found that one piece of software was communicating using English units (inches, feet, pounds), and another piece of software that received these data was expecting metric units (kilograms, meters, Newtons). The root cause of the disaster, as with so many human-caused disasters, was poor communication and bad assumptions.
Web site projects usually are not as costly as Mars missions, but they can be derailed just as easily by poor communication. Here are some ways to keep the communication lines open so that web development projects are completed on time and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
Gather ’round, children, and hear the story of a once-great communication technology that has all but disappeared from the Internet. For those of you who have forgotten, or are too young to remember, it was called RSS, which, depending on whom you asked, stood for Rich Site Summary, RDF Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication.
With a piece of software called a feed reader, you could subscribe to RSS feeds from various sources – news sites, blogs, podcasters, video providers, and more – and receive summaries of new content automatically as soon as they were published. No more making the daily rounds of your favorite websites to get your information – the information came to you.
You Design. We Code.