Nathan (gemsling) wrote,

Gripe of the day: caring for the environment, not accessibility

Our office is "going green": essentially that means adding recycling bins, reminding people about existing recycling measures, and removing polystyrene cups.

We just received an email about it. It's a 1Mb email with just one item in it: an image. No text to be seen. Well, the casual observer might think there is text, as the .bmp image has text on it, but there's no actual text. Hmm, perhaps it is a scan from paper, as the background and images are poor and make the words harder to read.

This is why God invented HTML email; so people can send formatted email that is still accessibile, readable, editable, interoperable... I know I'm usually a stickler for plain text email, but I don't begrudge people their formatting when it adds value (especially semantic value).

Alternative to the one image approach: save the seven or eight images as JPEGs (they'd be about 5K each) and make an email that looks much the same, but is more accessible, readable, replyable, and about 1/20th the size.

Okay, that's enough picking ont the well-meaning Green Committee. Now it's time to lament about the current status of of the web in general:

- See this study on Web Authoring Statistics from Google. Analysis of 1 billion documents shows that bad practises are rife.

- Read about how web design/development courses still fail to teach web standards, and continue to promote table-based layouts, etc.

The web standards community is doing what it can, but there's a bloody long way to go. If you are in need of a web site, make sure you insist on accessibility and standards. Poorly designed, unstructured and browser specific sites no longer make the grade. And if you make such web sites, shame on you. Start reading A List Apart and get a clue.

And now, I leave you with a quote from Joe Clark, as quoted by Tantek:

A failed redesign is a Web page created from scratch, or substantially updated, during the era of Web standards that nonetheless ignores or misuses those standards. A failed redesign pretends that valid code and accessibility guidelines do not exist; it pretends that the 21st century is frozen in the amber of the year 1999. It indicates not merely unprofessional Web-development practices but outright incompetence. For if you are producing tag-soup code and using tables for layout in the 21st century, that's what you are: Incompetent.

When teenagers' hobbyist blogs (short for "Web logs") have better code than brand-new Web sites, somebody's doing something wrong. And that somebody is you, the developer. In a just society you would simply be fired; in an Orwellian society you would be sent to a reëducation camp. Failing either of those, you could at least read a fucking book and upgrade your skills to a point where you are no longer a total laughingstock.
Tags: gripe, tech, webstandards

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