Creating Web Content for the Disabled: A Call to Compassionate Action

Web Accessibility for the Disabled

As we all know, optimal web design requires accommodating sites for those with disabilities. Guidelines exist under the Americans With Disabilities Act to enhance the disabled ability to access web content.

Writing Beyond Profit

According to the CDC, millions of people are considered functionally disabled in the United States.  See the statistics. Over the course of my studies in web technology, design experts frequently encouraged making websites more accessible for the disabled. The motivating factor, however, usually centered on  the bottom line–you reach more people; you sell more products. You make more money.

The authors of respected publications emphasize that collectively, the disabled have millions of dollars to spend. Thus, in viable business models, it make good sense to target all consumers with disposable incomes. Experts offer the motivational carrot of increased profits to encourage making web content more accessible to the disabled. Yet, there exists a greater reason for paying attention to accessibility issues than just gleaning more money from this segment of the population. Continue reading

Advertising and Writing for the Web: A Matter of Respect

Ads and the Consumer Culture

If we watch television, or participate in social media, or engage in any of the various forms of mainstream media, we are exposed to ads and social manipulation. We are told that  we will be happier if we consume said product or idea. The advertising culture has created a type of bombardment, throwing ads in people’s faces as an exchange or cost for consuming desired content. The sheer volume often leaves people ignoring the ads and in a sense numbs them to the real messages that are being communicated. Continue reading

Cognitive Biases, Websites, and Language

Our brains have their favored ways of perceiving life. Our perceptions are often inaccurate. These skewed perceptions are called cognitive and social biases. We all fall prey to their pervasive influences. I have always wondered just how much our cognitive patterns effect how we consume a website.

Brain Preferences

A human computer is attached by a cable to a box © Cristi Jenkins CreationsThe human brain likes things to be predictable and comfortable. This cognitive bias is a main reason why humans tend to approach things in life the same way over and over again.

Our brains also predispose us to be creatures of habit. As such, I suggest that these patterns can also apply to how we approach websites. When we encounter patterns that are familiar to us, our brains can more easily make sense of them. Continue reading

A Librarian’s Take on Good Web Design

book

“How may I help you?” It was a phrase I reiterated numerous times throughout the course of a day. As a librarian, I listened to the patron’s request and tried to decipher what the patron desired.

Sometimes the patrons needed a little help. “Are you sure that the recipe you want is for something called ‘wedgies.’ I think that they are called ‘pootato’ I mean ‘potato wedges.’” Cough and slight smile. Once I clarified with the patron what he or she wanted, then it was easier to provide the desired information. Continue reading