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Jonathan's Analysis of the WAI Homepage

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Sun, 09 Apr 2000 19:09:00 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Jonathan wrote:
 >I have reviewed the WAI page below, it has not been very pleasant.
 >Please accept my apologies if I offend the authors.
 >There is much that is great, but it is very well hidden.
 >I really hope I found the right page folks.
 >I personally find the page http://www.w3.org/WAI/ very poorly designed.

Jonathan, I will agree with you that it is not well designed, but
I am not certain that I would consider all of these problems to
be -accessibility- issues as much as -usability- issues.  In other
words, I think the problems are of a different type than access
to the disabled; I feel that in many ways the problems are simply
with being usable by -anyone-, disability or not.

 >Keep the language simple, and I will endeavour to source the symbols once we
 >have agreed the text.
 >If we limited ourselves to a flick book style with no cross links, we could
 >for this first draft possibly skip navigation, perhaps limiting ourselves to
 >a site identifier.

Okay, my problem here is that many people, myself included, use
the WAI home page as a starting point to locate resources.  I don't
want to have a straight linear "flip book" style for navigating
through the site, as I feel that will decrease overall usability.

A flip book -can- exist but if it is the only means of access to
the site, then there's a problem.

 >Alternatively you may all feel that creating a site that meets the needs of
 >ordinary users, rather than technical users might be more urgent.

I think the audience needs to be defined.  Before we start looking
at redesigning any site, we need to consider who our audience is
going to be and what technical level we expect them to have.

 >>Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
 >this logo could be about the same size as the text above or smaller and have
 >more impact if well designed.

Open question:  I've considered commissioning a logo for the HTML
Writers Guild's AWARE Center (http://www.awarecenter.org/) but I
have not been able to decide what correctly symbolizes "web
accessibility."  Can Jonathan or anyone else define what an
-appropriate- symbol would be?

(No, I don't consider a globe with a keyhole on it to be anything
other than arbitrary in this case...)

 >>Resources  | Events |  Technical Activity | International Program Office |
 >Involvement/Information | Team | >Sponsors
 >The navigation bar is meaningless to a first time visitor, and I suggest
 >should not be on the home or splash page.

This assumption holds if we expect the majority of our audience to
be first time visitors.  I don't think we've established that.

 >In fact not within our 300 words.
 >One link somewhere will lead out for those that have understood what comes

Or, on the other hand, we could have a prominent "Is this your first
time?  Go here for an intro to WAI!" link before the navigation.  That
could lead into your proposed flip book.

 >>March 10, 2000: User Agent Accessibility Guidelines become Proposed
 >What does this mean to a first time visitor? This is far too internally
 >focused for a public site it is something from an intranet in the wrong

Once more, I'm not sure we -are- looking for the first-time visitor.
The WAI site has to be a resource for WAI participants, and that may
be more important than meeting the needs of first time visitors, who
may be better served on a site like -- tooting my own horn -- the
AWARE Center, which -is- designed for non-technical web designers.

 >>February 3, 2000: Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 become W3C
 >>ATAG Press Release, Testimonials, and Fact Sheet available
 >as above

I don't think this is "internal" news, this is clearly external

 >>"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless
 >of disability is an essential >aspect."
 >>-- Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
 >Excellent  this is probably sufficient for a splash.
 >"The web is for everyone.
 >We must help everyone to use it" with a photo (very small) or better line
 >drawing of Tim)
 >please improve on the above

Question:  Why would a picture or photograph of Tim increase the
comprehension of this page?  Especially since the huge majority
of people don't know him by sight; I can't see how this helps
apart from arbitrary decoration.

Now, as far as arbitrary decoration goes, this isn't that bad,
and it does add a humanizing factor to the page -- but I see that
as general usability and not accessibility for people with

 >>The W3C's commitment to lead the Web to its full potential includes
 >promoting a high degree of usability for >people with disabilities. The Web
 >Accessibility Initiative (WAI), in coordination with organizations around
 >the >world, is pursuing
 >OK so this is where my page ran out. this makes the whole page very
 >difficult to understand.

What do you mean about where the page ran out?

 >Well over 60% of the content was irrelevant to a first time visitor.

Again, this may not be a bad thing...

 >>accessibility of the Web through five primary areas of work: technology,
 >guidelines, tools, education & >outreach, and research & development.
 >Why does neither the navigation bar nor the next section "Resources on Web
 >Accessibility " follow the mission statement? There is not any point in
 >making this list and then confusing people by immediately ignoring it.

This is a good point but not, as I see it, a usability issue
again.  When you start making lists like this, you probably
should follow through on them later, as it shows a default
structure for the content of the page.  The WAI pages are not
very good on information structure.

 >>Resources on Web Accessibility
 >I do not propose to go through all of this in detail.
 >Suffice to say it is full of acronyms that are meaningless to the novice.

Agreed.  The use of acronyms makes this hard to understand; I
would say that they need to be spelled out whenever possible,
which is to say, nearly all the time, and inline acronym notation
(IAN) should be used constantly.

 >complain of navigation icons if you will this is at least as bad.

Not sure I understand this comment.

 >>Getting Started: Making a Web Site Accessible
 >>Quick Tips for Accessible Web Sites
 >Hooray! these should be next after the splash, (which I think may cover the
 >mission) and here they are. unfortunately the pages they link to need work.

I agree with you on the location here, and in fact I might move them
up one.  Actually, I'd scrap the whole WAI home page and redo it
from the start, myself. :)

 >It was not Tatlin (a russian revolutionary artist), but someone very famous
 >with a simiar name within the UK CD world pointed out many years ago that it
 >was not possible to write about CD from a purely academic viewpoint, one had
 >to engage in it.

Can you explain how to "engage in it"?

Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                   http://www.kynn.com/
Director of Accessibility, edapta                  http://www.edapta.com/
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet      http://www.idyllmtn.com/
AWARE Center Director                         http://www.awarecenter.org/
Next of Kynn: a quasi-regular web log           http://www.kynn.com/next/
Received on Sunday, 9 April 2000 22:11:11 UTC

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