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Re: Textual Images vs. Styled Text, Round Two *ding*

From: Alan J. Flavell <flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 17:58:07 +0100 (BST)
To: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
cc: WAI Guidelines List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.4.21-pb.0009291620280.27033-100000@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
On Fri, 29 Sep 2000, Anne Pemberton wrote:

> At 11:27 AM 9/29/00 +0100, Alan J. Flavell wrote:
> >If the "graphical designers" of your quote are more interested in
> >achieving their graphical effects than in reaching a wide readership
> >for their content, then they are using the wrong medium anyway.
> 
> I disagree most emphatically with this statement. 

I respectfully submit that this is due to a misunderstanding.  You
seem to be reading something into my sentence above that I had not
intended.

There are certainly situations where the graphics or other media are
themselves the "content" which should reach the readership.  I
hadn't meant to discount that!

I was referring rather to the kind of situation where there is useful
content which the web site is offering to its readers, and which its
readers are keen to receive; but the communication fails, in a
situation where it appears that their designer thought it was more
important to achieve their "effects" than to ensure access to the
useful content.

Again I repeat that in a proportion of situations, the effects might
be a real part of the content, and that is quite a different matter.

Let's take a recent case from my own experience. I was denied access
to a perfectly useful web page of travel information.  The designer
first told me that I couldn't use the site, on the grounds that my
browser didn't "support frames" (which was untrue: more to the point,
their designer did not "support NOFRAMES"), and then, when I
disregarded that and proceeded anyway, I found the information
blockaded behind javascript effects, instead of using normal "a href="
links.

This travel information would be most needed by someone who was
already on their journey, and might be using a palmtop browser with a
cellphone.  The pretty mouse-over effects used by their javascript did
not have the slightest relevance to the service delays which where the
significant part of their content, and I could see no logical reason
to deny the information to anyone able to display it.

Once I had written my own version of their index page, I was perfectly
well able to use it to access their information, using a free choice
of browser and settings.

This is what I mean when I talk about a designer being "more
interested in achieving their effects" than in communicating the
content to the user.

> The point of using the
> web to deliver graphics isn't necessary to reach a "wide readership", but
> to reach a segment of the overall web audience.

The point, surely, of any web page is to convey its content to a
segment of the overall audience: the segment is defined by those who
take an interest in the topic of the page, whatever it may be (and
hopefully not defined as "whoever happens to have the same web browser
version and settings as the designer").

Sometimes it's going to be appropriate to use media that are less then
fully accessible.  That's the way things are, and in the WAI we look
for ways of coping with that.  But far more often in practice on the
WWW we see media that are accessible - or would be, but have have been
pointlessly barricaded behind inaccessible "effects", and this is the
point I was alluding to above.

> the design of the site must meet the needs of those intended, not flop
> around trying to satisfy some wider audience. 

There's a sense in which I'd entirely agree with that.  But one also
sees a sort of inverted form of this principle, in which designers
decide, without any apparent relevance to the subject matter, to
employ some tricks that appeal to them, and then discount anyone who
cannot or use those tricks as being by definition "not in the target
audience", no matter how much interest they might have in the topic
itself.

best regards
Received on Friday, 29 September 2000 12:58:12 GMT

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