W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > July to September 2001

Re: guideline 7.1 about screen flickering (fwd)

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 19:04:06 -0400
Message-Id: <a0510031cb7864fc0461e@[]>
To: "Matt May" <mcmay@bestkungfu.com>, "Charles McCathieNevile" <charles@w3.org>, "WAI GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
At 3:53 PM -0700 2001/7/26, Matt May wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Kynn Bartlett" <kynn@reef.com>
>  > Some things are -meant- to be "distracting."  It is a -design feature-
>>  that animated banners draw your eye.  They are -meant- to do that, and
>  > it is the intent of the author that they do so.
>You're making this sound like it's a _good_ thing.

It could be.

>"Distraction" has a negative connotation. It suggests that it is drawing
>attention away from the content the user intended to get.

Yes, and it's not a word I chose -- it's the one being used already in
this conversation.  A more connotation-neutral term is "attention-
drawing" or something like that.

I am objecting to the blanket labeling of animations as "distractive".
Sometimes you -want- to distract.

For examples, advertisers _want_ to distract you from doing other
things.  To them it -is- a good thing that banner ads draw your
attention -- why else are they used?  The purpose of the banner ad
_is_ to distract the user, or else you don't use a banner ad at

Sorry if these harsh realities bother some folks, but the "intent of
the author" is for that there animated gif to "distract" someone.
That is its function in the design.  And the author -should- retain
the ability to decide which components of the page will actively
try to attract attention.

>This has real implications for portal sites, where the portions most people
>consider to be distractive (i.e., the ads at the top and along the sides) is
>what the portals themselves consider to be the page's central content. That
>is, their _intent_ is to break the concentration of the user. It seems to me
>that this line of thinking gives content providers a way around the kind of
>issue WCAG would protect against: the author putting her or his goals above
>the user's.

WCAG should not "protect" against the author's intended use of the site.
The needs of the user are -obviously- important, but it's not the job of
WCAG to say that the user's needs always must come before the site's

(There have been a number of websites in recent months which have shut
down because the time and effort and expense was too much for the
operator to continue running them.  Nobody benefits from that.)

Are you going to "outlaw" any sort of authorial attempts to draw the
user's attention to what the author wants?  What about red text?  What
about large fonts?  What about <em> and <strong>?  What about any form
of graphical layout that naturally "guides" the eyes to content?

Those are all cases where the AUTHOR has decided, without even CONSIDERING
the goals of the user, that attention SHOULD be drawn to something.
That is not a bad thing.  That is just how we visually process information.


      *** My dog Kim is 11 years old and was born on Christmas day. ***

I just drew your attention to the above.  You couldn't help it.  I put
my needs in front of yours.  Is that a bad thing?  No, sorry, it's not.
It's what -communication- is all about.


PS:  If there is to be a guideline about animation, it should be of the
      sort "don't use animation (or other visual or non-visual attention
      drawers) unless your goal is to draw attention to something."  It
      shouldn't be this blanket "don't do anything that might possibly
      'distract' the user."  That's ridiculous.
Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Reef North America
Accessibility - W3C - Integrator Network
Tel +1 949-567-7006
Received on Thursday, 26 July 2001 19:10:33 UTC

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