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Re: Designers and their habits (was: screen readers for Macs)

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 2003 15:51:43 -0500
Message-Id: <a05200f11ba9a91deca01@[]>
To: WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: david@djwhome.demon.co.uk

>>That's really very amusing. Can you give us five examples of 
>>pages-- even single pages-- where the stylesheet declarations for 
>>the <a>
>That's not what I was saying.  What I'm saying is that they like 
>changing the design so that if one tells one's elderly relative to 
>look for blue underlined text, they will completely miss the links.

One's elderly relative will have to get used to the unchangeable 
reality that there are many ways to specify a hyperlink.

The logical extension of the complaint above is that the <a> element 
should not be stylable under CSS, and that states like :hover, 
:visited, :active, and their combinations should be deleted from the 

>It would take me a while to find the article, but I once picked a 
>page on a relatively conventional e-commerce site that was most of 
>the way to having five different paradigms for links on one page. 
>Finding pages that don't try to restyle links is more difficult than 
>finding ones that do.

Because there are good reasons to do it.

* Top and left-hand navigation is full almost to the brim with links. 
We know they're links. We don't need them blue and underlined.

* Logos, photos, and other images do not need blue borders to 
distinguish themselves as links.

* Body copy *can* use text-decoration: underline or similar "classic" 
link decoration.

Cf. <http://www.contenu.nu/article.htm?id=1217>.

I would note that the aforesaid :hover, :visited, and :active styles 
are useful in graphical browsers, and often very nice.

Screen-reader users, for example, can often select by link, move by 
link, or extract links. Even unadorned browsers often permit tabbing 
from link to link, so mobility-impaired people with no adaptive 
technology never are at a loss for what is and is not a link. 
(Indeed, skipping links becomes the issue.)

>Regular web users completely underestimate the amount of knowledge 
>about design conventions that is needed to work out how to use a web 
>page without waving the mouse around looking for links to appear on 
>the status line.

That's exactly how people have to do it-- *at first*. (And, on 
occasional sites, everyone does it even many years after they get 

Novice users don't stay that way forever, and we shouldn't upset 
defensible design conventions merely because a new medium is 
confusing the first few times you use it. Of course it's gonna be.

     Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
     Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
     Weblogs and articles <http://joeclark.org/weblogs/>
     <http://joeclark.org/writing/> | <http://fawny.org/>
Received on Sunday, 16 March 2003 16:00:19 UTC

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