Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Re-thinking web accessibility

For us web developers who tick the accessibility box by running our sites through WebExact (formerly Bobby) and an HTML validator, it may be time to review our thinking on this.

A paper about the application of web accessibility guidelines is calling for a revised approach which bears more relation to 'real world' situations than that offered by the existing Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines.

Better blog links, please

I know that blogging's all about making it simple for everyone to post their thoughts and link to things they find interesting on the web, but wouldn't most blog postings be more useful and usable if a little bit more thought went into the link text?

The worst example of bad linking is using 'click here' as the link text, especially when there's more than one 'click here' in the posting and they link to different places.

A good way of judging whether or not links are usable is to imagine how the post would look if everything apart from the links was stripped away leaving just the links in a list. If they make sense out of context, they're probably ok.

Using the "title" attribute of an HTML anchor tag can also improve the usability and accessibility of links. This does involve getting your fingers dirty in a bit of HTML coding but the benefits are worth it. There's more about this in Jakob Nielson's article, Using Link Titles to Help Users Predict Where They Are Going.