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Web Standards, Blue Beanies, and You

November 30 is Web Standards Day. For many, this observance doesn’t rank up there with New Year’s or even Flag Day, but its existence has impacted your life more than you probably realize.

Have you ever:

  • given your phone frustrated squinty eyes because a site you were visiting wasn’t mobile-friendly?
  • found a website hard to read or navigate—but you just weren’t sure why?
  • sat with someone you love who is color blind, dyslexic, elderly, autistic, deaf, hard of seeing, or has another form of disability and watched them struggle with accessing content on the web?

If you uttered a “yes” to any of these experiences, then this day is indeed for you.

In the 1990s, the Web Standards Project, helmed by Jeffrey Zeldman, focused on implementing standards so that web pages looked the same in different web browsers (remember Netscape?). This was the first time that there was a consolidated effort—aimed at both developers and designers—to standardize how websites were made.

But this effort—and its underlying passion—evolved, becoming a full-fledged movement with everyone in mind (yes, that’s you!). Today, this Web Standards movement no longer just focuses on sameness (browser compatibility), but it also demands that we embrace extreme differences so that the web is accessible to all.

So, why the blue beanie? This knit skullcap is a reference to the aforementioned Jeffrey Zeldman, who wore a blue beanie on the cover of his movement-defining book Designing with Web Standards. And it’s become a symbol for advocating a better web user experience for everyone.

So don your blue beanie, grab a cup o’ joe, and read up on some of the latest in web standards. And from all of us at CodeGeek: Happy Web Standards Day!

Happy Web Standards Day from CodeGeek!

The Practical and Legal Reasons Behind Designing for Accessibility
by Gregory P. Care and Dan Ross

If you need more reasons for your site to be accessible to all, how about keeping your company out of legal hot water? This article goes through the practical, business-focused reasons for web accessibility as well as provides a summary of its legal history and requirements.

The Inclusion Principle by Margit Link-Rodrigue

An underlying element of accessibility is the idea of affordance versus universal design. Affordance proposes that when people see something familiar, they will know how to interact with it. But just because people understand how they should interact with it doesn’t mean they actually are able to take the action needed in response. This article unpacks this issue and demonstrates the power of pairing affordance with universal design.

How the Web Became Unreadable by Kevin Marks

Believe it or not, the recent trend to place light gray text against a white background is a hot button topic in the discussion of web accessibility. The argument is that this design choice makes the text harder to read—or simply unreadable—for many people, such as those with visual impairments, the elderly, and those using devices with low-quality screens. Even large, normally user-friendly companies like Google and Apple are in the middle of this debate.

Dos and Don’ts on Designing for Accessibility by Karwai Pun

This poster series is great resource that showcases common web accessibility challenges faced by those with disabilities. These posters explain the dos and don’ts of web design, and they help website designers, copywriters, and developers better empathize with users of different abilities. The best part is that the creator is going to keep updating these posters as her team learns more.

Designing for users with motor disabilities

Parting Thoughts

Making the web usable for as many people as possible requires constant effort and advancement, and these recent insights and new tools for designers and developers provide excellent guidance. Applying them not only helps make the web more accessible to a larger number of people, it also makes the web—including your website—more usable and effective for everyone.

While it’s possible to update websites to be more accessible after they’ve already been built, it’s much easier to incorporate accessibility-conscious design and features from the get-go. Whether you’re planning on updating your current site or launching a new one, keep accessibility in mind throughout the process. And if you have any questions about making sure your site is accessible to all, the Geeks are here to help.