“What you don’t know, won’t hurt you” – or will it?

I’ve mentioned it earlier that in the second semester of my Content Strategy MA in Graz, I had a course called Accessibility & Multi-Screen Design. Back then I wrote a post about the importance of responsive design what you can check here.

This time I watched a talk Unseen by Tim Kadlec which was held at at beyond tellerrand conference in Berlin 2016. According to his Linkedin Profile, Tim is web performance consultant and trainer who helps organizations improve the effectiveness of their sites by ensuring that they perform quickly—no matter the device or network.

The old saying is that “What you don’t know, won’t hurt you” but Tim highlights that on the web there is a limit of what we know, what we see or what we understand. And these unseen (unnoticed or rather overlooked components of development) things can cause the biggest headaches.

Therefore Tim recommends to remove assumption in the first place and broaden our perspective by focusing on the fundamental (and sometimes hidden) pillars of web experience: Performance, accessibility, and security.

So that’s where accessibility comes into the picture. We can look at a site and say if the layout is messed up but for most of us accessibility issues are invisible until something goes wrong.

We have no control whether or not the person who visits the website or downloads the application is capable to use a mouse or a keyboard, or whether he has a visual or motor impairment for example and we cannot even track these in analytics.

To be honest, I was one of those ignorant folks who thought it’s not an important issue before I started this study program. But now it’s clear that everyone should be responsible for performance, accessibility and security who touches the site.

We have to raise awareness to become more and more conscious about these aspects when we create something. Tim said it won’t happen overnight (and I’m damn sure he was right as I still struggle with all the tasks and tests for the course) but if we have to keep doing it, like baby steps, we’ll see a great improvement. And at the end of the day it’s all about maintaining the user’s trust.

The web is meant to be for everyone. (…) And here’s the thing: If we are not taking the time to make our site’s performance, accessibility and secure, we are not giving people equal access to the web.

I have an upcoming project at the agency, a website relaunch and thanks to this course and this inspiring talk I will keep accessibility in mind for sure.

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