Thursday, December 07, 2006

Inaccessible websites

The United Nations released a study on Tuesday announcing that Most websites flunk basic standards for disability accessibility.

This really comes to no surprise to most Internet professionals. The site I work for is certainly problematic. But with an upcoming relaunch, I hope to fix some of the known issues.

In October, I attended a lecture by Toronto Interacts (a local usability professional association) on this topic. While I was encouraged at how some easy things can be done to greatly improve access for visually impaired, it did seem like achieving full accessibility is almost impossible.

There are disabilities that are harder to addresses, such as those with mobility issues (hence keyboard shortcuts and enabling tabbing) and cognitive issues (this group seems very hard to address).

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has made accessibility a priority and has published useful guidelines and checklist.

One of the speakers at Toronto Interacts was Joe Clark. His website offers and incredible amount of detail and instruction on accessibility.

This issue is heating as various official bodies (such as the U.N.) are commenting on this and there's been some legal cases too, such as the high-profile case against Target recently.

Regardless of whether or not websites will eventually be forced to be more accessible, it really is the right thing to do, considering how it is often just some simple, basic changes that can make a world of difference to some users.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The good and bad of the Web

I went to CNET to pull up a story I read earlier today, when I noticed the homepage teaser about the Kims (see previous blog entry).

The story was
MySpace to offer technology to block sex offenders I didn't actually read the entire article. But I thought, that it was good that MySpace was doing something to protect the public.

Then I noticed this other story from today, eBay's Poison Pill about the surprisingly large quantities of poison sold on eBay. While illegal, it was shocking how much was sold through the site.

I thought these items were a good snapshots of what happens on the Web and how some companies can do more to help us from ourselves!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Tis the season - for shopping

Bah humbug. Christmas is coming and I'm about as excited about that as Scrooge.

The one thing that has made Christmas better (other than my 2-year-old daughter and her great love of decorations, "Tanta" and wanting Christmas trees for her Christmas presents) has been the ability to shop online. Avoiding the insanity of malls and stress of last-minute shopping at this time by surfing the Net, has been a big plus. has published a great review of the best e-Commerce sites, Top 50 Retail Sites.

In addition to an insightful review of the 50 sites, they also publish the web management details of the site, such as web analytics solution, designers, content management system used, e-mail marketing, etc.

Among the trends for e-Commerce sites noted by are increasing use of:
1) online video (eg. NetFlix running movie trailers or displaying videos of in-store parties)

2) customer product reviews (I love this and have purchased many DVDs & books based on customer feedback - I've also avoided some too)

3) social networking (eg. AbeBooks has a book-lovers networking site)

Now to finish my Christmas shopping before I'm visited by pesky ghosts...