Accessibility is the measure of how many differently skilled/abled types of people (including individuals with disabilities) in varying locations (e.g. mobile web) can make use of a given product. There exist many, very thorough, guidelines for determining the degree to which a product adheres to accepted accessibility standards. However, many can be very complex and time-consuming, also requiring the study of a good deal of the underlying code — much of which goes against the goals of the ‘quick’ part of Quick-UX.
Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Accessibility represents one of the more complex components.
Today, we will look at 2 examples of products with Poor Accessibility, with a Quick-UX Accessibility value below 0.2.
Accessibility standards exist to provide people with disabilities a means of using products, from reading and interacting with those on the web, as well as many very positive benefits beyond this group of individuals. For these reasons, for this article, I made the ironic selection of the following 2 products, whose missions are to get and keep people reading and interacting online.
GoodReads is a very cool product that brings all types of book fans together, sharing recommendations, tracking read and wanted books, and doing other fun book club-y things.
GoodReads received the following results from FAE…
…resulting in an Accessibility variable value of 0.176 and Poor Accessibility.
Beyond making sure that all images have ALT text specified, this product would do well to address its use and identification of “decorative images.”
- Images with empty ALT text are assumed to either be informational, whereby the ALT attribute should have been populated with contextually relevant information, or was left empty – a decorative image. Such decorative images should typically be removed and implemented via CSS.
- In this product, the NULL specification for the ALT text is generally accepted – informing assistive tools to skip the images with alt=””.
However, the implementation of tracking pixels throughout the product is inconsistent. Another example of a tracking pixel within this product provides attention getting ALT text on an image 1×1 pixel, that is also not intended for consumer consumption.
Example: Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble, famous brick-and-mortar bookstore chain, provides a web product that goes beyond just selling of books.
The tattered results delivered by FAE for this product were…
…resulting in an Accessibility variable value of 0.072 and Poor Accessibility.
Throughout this series many examples of areas for improvement have been stated and explored for other products. And, for this product, these ‘should do’ items, for the most part, apply here, too. Most significant amongst these areas for improvement for Barnes and Noble are…
- Always provide Alternate text for images.
- Remove images with no Alternate text specified.
- Make sure Area elements also have Alternate text specified.
- Include a valid DOCTYPE declaration at the top of each page to facilitate rendering and validation.
- Make the pages’ character encoding clear. For example, by including…
Quick & Usable
Over the next few weeks I will be exploring the ins-and-outs of a variety of products, and walking through real-world examples of the Quick-UX evaluation of Accessibility…
Comprehensive Accessibility [RoundHouse & FAE]
Nearly Comprehensive Accessibility [UseIt & Eboy]
Moderate Accessibility [Borders, Bloomberg & NY1]
Fair Accessibility [CNET & Drudge Report & NBC NY]
Poor Accessibility [GoodReads & Barnes and Noble]
Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usefulness and Credibility components of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.
The Product Guy