Reasons To Build More Accessible Sites

    January 26, 2007

A post over at Threadwatch just caught my attention. Of course with a title like Web 2.0, Dude, Who Cares, Where’s Phone 2.0? how could it not grab attention?

The reason I’m writing about it though, is not because of its catchy title, but because of the implications for building sites that are more accessible and work over a variety devices beyond a computer monitor.

The author of the post is Digital Ghost. The title comes from a 16 year old friend of his daughter who also added

The web is for old people and losers

Don’t worry kid the iPhone is coming. It’s just a few months away. And while I am perhaps old in comparison to you I’d like to think I’m not a loser. I have no hope of convincing you since I’m over 30 I know, but I’d really like to think a loser I am not.

I’m also fairly confident that this very same 16 year old will be using the web and having a look on a computer monitor just like you and me, but I do think he or she will be surfing more on a phone than you or I do right now. Phone screens increasingly have more resolution and wireless data networks have increased in speed. Yahoo developed oneSearch specifically for mobile devices and I’ll even admit I’ve come to reading some of my favorite blogs on my Treo.

I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination that the web is going away and I fully expect this 16 year will spend quite a lot of time on it over the next 60 years or so. But it should be obvious that having a site that renders well on a mobile device is going to be extremely important in the coming years.

16 year olds do change and they aren’t quite the influencers they think they are while still 16. They do become 18 though, and then 25, and ultimately the market that most businesses would like to target. If some 16 year olds would rather use a phone now we should start paying attention and make sure our sites are phone 2.0 capable.

By the way will phone 2.0 be compatible with a 3G network or do the numbers clash?

Teens Aren’t The Only Generation

So we need to pay attention to teens, but one of the comments in the Threadwatch post specifically caught my attention because of it’s mention of a different generation. The comment is titled Why are teens the authority? and makes the point

In the coming years, 70 million baby boomers will reach retirement age. With that comes free time and poor eyesight.

I’ll add paid off mortgages to the list and a reminder that baby boomers are a technically adept generation unlike many who are presently at retirement age. My grandmother may not make much use of the web, but my mom does. Technically she’s pre baby boomer, but you should get the point.

Consider the above and it’s probably a good idea to choose fonts that are more easily read and build sites that are friendly to screen readers.

In the coming years it’s going to be important to design and develop websites for two generations of visitors who may come to your site with a different device than your visitors do today. Your visitors may be viewing your pages over a smaller device or they may be using a larger monitor or screen reader. Either way it will be a good idea to build a more accessible site that functions well on a variety of devices.



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Steven Bradley is a web designer and search engine optimization
specialist. Known to many in the webmaster/seo community by the username
vangogh, he is the author of TheVanBlog, which focuses on how to build
and optimize websites and market them online.