Unintentionally Blank

Phil Nash on the Internet, Web Standards and Accessibility

Making A Site Inaccessible - Things I Used To Do

Aug 18, 2006

by Phil Nash

You have created a site, hand-coded it to perfection in your eyes, but you are missing something. Something that every other web designer in the world has done before*. You have forgotten to alienate a subsection of Internet surfers by including some of the tricks below.

* may only apply to me

Table Soup
How many tables does a normal site have? One or two? Pathetic! You haven't built a difficult site until you have nested six, seven, eight or more tables so that your pixel perfect layout and design stays that way.
Javascript Scrolling
Insert an iframe with some of your information and let it scroll so that you save space on the rest of the page. Now, remove the scrollbars from the iframe and set up two javascript onMouseover links to control the scrolling up and down. If the end user has javascript turned off then surely it's their fault they are missing out on content.
Accessible Table Layouts?
There was one time that I read about the extra elements and attributes an HTML table could have which would improve accessibility. The time I spent putting the extra markup into my layout tables was probably worth it, as screenreaders were then able to tell their visually impaired users that "This table is used for layout too," just so that they knew.
Space My Gif
The first time I saw the idea of taking a 1 pixel, transparent gif and sizing it in the markup in order to fill space out and present a well laid out site, I fell in love with it. What's inaccessible about a very small graphic that you can't see?
Pixel Perfect Fonts
I like sizing my fonts with pixels. It's an exact science. None of this relative sizing rubbish. Just because Internet Explorer users won't be able to increase the text size if they can't read it, they should be happy with my design choices anyway.
Click Here
Do you know what you will be clicking on if I were to present you with a link saying "Click here"? No? You should read the rest of the page and stop using text browsers that only display the links at the end of the page.
Picture This
Pictures look better than the standard fonts we can work with on the Internet, which is why I much prefer to set out my sites using graphics for headings, menus and even body text. Why does it matter that some people can't see it, if it looks better for everyone else.

Alright, alright, so I did all of those and now regret it, but I'm sure that if you have ever designed a website, you've probably considered (or not even thought about it) using one (or more) of those techniques. If you have, I hope you have learned like me and if you haven't learned, then get reading why accessibility is important on the web. Have a look at the Web Accessibility Initiative's introduction to accessibility, or read any of Roger Johansson's blog. Most web standards supporting professionals will mention accessibility from time to time and this is why I have made it an important feature on my journey into web development.

This is my first list post and it has been fun! Thanks very much to Darren Rowse for the great suggestion and I look forward to reading other lists that have been entered in the group project.

Unintentionally Blank is Phil Nash's thoughts on web development from 2006-2008. Any code or opinions may be out of date.