I’m not the worlds best speller (although I’m not too bad) and I don’t always get my commas right, but I like to think that I take some care over the presentation of information. I’m sure many people don’t notice spelling mistakes but they tend to shout out at me. Even when I am skimming a page I can get that sudden nagging feeling that something in the text isn’t quite right, and I have to read it through properly to find it (perhaps that could be a good way of attracting attention by introducing deliberete errors).
Examples of errors pop up all the time and often they are obviously typos (e.g. a missing letter in a word). Sometimes though a webpage has a few mistakes and I start to think that maybe there hasn’t been enough attention to detail put into the creation of the content.
I recently came across a business website that looked OK initially but then I started finding odd spelling errors, the occasional missing word, and lots of inappropriate Capitalisation of words. Now I know that this doesn’t really matter but it jars with me and in fact the business concerned was a funeral directors. Should a funeral director be able to spell correctly and use grammar properly? Absolutely, it doesn’t matter at all as far as the website goes, I could understand everything written there. What would matter though would be if they produced an order of service for a funeral that wasn’t 100% correct, or worse still made mistakes in some of the official paperwork that goes with the territory (for example moving a body from one country to another is an expensive and bureuacratic process and one mistake on a form could lead to expensive delays not to mention emotional anguish). Of course where they really fail now is that I am highly unlikely to mention them or recommend them to anyone arranging a funeral, and if their name comes up in conversation I am quite likely to mention that I probably wouldn’t use them myself, becuase of their lack of attention to detail.
No doubt I have made some mistakes in this post (but “Capitalisation” and “deliberete” were both deliberate), so I don’t mind being referred to as Mr Pot (calling Mr Kettle black).
What do you think? Am I being too picky or are these things still important in the 21st century?
Just saying that could probably have me sent to the Tower of London for treason. However there are good reasons for thinking that search isn’t all it could be (and it doesn’t just apply to Google).
Search engines tend to favour older information on the basis that it wouldn’t still be around if it wasn’t worthy. Fair enough, but that doesn’t take into account the vast swathes of abandoned information that is out of date.
Of more concern to me though is the problem diagnosis issue. If I want to find out why the PC no longer recognises the scanner in the printer for example, the first thing I do is a Google search. I tend to be quite specific with searches, particularly error messages and I usually get back some useful looking results. However my heart now sinks when I see that most of the results are from discussion forums. What often happens is that I click on one that looks closest to what I am trying to find, then trawl through several pages of discussion about the problem (which is often spot-on regarding my specific details) only to find two or three posts at the end saying something like “so has anyone found a solution to this problem yet”. There may be better search terms that I could use to improve my return but I haven’t found them yet, and I am wary of trying things like adding “solution” on the end because I don’t really think that is likely to improve things.
To say this is all Google’s fault is of course not entirely true. The real problem here is the lack of a semantic web which in theory would make finding solutions to particular problems much easier. However, the search engines claim to be improving the relevance of their results all the time (and of course the only reason they exist is to sell the sponsored listings for which they can command more money if search results are better).
What do you think? It there a better way of orgnaising/running forums that may help? Do you have some nifty search term tips that can filter out some of these circular journeys?
Please keep the conversation going with your comments here.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
At level AA of WCAG 2.0 it has become much easier than WCAG 1.0 to justify the use of images instead of text (at level AAA they are prohibited though). The following is quoted from the WCAG 2.0 Quick Reference :
Images of Text:
1.4.5 If the technologies being used can achieve the visual presentation, text is used to convey information rather than images of text except for the following: (Level AA)Understanding Success Criterion 1.4.5
- Customizable: The image of text can be visually customized to the user’s requirements;
- Essential: A particular presentation of text is essential to the information being conveyed.
Note: Logotypes (text that is part of a logo or brand name) are considered essential.
It sounds like there are only a few exceptional circumstances where images of text are allowed, sensibly including logotypes. Actually, the guidelines do become very liberal here though and the word essential can mean almost anything you like, including circumstances where a font the developer wants to use isn’t available. Whilst that is good from a freedom of design expression point of view, it does mean that anything outside the dozen or so fonts that are generally available on most operating systems is allowed to be used by replacing text with an image of text. It could be justified because the developer doesn’t have permission to use the font other than within images (perhaps an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO in the UK) prevents them!). Then to top it all, a developer can use text within an image if they aren’t sure that browsers will antialias the font correctly.
Difficulties in Accessibility Testing
In terms of accessibility testing, the only time I can fail a page against this checkpoint is if I can be reasonably sure that an image contains text using a standard widely available system font (very difficult to prove objectively).
The checkpoint seems to have become so watered down (possibly as a result of the length og time it took for WCAG 2.0 to be agreed) that it doesn’t seem worth having it at all (not at level AA anyway).
- Is this so important in the grand scheme of things?
- Are images of text fine so long as there are text equivalents?
- What do you think?
Please comment here and keep the conversation going.