UX First, Web Standards and Accessibility Second

Dec
31
2012

Building Construction and Crane

Web Standards and Web Accessibility aren’t that important. There I said it.

When normal people (non technical, non web industry) use a website, app or online service, they only consider their experience, they don’t for one minute consider how the site was constructed, if it follows standards, if it is responsive, if it is accessible to all people.

People are very self centred, you have to remember that.  They don’t care if the site is going to work for anyone else, just them, and them alone.

They just consider, “does this work for me!”

They just want to have a seamless good experience with no issues.   A site that works as they expected and from which they can find the information they want.  If they get this then they will be reasonably happy.

We are not the Customer

It is only us, the technical community that considers web standards and accessibility to be important.

For the customer on the website, as long as it works, they don’t care.  This is especially important to remember when developing web sites.  The technical aspects aren’t as important as the overall customer experience.

If any customer can use and get access to the content and functionality of a website then what is left to improve.   What aspect can customer  engage with that can be improved.  You will find all that is left is just the experience.   The experience is the differentiator.

It is this quality of the experience that is for the most part considered important.   Even if there are error messages, it doesn’t matter as long as the issues are quick and easy to resolve without  time wasting or frustration.

Now the experience doesn’t have to be perfect. Yeah that’s a kicker, it can even be bad.

The Low Experience Bar

Sadly, people using websites have become very tolerate of bad design and bad experiences.   The classic examples of this are often sites that have something that you covent. Like concert tickets.  These sites often get way with a good deal of dark patterns and bad UX.

People will put up with a complex registration process, ticket selection, booking process and then ticket ecommerce systems, designed by the Data Base Administrator;  just to get those tickets.

Customers grit their teeth and just get on with it. In some cases even they have come to expect this level of bad design, as the norm, and just the way it is.

The only reason they put up with this bad experience is for the end goal of the process.

People will even tell you after a bad experience, that it “wasn’t that bad, I’m used it it.” or they may even declare it to be a “good experience overall” – mainly because they achieved the end goal.

This degree of cognitive bias on the outcome must be remembered when surveying or interviewing people.

For the most part people are just glad the service is online and available.

Yes the bar is still set that low for exclusive items.  The experiences people expect is little more than a site being functional or just usable.

Sure great visual design is important, and this helps hold a person, but the functionality still needs to work.   If it doesn’t they just consider the site broken,  and as you know people then move on.

Raising the Bar

So next time you are designing for your customers, let’s try and raise that bar a little.

Get the website functional, visually appealing, designed for a good experience (that includes good content), not an average one. And then you can consider web standards and accessibility.

Of course I know a lot of you will do the web standards and accessibility stuff without thinking about it anyway as part of your process.   And power to you, but designing for a good UX comes first.

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1 comment

  1. Word Gary! Great post.

    On a semantic note however: while I agree with your opening statement as a whole (“..if it is responsive..”), I think responsiveness/speed is a first class ‘feature’ in its own right. Nowadays, unlike the other aspects you mentioned I think even mum and dads appreciate what value a responsive product has and they are very conscious of it.
    Just a tidbit.

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