Deciding Whom to Accommodate?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Mac In School, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. Mac In School macrumors 65816

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    Jun 21, 2007
    #1
    Here's something I'd like to get others' thoughts on.

    Let's say you want to do something with your design that you know is not going to be accessible by everyone. For the purpose of this discussion, let's forget about designing for the blind, other languages, wireless devices, etc. Let's also forget about highly-specialized sites that are selling the technology itself. For example, 360 panoramic photography used to require Java in order to play. If you were designing a site (in those olden days that required Java) that sold 360 panoramic photography services, obviously you'd have no choice but to require Java to view your samples. Let's just think about our average Joe computer user. Those who might visit your real estate site that uses 360 photos.

    The feature doesn't have to be Java. It could be anything: A high-resolution design, ActiveX, a browser plug-in, Ajax, whatever... What the specific feature is, does not matter. But let's say it's a pretty key item that appears on every page.

    We all know that we can't always accommodate everybody, but what is your cut-off point for deciding whom to accommodate? Do you design for 100% compatibility? 90%? 50%? Some other number?
     
  2. barr08 macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    Boston, MA
    #2
    This really depends on what the purpose of your website is. In class, they teach us to design for everyone, no matter what the purpose is. But this is always a huge challenge.

    What kind of site are you making? Or is this a hypothetical question?
     
  3. Mac In School thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Jun 21, 2007
    #3
    Just to clarify: Do They teach you to design for everyone, or how to design for everyone?

    I'm not designing a specific site. I pretty much have my guidelines in place. I wouldn't call my question hypothetical. I'm just trying to understand other designers' philosophies and standards.

    If it helps to come up with a scenario, let's say you're designing a site for a company that sells books or picture frames to the gen-pop.
     
  4. barr08 macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    #4
    They try to teach us both, but it is easier to tell us to always cater to everyone's needs than to actually show us how, especially when I am a double major, and only spend half my time designing.

    Personally I think the two most important aspects of good web design are (in this order) information layout and usability for a wide user-base. You can always tell a strongly coded website by checking it out on your RAZR and it's tiny screen.
     
  5. jng macrumors 65816

    jng

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    #5
    I don't think a number is useful for comparison because you can be 100% compatible for everyone, or just for your audience, which may be Mac geeks with high speed internet connections and shiny 23" ACDs.

    In general, I design mostly for academic and non-profits and therefore the audience is from around the world and many have slower older computers.

    - I design for 800x600. I try to maximize that space at about 780px with an elastic design that expands if the content is larger of if one increases the font size, etc. I use negative space which enhances the viewers experience at 1024x768+.

    - I try to keep my pages under 100kb, for users still on dial up. I design mostly clean sites anyway, so this isn't a problem. Needless to say, we don't use flash much.

    - I design for IE6+, Safari, and Firefox using mostly CSS/XHTML. I don't use CSS hacks, just conditionals. I also don't use any javascript/PHP hacks to accommodate browsers. Haven't found the need for it.

    That pretty much covers near 100% of my audience.
     
  6. barr08 macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    #6
    These are really good tips. Along with not using much flash, you should avoid using too many pictures, and don't make any pictures too big, as that adds to the load time too.
     
  7. Mac In School thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #7
    So is it safe to assume that you guys don't start with a specific percentage in mind, or am I misunderstanding?
     
  8. barr08 macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    #8
    I don't say "I am going to design this so 90% of users can effectively navigate it", no. I mean, that seems like an impossible task. How can you guess that 10% of the people accessing this site will be on a certain platform, or have a certain handicap.

    I guess my advice is just design to your best ability with as many demographics in mind as possible. Check out some site usability tutorials, that may help you out some more. There are also some good books on this. Go to the web design section of your local barnes and noble or borders.
     
  9. Mac In School thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Jun 21, 2007
    #9
    I'm not really looking for advise. I've been designing sites professionally since 1995. I'm just trying to get inside the minds of other designers, and see how their philosophies compare to mine.

    You have answered my question. For that, I thank you.

    You can take a lot of the guesswork out of it by looking at your log files. If it's a start-up site, and doesn't have log files, there are other resources for getting pretty good data.
     
  10. jng macrumors 65816

    jng

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    #10
    Well I think everyone should start out with a percentage, specifically 100%, but not everyone agrees. In fact, most don't comply. ;)
     
  11. Mac In School thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #11
    This may help y'all understand me:

    I've been a marketing guy first, and an artist second. I've been working in the marketing research field since 1987. Primarily online marketing research for the past 12 years.

    Hence my desire to see numbers. :)
     
  12. Mac In School thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #12
    100%? So you're going to design for... Say... The occasional WebTV user (544x372 and bloated text)? Or maybe people with 256 color displays (still 2%)?
     
  13. zim macrumors 65816

    zim

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    #13
    In my design practice, I primarily work with web standards, xhtml and css. I generally design for an expected audience of 800x600. I do not use css hacks. I title every image as well as use alt descriptions. I use logical titles for pages as well as html files. I verify all my pages with w3c validation.

    When and if using javaScript effects such as fades etc.. I am sure to see it that if the user does not have javaScript that the content will still be accessible.

    If I purse Flash, which is rare, then I am sure to use it in a way that is complimentary and effective to and for the content. Macromedia proved that if you want a Flash site to be accessable that you would need a whole team of usalbility experts, which most designers or budgets can afford.. example: J.K.Rowling's website. I know that their point was to say "Flash is accessible!" but I feel that they communicated just the opposite.

    I know that there is no way to 100% guarantee that every single user out there will be able to access every bit of content. I do my best, within the time and budget provided. When conceptualizing a project I can say that I do have good intentions to make the sites usability as high as possible.

    Then there is my own personal creative work.. which at times negates everything I just said ;)
     
  14. jng macrumors 65816

    jng

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    #14
    I was referring to 100% of what I outlined above.
     
  15. Mac In School thread starter macrumors 65816

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