|Webmasters are responsible for the manners displayed by their websites. Website etiquette may appear a humorous subject on the face of it. In fact, webmasters are hosts and netiquette is deadly serious. What are the accessibility rulings by W3C but another name for professional courtesy? It is estimated that over 83% of websites today are selling something. It does no one any good to display wares in a manner that they cannot be seen by 40% of the potential buying public. Simply: Good Manners Are Good Business.|
Accessibility and Manners
Special Notes on Font Choice
Copyrights and Trademarks / Criminals break the law
Personal Information in Websites / Privacy Policies
Did your mother ever tell you that it was impolite to whisper in front of others? Well, high-level web design rules in compliance with WW3 requirements for web site accessibility include a need for a clear understandable audible (when a screen reader is used).
The primary - and also the last - word must come from W3C, the organization that is responsible for standards in web design and websites. http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/. Their reasoning and rulings boil down to "equivalent". Just as some people can't see (images, movies, applets, etc.) and others can't hear (sounds, music, etc.) directly, they may be given equivalent information to the visual or auditory content. This equivalent information must serve the same purpose as the 'replaced' content. A text equivalent for a graphic, for example, may be as simple as a brief alt tag. ALT-text descriptions can provide an accessibility feature for disabled viewers and those that browse pages in text-mode. This alternative description could contain a keyword -- hopefully reinforcing your page theme with certain Search Engines. On the Web, the "sightless population" includes the robots of search engines. (Since the search engines' robots are text-only and generally support only HTML 2.0, accessibility can be a significant advantage in getting favorably indexed. Sites that hide content in ALT-less images are hurting their chances of being found by users.)
It is rude to ignore visitors that you have invited. This does not mean that there is not a place for Flash, wild fonts and Heavy Metal music on your personal site. It simply means that if you are providing a site for the general public - especially the general buying public - you would do well to follow the following accessibility guidelines.
Text equivalents must be provided for images, animations, applets, scripts, buttons, hyperlinks, and audio.
High color contrast should be used and color should not be used as the only means to convey information. Color blindness affects 1 in 12 people in the general population. The most common is a red-green perception deficiency. There are websites offering help and tests for your site to enable you to combine various colors without losing over 8% of your audience. One of my favorites is Cal Henderson’s http://www.iamcal.com/toys/colors/
Clean bold design is a plus for any website, and a must for accessibility. For readability, font size should be assessed for low vision viewers and, to as great an extent as possible, font size should be controllable by the user.
All screens and forms should allow for navigation and activation without a mouse. Each field in a form should be labeled. Formats for data need to be clearly specified. Error messages should display above the form.
Use HTML H1-H6 to identify new sections for presentation. These can be used in conjunction with "HR".
"BLOCKQUOTE" should not be used for indenting, or horizontal rule "HR" for presentation purposes. (Templates are excellent for standardized page design.)
Site content should use clear and simple language, avoiding technical terms where possible.
If using PDF's, ensure that the text version is understandable to a screen reader; if not, include the option to choose HTML or text instead of PDF. If appropriate, include at least one alternate method for obtaining a document or form.
It is nice to provide an auditory description of the important information of a multimedia presentation. At the least, equivalent alternatives for time-based multimedia presentations should be synchronized.
Provide Alt-tags for all image-based text elements, graphics, or Hyperlinks in an image map.
Provide descriptive explanations of images and animations, and text descriptions of graphs, charts, and symbols should also be implemented.
Use client-side image maps instead of server-side if possible. (FrontPage created image maps are client-side image maps.) "Summary" and "caption" should be used to describe tables; describe each column and content.
Use a phrase such as 'Learn more' instead of 'Click Here'. Check navigation and form usage access if not using a mouse.
Seems like a lot? Then you know what many of your audience have to go through.
|Three final checks for your site:
*Plug your site into a Reader and LISTEN to it with your eyes closed.
*Dispose of your mouse and navigate your site with the keyboard only.
*In Internet Explorer, turn off your graphics and view the page.
Special Notes on Font Choice:
Fonts that are unreadable or difficult for your viewer are rude, of course - but fonts also carry subliminal messages along with the words they spell out. Most people equate all caps in the body of a message as shouting at them. This is not true of headers or titles. Acceptance of 'shouting' in headers is most likely a throwback to street criers and news venders. Perhaps we expect headlines to be shouted?
The following is a quote from the article Font Choices for Readability from All 'Bout Computers,
a monthly ezine.
"Generally, sans-serif typefaces appear up-to-date. Serif typefaces appear established or conservative. Even within these two categories, though, fonts can be sassy, brassy, retiring or loud. The fashion in fonts has drifted toward a primitive / childish look in recent years, perhaps a backlash to the dark Gothic fonts previously prominent.
Used correctly, politely and consistently, fonts will strengthen your website’s identity or ‘brand’. Font choices enable you to control not just your message – but the nuance, tone and ease of
assimilation of your message"
|The following information would not normally be on a website devoted to etiquette. It is included here because many well-meaning but non-thinking amateurs are breaking the law .
Many resources are free on the web. Creating websites is fairly easy with programs that write HTML code. There is a free and easy feeling that may be misleading to newbies.
|Never reveal another's personal information without prior approval.
For an informal, personal website, there are no rules about revealing information that belongs to you personally. It is presumed that anyone who does not want to read this information, will not do so. It is also presumed that you have relinquished your right to the privacy of such information.
For informal websites for groups or clubs, any listing of names, email addresses or personal information should be in the password protected section of the site. (From experience, there are
some who will not even want to be listed there. If that is the case, then "withheld by request" should be listed in any place where information is not released)
Every Website should have a privacy statement which advises visitors of the use (if any) that will be made of their email address should they choose to contact you.
Every website should note clearly if cookies are in use on the website.
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