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Smoke and mirrors, vs. design

Smoke and mirrors, vs. design

There are few aspects of web design that are considered very important for inclusivity. I would say there are a few that are quite obvious, like good contrast for the text or the size of the font. But also, there are some that a lot of web users aren’t aware of, like captions in the images for blind people and other assistive technologies. Unfortunately, these aspects aren’t automated and in most cases should be dealt with along with the development. Here are my top 5 of them:

  1. Text alternatives for non-text content (captions for images and other multimedia)
  2. Content can be presented in different ways (like expanding input field etc.)
  3. Functionality is available from a keyboard as well as different input modalities beyond the keyboard (touch activation or voice recognition)
  4. Text is understandable (using simple language) and readable I.e. using good contrast, the balanced ratio between font and content width (e.g., 80 characters per line), avoid justified text or keep it ADHD friendly in general
  5. Users are helped to avoid and correct mistakes (undo or cancel button, step backwards in the multi-step process)

Thankfully we have a few standards (WCAG) we can use to check if the design is inclusive. It’s very easy to forget about these aspects when your goal is to showing off and blowing smoke. What is also dangerous is to assume that everyone is like you and everyone has the same accessibility as you. The world is not made for only certain people to operate… Oh, wait what this photo of the Tesla bot and Musk is doing here?

What?! Are we going to have a 56kg and a 1.8m robot with 2 legs and 5 fingers? Is it the best design for our environment? Ohhh…
Regardless of whether it was a joke or not, this is a great example of how to not design for our environment. Therefore it’s an even better case to mention once again that there are ONE BILLION people in the world who experience some form of disability. Please don’t be like Musk, don’t assume the world is built only for 56kg and 1.8m bipedal people. Instead, listen to Don Norman who tells us what human-centered design is and maybe how to build a thing for everyone.

Please take a break from millionaires and read The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman. This is the best book for educating yourself about design and how to think about design. I first read it when I was still a student and it changed me forever as a designer.

I think any good explanation of Tesla’s bot should be accompanied by this beautiful short story about a bored man and a robot.

On a more serious note, if you are really into the Bots and AI topic I would suggest considering what problems are hidden behind making an obedient simulation of a human body or even just AI without a body

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