Bad Tools, Accessibility, and Playing to Writers’ Strengths

September 12, 2008 § Leave a comment

We could talk all day about why terrible tools are so prevalent. (In my experience, the reason why a terrible tool isn’t replaced is because someone senior paid $500,000 for it and sure as hell isn’t going to admit a mistake and scrap it.)

– From Accessibility in a Suit and Tie by Bruce Lawson, for Vitamin

So much of this article rang true for me in my experience as a university web designer. Although I was at a nonprofit, many of the issues related to getting buy-in from the top were the same.

I particularly appreciated what Bruce says about teaching CMS contributors to write their content in HTML. I think many people overlook the fact that HTML that has been created using web standards should make sense to any good writer — at its base, HTML just gives us a way to label the parts of our work (the main heading, the subheadings, the paragraphs, the figures/images, etc.), which we all learned to do in third grade or so. In my experience, writers don’t get fired for thinking explicitly about the structure and organization of their prose.

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