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Various applications of Accessibility and Usability

How different are they? How is the approach different?



5:01 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member drdoc is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Accessibility and Usability have many applications aside from pure web pages. How does Accessibility and Usability apply differently for different environments?

* intranet
* ecommerce
* informational/educational
* web applications
* PC applications/software


1:44 pm on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

* intranet

On a typical intranet, there is browser standardisation. That makes the coding easier.

You also don't have to worry about things like Javascript being turned off, or images not being displayed. Most of the time you won't have to worry about people trying to view the Intranet on a mobile phone or PDA either.


7:31 am on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Actually, I'd disagree there, on accessibility at least. If the company hired a visually impaired person shouldn't they have the same access to intranet content that the other employees do? What if the company decides to switch browsers in the future? Intranets should be coded to the same standards (in both the w3 and quality senses) as public websites. I know that when I build intranets I make sure they're accessible and usable.


11:40 am on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If the company hired a visually impaired person

I work with quite a few v. small businesses. Most of them have no facilities for disabled staff...

...since none of them actually have any disabled staff :-)

Bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. At the small business end of things a lot of people build what they actually need, not what would be nice to have.

I know that when I build intranets I make sure they're accessible and usable.

I didn't mean to imply that accessibility and usability weren't important, just that on a typical Intranet, compability for OLD browsers (e.g. NN4) might be a non-issue.

For instance, if the company policy says that Java is to be installed/enabled on all workstations then IMHO it's perfectly valid to build an Intranet site that requires Java... (?) This wouldn't necessarily be the case for a public website.

I've built Intranet sites that relied on NTLM authentication - with pass-through authentication to backend SQL databases which pulled data with the end-user's privileges.

The DBAs weren't prepared to allow plain-text authentication to the DB, so (at least at the time of building) this ruled out any browsers apart from IE. IE was installed everywhere since the standard deployment image was W2k + IE6 - so why worry about Opera or Netscape (or any other browser) in this situation?

Or am I missing something?


12:17 pm on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, there is the fact that many companies have a small island of Macs in their sea of PCs -- usually used by the folks in advertising, PR, marketing, etc. So even a company that has corporate standardization of browsers and other software usually has exceptions.

I well remember the days of being unable to access parts of the company intranet when I lived on the Mac island in the PC ocean, because the intranet was designed with proprietary MS proprietary that wouldn't work on my Mac. (I think it was ActiveX.)

Also, I would think accessibility for various types of disabilities would be even more important on an intranet, even if the company has no disabled employees. The first time a disabled person applies and isn't hired, they have a fairly legitimate-sounding claim that the company rejected them because it didn't want to spend the money to make the needed changes for accessibility. If a disabled person already works there and has trouble accessing information needed for their job, IMO they have a very legitimate claim.


5:59 pm on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Usability on intranets is just as if not more important than on a public website. Many employees are using the intranet on a daily basis, and often doing repetitive tasks where the interface is critical. On my employer's intranet, the text is a fixed size, the form controls are missing labels, there is inconsistency across different applications and I have nearly a dozen different logins with different authorization processes (from simple passwords that never change up to digital fingerprint recognition). It is a huge hassle trying to keep things in sync.

Even if the platform is uniform, employees are not machines - some require different screen resolutions and font sizes to cater for their eyesight, different employees use different applications, some have trouble using a mouse...

An intranet, however, does not demand the same approach as a public website. An intranet application can be very complex and require weeks of training, whereas for an ecommerce site that you visit occasionally it is vital for the end user to easily understand how the application works first time without instructions.

In most cases, usability is tightly related to user expectations - if the site/program/widget works as the user expects, then you have succeeded.


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