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According to Changing the Face of Web Surfing [wired.com] in Wired Magazine, some web designers are taking matters into their own hands and "fixing" websites whose designs are terrible or aren't accessible to handicapped users. These renegade designers redesign the site and host the improved version on their own server.
Although they aren't trying to siphon away business or traffic from the real websites, these designers generally come under fire from the real site owners who may fear confusion or traffic loss. The designers feel they provide a valuable service by making sites better and in particular by making their content accessible to disabled individuals.
What would your reaction be if an "improved" version of one of your sites showed up on someone else's server?
Seriously, though, "accessibility" is *not* as simple as some say it is. It's a mess and needs to be fixed, but not at the expense of every website and webmaster. Fix the browsers and fix the screen readers (standardize them) and then come back and ask for accommodation.
Hear Hear! If there's a standard, accessibility is attainable... if not, you just bend over for every different disability. Have a standard for the site, then a browser / reader for the impaired.
<sidenote> some browsers come with "accessibility" considerations built in. For example, in IE 6 it's possible to hold down the control button and roll the scroll wheel of your mouse to change the text size. </sidenote>
One thing that no one has asked/pointed out:
What about duplicate content and SEs?
What if they took my site and redisigned it (being an E-Comm site). Then the SE spiders their redesign of my site with my content. Who would be booted from the SERPs? What if it was me who received the boot for duplicate content and lost money as a result?
Just a left field thought/question.
By posting it to a separate site and exposing it to the public, you get a little more leverage..
>> What if they took my site and redisigned it (being an E-Comm site). Then the SE spiders their redesign of my site with my content. Who would be booted from the SERPs? What if it was me who received the boot for duplicate content and lost money as a result? <<
You missed something here. The "copied sites" are not a copy of the whole site. They just rebuilt the front end that accesses the database, booking engine, etc. So, all of the original customers are accessing the real companies data, buying the real companies products, etc. If the "copy" ranks high in the results then the original vendor still gets all the traffic. The original vendor does not lose a thing.
It seems that the web design section of many large companies are near clueless about web technology. Nice to see some of them shown up. If I were the CEO of that company, I would want to know why someone else was able to make a better version of the site than the employees did, and see about hiring the "copier" on a consultancy basis.
>> Why don't the people who do the redesigns just give them to the original companies, and make the point that they had better learn fast what constitutes a good web presence and what doesn't? <<
I believe that they tried. Multiple times. But no one was interested. The story ran at ntk.net long before wired got hold of it. I guess it got the /. treatment too.