Accessibility vs. Functionality

We all like very appealing media, but there’s two sides to it — either you make it very accessible to everyone, as appealing as possible or something in between, from which none is a perfect solution.

Accessibility in Web Design

Web Designers must make an important decision of whether or not support the ancient browsers (and IE), when starting a new project. If you decided to support the older browsers to make you web application available for everyone, it would mainly mean more coding work and less awesome features.

Ignoring the few percent of possible users, would grant you almost total freedom to use the newest web technology in your development.

So what about the statistics? Let’s take CSS3’s transitions for example: They are supported by most mainstream browsers, only excluding IE below version 9 and Opera Mini. Globally that’s 9,77% of users that are not seeing your fancy transitions. If you decide to skip the prefix-hell, you’re ignoring about 10% more, still reaching 79.48% of all the users.

If you’re lazy and creative, you could calculate how important would this amount be to you: Are teens your main audience? What devices do teens mostly use? Phone. What phone is the most popular among teens? iPhone, and it’s important for many to keep their phone updated to the latest software and hardware. iOS Safari’s all versions support CSS transitions.

Accessibility in other media

When I watch TV, I keep thinking of the accessibility of the advertisements. What if the person watching would epileptic? No strobo for you, my friend. Whar about deaf or even blind (yes, they could watch tv) people? Would they get the point of the ad without the visual or audiovisual experience? Sometimes the ads just show random video clips on the screen and the audio tells the story — not very thoughtful for deaf people.

When I’m listening to music that has strong panning, I’m thinking of the mono audio experience. What will people get of the song without stereo channels? Will they be missing half of your beautiful music and end up ranting about how bad your song was (which would’ve been different with the other channel included)? Most modern phones have an option for converting stereo sound to mono, but it would sound weird with very strong panning. Again, you could just ignore this small amount of users and unleash your creativity.

In the end, accessibility is important, but it goes hand to hand with creativity — the opposite way. Either you ignore the minority of people that need this accessibility, use your full creativity not caring about the minorities and just wanting the make the most awesome thing on the planet, or try to find a balance between them, because they are limiting each other.

The choice is up to you.