Posts Tagged ‘blue beanie day’

Standards Matter

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

It’s easy to think that, in 2013, we live in an era where as web developers we can say that the war for web standards is over and won. After all, didn’t WASP finally declare their work as done back  in March?

Of course, as they said, it isn’t that simple. As an advocacy group they’ve accomplished their job. But there’s always going to be a need for the community to fight for standards anew, in the face of corporate attempts at mono-browser culture or lazy developers looking to make shortcuts at the expense of accessibility and future compatibility.

As the web continues to fracture into not only multiple browsers, but a wider and wider variety of form factors and devices, from toast to televisions, from watches to phones, standards, and the advocacy of them, become even more important. We’re not just talking about making a site’s CSS look good in four browsers, or ensuring a site is usable for people with accessibility challenges. We’re talking about ensuring our sites, our clients sites, and the sites we use every day being available for use in situations we wouldn’t have needed to consider even six years ago.

Challenges like this make web standards, and events like Blue Beanie Day, relevant even in 2013. And, probably, forever. It’s a challenge that we’ll constantly face as the medium grows and evolves along with our relationship with technology.

Dylan Wilbanks and I spoke about this topic a couple weeks back on Squirrel and Moose, where we discussed in particular an area of increasing importance and debate in the web standards world: that of solutions for responsive images in HTML. The Responsive Images Community Group, chaired by the brilliant, seemingly tireless, and ever entertaining Mat Marquis. A true example of the spirit of the Internet, led by “working class” developers instead of browser manufacturers, who seek solutions to the very real problems they have in their day-to-day work on the web, the RICG is making big strides in ensuring that the HTML of tomorrow will actually meet our needs.

And to me, that’s mighty fine, and means Mat and his compatriots are bona fide Internet Heroes. If there were some sort of Blue Beanie award, I’d nominate them. Instead I suppose we could invent folk tales involving flapjacks and giant blue oxen.

Keep up the good work.


Comic Update: Max Weir and the Beanicornupus (Web Standards and Foolish Assumptions)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

This Monday was the third annual Blue Beanie Day, which promotes and celebrates the use of web standards to create accessible, semantic web content. Therefore, it provides a fitting backdrop to the Curious Tale of Max Weir. I’m not here to bash Max, as he’s received enough of that already. Rather, I’m spinning out a sort of parallel narrative that will cast a poorly timed comment into the light of folk lore for future web designers to consider.

On Monday one Andy Clarke, British rock star of the web design world, posted an open letter to Taylor Swift on his blog. This letter expressed his admiration for her as a musician and a gentle critique of a serious problem with her website: it is almost completely inaccessible to those with visual impairment or the inability to use a mouse. He details it quite thoroughly and politely, aware that as a musician (and not a web designer) she likely had no awareness of the issue or even touched the code of the site. This post provided a great example of the purpose of Blue Beanie Day, pushing web standards awareness to those who need it.

All was well until around comment #9 on Mr. Clarke’s post, by one Max Weir. You should read the linked comment for the full text, but the gist of his missive is summed up by the following line: This site is an interactive flash experience and thats all there is to it, there are designers who think accessibility, web standards etc and those who focus on creating a immersive experiences only.

This comment by a man who’s Twitter bio is “Design is form and function on equal level”, posted on an accessibility blog post on Blue Beanie Day, formed a nexus of baleful energy that summoned from the deep places one of the dreaded behemoths of nautical lore, the Beanicornupus. Identifiable by its massive blue beanie and gossamer spiral horn, this ravenous monster consumes the flesh of designers who think that “cool media experiences” are more important than ensuring a site can be used by impaired visitors and would consider that making a site this way is a valid business choice.

Poor Max didn’t stand a chance, suffering many grievous wounds at the hands of the commentators even after Andy tried to call them off. Like Captain Ahab, Max underestimated the beast. Today’s comic portrays his final moments, swallowed up by the Beanicornupus, calling out his defiance at the very end.

Max’s gruesome fate can provide a cautionary tale for us all. Web standards aren’t some sort of optional flavoring for some websites. They’re needed by every one of them. Those who choose to ignore that will face mockery from their website creator peers, and their clients will lose customers who aren’t able to access their sites. Although we’d like to think that only musicians, big uncaring media conglomerates, and our grandmothers don’t know the gospel truth of web standards, the fact is, as Andy said (when asking his commentators to stand down): It’s sobering that on Blue Beanie Day where we, who pride ourselves on our support for standards and accessibility, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, must not forget that the job that Jeffrey started with Designing With Web Standards is far from done.