According to a recent Globe and Mail article, several hundred thousand Canadians are still using dial-up internet. Either by choice or because they have no other option, they browse the web with 56k modems knowing media rich sites could take hours or even a day to load.
Here at Microsoft Canada, we have many websites that hundreds of thousands of Canadians access. While we’re light on rich media, which helps, the browsing experience could still probably be improved for users with slow internet speeds.
And what about other form factors? Sure, many people use laptops and desktops to access information online, but in a world where other devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming more popular, how good is the experience on these other devices? While there is still work to be done, we do have some really cool solutions that don’t include re-writing our sites. We were lucky enough to have Sébastien Lachance create an Align IT app for us on Windows Phone. Instead of a complete overhaul of our properties, we can leverage apps like this to take a lot of information and consolidate it into an easy to consume format.
What about your sites? Your customers (both external product-buying customers and internal stakeholder customers) rely on you and your teams. They depend on you to provide them with information and services to buy your products or do their jobs. Even if you don’t have an external facing website, you likely have some sort of SharePoint site or online tool. Can the way that service or information is being served out be done better to meet the diversity of your customers?
What are you doing today to address these and other accessibility challenges? How are you empowering your IT and development teams to make your content more accessible? If building a device specific app is of interest, take it a step further and start looking into developing Windows 8 apps (if you get cracking, you could be one of the first apps in the Windows 8 Store).
When people rely on you for important information and services sometimes the solutions to large problems are not easy. However, if you start with the first step of just asking yourself, “How accessible is my site?”, you may find
solutions will flow more easily from there.