I don't care about accessibility →

September 26, 2016 •

It’s SXSW 2004, the heyday of the Web Standards movement, at a panel called “Accessibility for Everyone!” Jeffrey Veen appears on stage and leads with the following statement, “I don’t care about accessibility.” Wow. I imagine this went over like a lead balloon. A statement so apostate to the culture at the time I’m surprised he wasn’t ushered out of the room by pitchforks.

But when you read beyond the (clickbait) headline, you get a glimpse of Veen’s ethos and intent when it comes to Web Design.

Here’s my big secret for you today. When you design for the Web — that is, when you design exclusively and specifically for this medium — when you do that natively, so many of the things we consider problems just start to fall away.

Veen’s whole post is beautiful to me and eloquently describes the essence of good Web Design. In a modern world faced with problems like the multidevice web, design systems, webperf, accessibility, font loading, JavaScript frameworks, and arrrrrghhhhhh! The second to last paragraph is like a balm on my weary soul…

So I end up delivering solutions to my clients that are far less complex to implement, are much easier to maintain, cost exponentially less to serve, work on multiple browsers and devices, do way better in the search engine lottery, and — of course — are accessible to everyone … everyone … using the Web today. And try to argue with the business value of that.

The beauty of the Web is in simplicity. Simple solutions are easier to implement, maintain, serve, render, improve, and access.

I dug up this post while I was working (very briefly) on the most recent WIRED redesign, which coincidentally, Jeffrey Veen also worked on nearly 15 years prior. At the risk of sounding like a total fanboy, I jumped at the chance to ask Jeffrey about this post when he joined us on Shop Talk Show Ep.182.