Leave no man behind
25 April 2005
In some respects, the answer can often be approached scientifically:
- How much will it cost to cater to a particular group of people?
- How much benefit will we receive from this group?
- Is the benefit greater than the cost?
Most often the cost will be monetary – paying for programmers, designers and managers – and the benefit can also take cash form, either directly (through sales revenue) or indirectly (through good will, reputation). However, there are other priorities which can affect your decision. Take accessibility, for one.
I've never been much swayed by the argument that making your site accessible will cover its own cost through gained revenue, particularly where you're performing a retrofit of an existing website, and not building it in from the ground up. It'd be interesting to see a formal case study that tested that hypothesis. But not everything we do in life is just for money. I would count one of the strong benefits of accessibility as being a moral one – enabling access to the disadvantaged. This, I think, is the driving force behind much of the World's disability legislation, so in some respects the threat of punishment by these laws could be considered a negative cost by the particularly immoral.
What the costs will be and what the benefits will be vary dramatically from project to project. It depends on what you are trying to "sell", who you're trying to sell it to and how you're trying to sell it – information which a mere outsider can only guess at. But no feature should be a given at the start of a project, they are all subject to the same cost/benefit analysis as any other. And ultimately, the market will decide whether your decisions sink or swim.
Follow me on Twitter
To hear smaller but more regular stuff from me, follow @themaninblue.
- Resolution dependent layout update
- footerStickAlt: A more robust method of positioning a footer
- widgEditor: A simple, standards-compliant WYSIWYG HTML editor
- Accessible, stylish form layout