A tough decision on accessibility & standards | Boagworld - Web & Digital Advice

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Paul Boag Posted by: Paul Boag On Thursday, 24th November, 2005

A tough decision on accessibility & standards

I made a tough decision yesterday by taking the current Headscape website offline and replacing it with a holding page. Obviously, a web design company without its own website is bad news. However, I believe that leaving the site up would have been even more detrimental.

Accessibility:
The estimated time to read this article is 2 minutes

As you may already know if you read this blog regularly, we have been working on a new Headscape website for sometime. The current site is over three years old and was built in the days before many of us were aware of things like web standards and accessibility. Although, at the time, the site did conform to best practices in web design and accessibility, it now appears horribly out of date.

At Headscape, we work with extremely switched-on clients who specifically ask for sites to be built with standards and accessibility in mind. We were beginning to notice a definite impact on the quality of leads from our site. Although the numbers were still high we were finding that, the values of projects were lower as large clients were put off by our legacy site.

The final nail in the coffin was an interview Andy Clarke gave to Accessify.com in which he said:

"Those people still delivering nested table layout, spacer gifs or ignoring accessibility can no longer call themselves web professionals."

I passionately agree with Andy on this one and Headscape has been working with standards for over two years now. The problem is that our site does not reflect this and I was concerned about how others would perceive us based on our site only. In the end I became convinced that a single page that validated, conformed to the highest standards in accessibility and was built using web standards reflected better on our brand than a whole site of invalid, inaccessible code.

Was it the right decision?

What do you think? Do you think it was the right decision? Which is more damaging; a web standards built holding page or a complete site using out of date development techniques? What would you have done faced with the same dilemma.

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