We exert a huge amount of time and resources to tailor experiences towards users. We try to understand and empathize with them, but fail to simply make things work for entire groups of people.

Card sorting, usability testing, and ethnographic research are all ways to collect information in order to tailor a design to the user. They can be used to understand people and the way they perceive and interact with a product, physical or digital. A huge amount of importance has been placed on humans. This is awesome (in both a philanthropic and business sense), but on the web, we aren't always responsible.

Accessibility, or functionality for entire groups of people, is at the base of the pyramid of needs. Delight created through visuals or interactions, usable navigation, and good content all fail if the interface breaks, is unnavigable, or doesn't load. When something simply does not work due to the lack of Progressive Enhancement, we undermine the entire pyramid.

If something doesn't work right, we get irked, complain about what a bad service it is and then move on, potentially not returning to it later. If someone in a less fortunate part of the globe is trying to visit an inaccessible site, he or she could incur costs for data or be unable to reach important information. In their context, there's no easy fix like changing a line of CSS or switching to the newest browser.

This post doesn't address the power behind the open web or scold deadline pressured developers with clients that don't understand. It doesn't argue for the value of accessibility from a business standpoint or talk about disabilities. It doesn't provide massive amounts of data illustrating the expansion of the device-iverse or mention pervasive computing on the horizon.

Lets just think twice before skipping over responsibility and Progressive Enhancement in relation to UX/Human Centered Design.

Posted on The Pastry Box Project

Thoughts? @Aetherpoint