Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Usability/Archive 1

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Standardization efforts

((Imported from User:M) I'd like to become involved with any standardization efforts on wikipedia. If you know of any, please leave me a note on my talk page. If there is no major effort, I would like to start one, pending interest in the subject.

There are various problems with many display elements (e.g. boxes, or anywhere that color/html is used):

  • not accessible to the disabled or elderly (brought up by AlMac)
  • not consistent throughout wikipedia
  • not friendly towards several major browsers
  • do not comply with W3C standards

Interested parties: If you are interested in this subject, please leave your timestamped signature under mine:

  • –MT 28 June 2005 23:03 (UTC)
  • Note what I (AlMac) posted here [1] as an initial comment AlMac 28 June 2005 23:17 (UTC)

More AlMac Comments

Top Down Approach

Wikipedia:WikiProject Community


  • There are several layers of potential goals
  • I suggest that as a first stage of addressing this collection of topics, that there be entries in the Wikopedia in general, that define these various topics, then there can be an effort to try to achieve some standards, as generally defined
  • I really hope that the kind of stuff that I am posting here is what you would consider to be constructive.

AlMac 29 June 2005 03:06 (UTC)

    • Yes, it definitely is, but it should be abridged when we move it over to the front. Also, some things like ergonomics would not apply to us (beyond being similar in subject) because we can't really do anything about them. –MT 29 June 2005 18:13 (UTC)
      • Perhaps some of my notes scoping out various related topics should end up in the Talk pages of the articles on those topics, as we move forwards. Thanks AlMac 30 June 2005 08:21 (UTC)

Examples of the Problems

As I encounter Wiki pages that illustrate the kind of problem that this project is all about, I will provide links. I had encountered quite a few before I was invited to join this project.


here I go in a different direction ... there are times that Graphics on Steroids really help GUI

I don't think this has much to do with usability :) –MT 7 July 2005 23:32 (UTC)
  • My Explanation
    • I brought the problem to the attention of the artist, who is in the process of fixing it.

Growing Expertise

AlMac/Growing Expertise is another of my ideas. It might be aplied to what educational path might we suggest to a student of Usability to become thoroughly knowledgeable in it? AlMac 6 July 2005 18:33 (UTC)

have a look at [2] and [3], but especially [4]. Wikipedia itself doesn't aim to teach, it's more of a referance. –MT 7 July 2005 03:38 (UTC)


Concepts which AlMac thinks belong in the Wikipedia, if not already here, that have relevance to this Project:

  • Many articles in Category:Accessibility
  • Accessibility: People with physical disabilities can be blocked from practical access, unless accommodations are made
      • Wheel Chair ramps into public buildings
      • Wheel chair ramps at cross walks
      • The handicapped get parking spaces with minimal transit distance into buildings
      • Workplace to make arrangements for handicapped ... able to get into the building ... able to access the work to be done
      • Public accommodations (Hotels, Restaurants, Airlines) to take reasonable measures to provide access
    • Computer accessibility
  • Cross-Browser topics
    • I did a search of Wiki for articles on "browser" ... there are an enormous volume, potentially some duplication ... perhaps some title other than Cross-Browser would be better. Have you seen the articles
  • Rlderly, challenges for them
    • As we all grow older, problems develop in which we learn that some of them would not be so bad had we only made some life style and nutritional choices when we were younger
      • senility variants
      • bones break real easy
      • senses deteriorate
    • not so bad means, for example we can live 10-20 more years before onset of something ... get it at age 80-90 instead of 60-70. Also that it gets from bad to real worse in 20 years instead of in 2 years.
    • This is a universal family of related topics that belongs in encyclopaedia like Wikopedia. Most everyone ends up needing help with vision and hearing, and this includes Internet Access. Many web sites are friendly, but not to that segment of population whose challenges of the elderly have progressed to various stages.
      • Think of it as glasses for the Internet Eyes, in which some of the glasses need to be part of the web site.
    • Most, not yet old, people not want to think about old age, eventual death, need for a living will, so about all we do is save money against retirement. Those people, who are exceptions to this general rule, need an encyclopaedia of how to plan to avoid or minimize the health (and other) challenges typical of the elderly.
  • Ergonomics: Helping people avoid having disabilities in the first place.
  • Update Link Page
    • Suppose you accessing this site with Browser whatever & you not at latest version ... is it appropriate to have a page that says latest available & offer links to vendors involved?
  • Update Settings page
    • Suppose you accessing this site with Browser or Operating System whatever ... is it appropriate for this site to engage in detecting what you have, then tell you that some other settings would be nicer for you to have when visiting this site?
  • Usability: avoiding user-hostile so bad that some person cannot use the site.
  • Usernomics: Having web sites that are friendly to many people, instead of saying what settings they need to change on their computers to be able to access the site effectivly
  • Web accessibility
  • Wikipedia:Categories, lists, and series boxes
    • Pros & Cons for each type of content presentation might consider challenges relevant to navigation by disabled, such as those not using standard mouse / keyboard
    • e.g. getting at category links
    • importance of consistency of navigation
  • Wikipedia:Naming_policy

Major updates AlMac 30 June 2005 08:02 (UTC)

Search Engine-Friendly
  • There is a topic of web design associated with structuring your content with keywords, some hidden from view by someone reading the text, that will cause Search Engines to find your article when someone is doing a search that you think is relevant to your article.
    • This includes the use of terminology in general use that the article writer thinks is not the right terminology, but you want someone who does not know the right terminology to still be able to find your article, like someone looking something up in a dictionary, who looking in the wrong place because they got the spelling wrong.
Other possibly related

As I noodle around WikiP, I sometimes encounter topics that MAY be related to this project, but I may not understand the big picture well enough as yet.

    • Hard to find Pages [5]

AlMac 2 July 2005 05:11 (UTC)


  • Visit sites mentioned in Terminology section above
  • Put on Watch List
  • Check history who been editing those pages
    • View their actual edits to see if they doing positive contributions that seem to display relevant know how that would be an asset to this project
  • Visit their Talk pages and make brief comment that they might be interested in this
Similar Projects

I have some AlMac observations about possible similar interests between this project and some others that I have encountered while noodling around Wiki. AlMac 4 July 2005 18:56 (UTC)

Cross Browser

  • Ideally what I would like to see for a community project such as this, is an addition to the Toolbox.
    • View this page as it would be seen by ... and then there are some boxes to click
      • Which browser, software version of that browser, typical settings available
    • So we get our content nicely done, and before wrapping up our article, we take a tour of seeing what it looks like from other browsers, to check if there are any serious problems
    • The toolbox process might also have links to statistics on the relative popularity of alternate browsers, and some indication or links to why people would select this or that as their browser of choice.
Familiar Links

See this Wiki Books grievance. Person expects to find a certain look and feel, and is lost without it. AlMac 14:35, 15 July 2005 (UTC)

Structure Alternatives

What is missing from this list?

  • Color standards
  • HTML and CSS
  • Plug-ins
    • example ... something to our browser to make it easier to do spell checking, and to catch something we doing that violates Usability standards
  • RSS


  • I started this section before starting the Terminology one ... there is some duplication
    • There is a concept known as Usability which has to do with the fact that many web sites are plain hostile to vast segments of the Internet population
      • One rule that I have a bad habit of violating is that I tend to forget that some other people have a lower bandwidth than me. In other words the bigger a page is, in terms of numbers of screens to scroll thru, the more "gas" it requires on the PC doing the looking. Thus, while I personally might like an article that has lots of sub-sections using the equal signs for organization, some other person with less bandwidth than is available to me, is going to have a hassle accessing the page that I am oblivious to.
      • It might be nice for other users if such scenarios identified and fixed before they have this [6] problem.
      • Pages need to have some kind of ranking ... the longer they get, a reminder to consider this nuance, and think about practicality of breaking the content down into smaller more focused sub-topics.
Usage Statistics

There may already be such a page and I not yet encountered it. Based on where most Wiki users are in the world, in careers, etc. there will be times of day and week with much more heavy access than others, and when practical for us, we would like to know which of the times of day that are convenient for us to access the Wiki might coincide with the least volume of other Internet users, so as to minimize problems with apparent lockups or slow access.


Due to growth in malware, many people turn off ability of their PCs to take advantage of all the features of graphics & links that are available.

Other people love to use fancy features.

There's a potential conflict there in which one group of users at risk of being discouraged from participating in a community that has lots of the other kind of user.

Some people turn off cookies, are on older versions of Operating Systems, have slower bandwith, have turned off various features.

Some of this is due to bad experiences.

  • Spyware is now the biggest hassle on home computers and 99% of us have no idea how we got it, but we have some suspicions with respect to default settings.
  • Do an upgrade and now can't use a favorite application.
  • Increase resolution, and a farorite application dies.
  • Some people not know how to fix things that get messed up, or not have the patience to go look it up again.

What percentage of Internet users are like this? AlMac suspects the # greater than people with actual disabilities.

Slow Bandwidth

Smaller communities, rural areas, are sometimes slow to get what passes for high speed Internet service. I (AlMac) live in a city of about 1/2 million people. It was only 2 years ago that we got what passes for high speed internet. Previously I was on a dial up modem in which the phone line to my residence was 300 baud which explains why my 56k modem (56,000 baud) was experiencing poor performance. Many other Internet users are in the kind of boat that I was in 2 years ago. Try to access a site with fancy graphics and it just locks up the PC.

A couple years ago I visited some friends over Christmas. They were on a slow dialup using Windows 3.0 on hardware that had got to be 10 years old or more. I asked why not take advantage of the under $ 1 k PCs out there. Several reasons, it is a matter of family priorities.

They have a big family, and serving the needs of the family most important. Computer access is part of that, but a small part for them. More important is outdoor activities (stay healthy, socialized), participate in public library.

I also suspect part of the reason is where they are on economic spectrum. Postal worker, part time Minister, Nurse. Gotta be long hours, not much $ to show for it.

It was only a few years ago that 1/3 US population did not have a computer in the home.

Print this Page

I came across this discussion [7] at about # 44 on the Help Desk and thought there was relevance to this project.

I just had a visitation to PC Hell and found it neccessary to go to Norton Symantec How do you Fix this and that (My Live Update is locking up in Illegal operations and now I am told my PC of many years is in active mode) so I get to print this page & how the heck do I print it (well control P did the trick, but it would have been nice had that factoid been in plain sight). AlMac 30 June 2005 09:03 (UTC)

Older folks

    • There is the concept that as we grow older, our eyesight deteriorates, and stuff that was easy on the eyes when we were younger is now a pain.
      • This is not merely a matter of needing glasses to deal with size of print
      • The main issue is color contrast.
      • Light colored text on a dark color background with poor contrast ... the dark tends to "bleed" so the actual text becomes virtually invisible
    • For people with younger eyes, there is no problem, so there is a failure to appreciate how serious this problem can become.
    • AlMac estimates that more web sites on the Internet are hostile to older people than are friendly.
      • This means that many sites have in effect stated "This site is for young users. We are not interested in having older wiser experienced people participating here."


    • For various different disabilities there will be
      • various degrees of hassle in implementing what it takes to make sites accessible for them
      • helpful to know statistics of general population, using computers, who have this or that problem
      • it becomes an issue of prioritization
      • Let's help solve a problem where there are many thousands of people affected & solve them first
      • Then solve a problem that has smaller # of victims, and higher level of hassle to fix.
    • There has been an evolution in the terminology associated with helping to serve the disabled so that they can be full members of our society and community
      • When computing first became inexpensive for the masses of users, there was a rise in value for the disabled, because most any text was accessible via Brail computing tools
      • When GUI Graphical User Interface, known to most people now via Microsoft Windows, some remember the Apple Macintosh, few remember that the concept was first invented by Xerox ... anyhow, as people moved to that kind of computing from the prior text based standards, it ruined access to Internet text for people using Brail tools
      • There is a US law about equal access for the Disabled, and it does not make exceptions for the Internet. Enforcement has been voluntary and glacially slow. Most people are unaware of this topic.
        • I have a point of view that helping people less fortunate than myself is a right thing to do.

AlMac 28 June 2005 23:26 (UTC)

Some Esoteric Resources
  • Blind of New Hampshire


    • Some context here ... due to a series of crashes on my home PC, I lost the software that is used to update my Blog and I have not got a Round TUIT on fixing that. I still remember some of the topics I placed on my Blog, that were relevant to this topic. The stuff here is dated, but have value to anyone who is generally new to this topic.
    • I met Ed in the Science Fiction fandom community, where we are both active in some of the same organizations.
  • Dive into Accessibility [9]
    • This is a series of lessons on what the problems are, for a variety of different kinds of disabilities of Internet users, and how to solve them, by site redesign.

AlMac 29 June 2005 00:59 (UTC)


Different kinds of blindness mean different kinds of problem solving.

Total Blindness

Here is someone who must be using either some Brail method of communicating with the computer, and / or voice.

Forget about them being able to use a mouse.

What they need are keyboard short cuts to accomplish what sighted people use to point and click at places on the screen.

Low Vision

Consider a person who has to use a magnifying glass to read. This is also a high proportion of the elderly.

To an extent a person can mess with settings on their PC to help with this process. Now I (AlMac) knew such a person who had a program to take data from computer screen and blow it up so that where most people see say 100 characters across the screen and 20-30 lines of text per screen, he was looking at perhaps 8 words on 1 screen.

I have no idea what the statistics are on how prevalent this scenario is. My friend was not blind, but he was legally blind, which means could not get a driver's license for one thing.

Color Blindness

There are different degrees and combinations. I think the most common is red green, where red and green are identical, so standardization of traffic lights is really critical for them.

Elsewhere I had a comment about Toolbox. A possibility (I not know how much hassle to set it up, compared to other software priorities)

  1. Click on Toolbox Color review option
    1. Be told # of colors on this page, and relative volume each.
    2. Do a check box ... let's assume a potential user has this or that disability ... how would this page appear to them?

AlMac 29 June 2005 03:33 (UTC)

There's mention of color in the Guide to writing better articles but the statement is incomplete with respect to my point about color contrast. Ideally text should be dark against a light background. A lot of the color, that I see used at Wiki, has a dark background that obscures the text. This might be one place to address this in summary. AlMac 8 July 2005 13:36 (UTC)

Can't Keyboard

Think folks in wheel chair or worse ... those where their hands shake. How do they communicate with their computer?

Some use voice.

How do such users interconnect with web sites when they can't use a mouse or the keyboard? Well some web sites are just too hostile to such people.

For what percentage of the population is this a problem justifying efforts to make web sites friendly to them?

Consider the death rate in recent military conflicts. Take that number and multiply by 20. That gives an estimate of how many people from that war, are in some way disabled physically, let alone people disabled from traffic accidents and other causes.

There's also an issue with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Certain kinds of computer usage can increase risk of developing problems that make access using keyboard or mouse inadvisable.

The Cyber responsibility is to identify what these e-health hazards are and advise people thru Ergonomics articles how to avoid falling into certain traps. But there are vast numbers of people who have fallen into this trap, cannot get out, and now are blocked from access to most web sites. AlMac 29 June 2005 03:33 (UTC)

Common Mistakes

Wiki is already pretty good in avoiding common mistakes of other web sites, but some volunteers can be oblivious to the issues.

There are articles on common mistakes of web design, which wd could have links to. AlMac 29 June 2005 03:33 (UTC)


    • There is also an issue of ease of access by people whose native language is different.
        • Me being in software development for the IBM Midrange, for me this is where we need to think outside the box.
          • I work in an environment where two people can look at the same chunk of text.
          • One person sees the text in English
          • Another sees it in Spanish
          • A third in a third language
          • Now how this is accomplished is a software headache that may or may not be translatable to other computing environments.

AlMac 29 June 2005 03:05 (UTC)


A few places I mention the concept of maximizing benefit of our limited resources when there is a big task

  • There may be volunteers later who are best equipped for certain tasks
  • Implementing standards can be a hassle
  • Some of the populations of people, we might want to serve, might be too small to justify the effort.
    • However, if there is some population abandoned by the rest of the web, there is an impact on our demographics by reaching out to them.

How do we find statistics on the populations?

  • Locate organizations that are aimed at serving sub-groups of people we want to make sure we are being friendly to.
    • This also means we have a reality check on the problems that need fixing.
    • This is also a place to inform when we have implemented the fixes.
  • Census Bureau


Is some content inappropriate for children below some age thresh hold? Do what about that?

Aside from the topic of the material content perhaps being inappropriate, there is the reading level. Is it aimed at graduates of secondary school for example?

Simple English Wikipedia is there. Quinobi

Statistics on Disabilities

  • According to the book "Usability for the Web", around 22% of the US population have some kind of disability.
    • This is way higher than AlMac thought.
      • I assume physical disabilities, as opposed to mental POV and uncivility hang ups
  • Census Bureau 1999 data on disabilities for US population age 16 and older
    • 21.8 % have any disability
    • 4.4 % difficulty walking
    • 3.5 % vision problems
    • 3.3 % hearing problems
    • 3.0 % difficulty using hands
    • 1.4 % learning disability
More Resources and References
  • Access e-bility [10] for people with disabilities, their families, and health professionals
    • Access e-bility web design guidance [11]
  • Disability Statistics ... AlMac position that with limited resources, efforts should focus first on helping people who have trouble accessing web sites, where society has a lot more such people than with some other problem
    • ACS 2003 American Community Survey of six broad classifications of disabilities [12]
    • Census Bureau of USA has statistics of relevance [13]
      • FAQ [14]*
      • Links [15] to other relevant disability statistical sites, such as
        • Bureau of US labor statistics
        • Myths about people with disabilities
        • Students with Disabilities
          • An exception to AlMac general rule about allocating resources to help where there are the most people with problems ... We (well me anyway) want to help future generations get a decent education, which can be more difficult for kids with disabilities.
        • Health and Rehabilitation support
    • Disability Statistics Center [16] = USA demographics (this may vary around the world)
      • Understanding terminology and concepts when studying the data ... many lay people have trouble distinquishing nuances between the different disability problems out there [17]
      • Finding Disability Data on the Web [18]
        • There are links at this site to both USA and International statistics on demographics of disabled populations such as
          • US Census Bureau
          • US National Health
          • UN Humanitarian
          • World Health Organization
    • United Nations statistics on disabilities by nation [19]
  • Internet Accessibility Inititatives
    • Beyond Disability [20] ... here is an article by a blind person on the state of art of implementing relevant standards, and addressing common misconceptions
      • Some interesting points here
        • Can people with small screens like PDAs get at relevant info from the web?
        • The blind are not the only people using speech interfaces
    • USA Government Access rules [21]** World Enable [22]
    • W3C/WAI [23]
  • Legal implications for Web site design thanks to laws mandating access by people with disabilities
    • JISC Legal Information Service Overview [24]
  • Tools to use to inspect some site to find out what the accessibility problems are that need fixing, with suggestions how to do so
    • Bobby

Periodic additions AlMac 30 June 2005 08:17 (UTC)


Keep in mind the difference between usability and accessibility, though they are obviously closely related. - Omegatron June 29, 2005 18:15 (UTC)

Thanks AlMac 30 June 2005 08:18 (UTC)