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Tuesday, 2 April 2002

I waited a day on posting this, just to make sure nobody thought it was an April Fools’ joke.  Go to http://www.section508.gov/, which is the central hub for information on the piece of U.S. Federal law that mandates accessibility in all Web sites of government agencies, and of those businesses and organizations that do business with or receive money from the U.S. government.  Look at the bottom of the document: “This site best viewed with MS Internet Explorer 5+”.

What?

So I ran the site through the W3C’s markup validator, and got back a report that their markup is broken.  Go figure.  Neither does their CSS validate, and I’m not just talking about the metric ton of warnings the page generates.  No wonder their site looks best in IE5 (for Windows, I assume): odds are it’s the only widely available browser sloppy enough to tolerate their slipshod authoring practices.

It’s things like this that really sap my faith in the intelligence of my fellow man.  Well, that and the e-mail response I saw from the maintainers of the site, which basically said, “IE is the biggest gorilla on the Web so the other 10% of our users can sod off.  And so can you.”  I expect that kind of thing from 14-year-old fanboy site authors, not the people in charge of the government Web site about how Web sites are supposed to be open and accessible to all users.

I’m going to say it right here and now: “this site best viewed in browser X” is shorthand for “this site’s maintainers are too lazy to think about standards compliance, user experience, or cross-browser design.”  Before I get all kinds of “pot, meet kettle” e-mail regarding meyerweb and how it’s designed, you’ll note that I never claimed the site would look better in one browser or another.  If anything, this site looks best in a browser that supports W3C standards.  And I have nothing against their font-sizing widget; I use one myself.  What bothers me is that they can’t be bothered to take simple steps towards the very principles their site espouses, and the browser favoritism they show as a result.

“This site best viewed with MS Internet Explorer 5+”… cripes.  Some days I wonder why we even bother.

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