I don’t really make resolutions at new year, but perhaps if I did it should be this. To be more actively involved in the organisations I care about in making sure that they get solid advice about the web.
Most of us likely have some kind of contact with a small organisation or voluntary group that could need advice about their web presence. It might be a school or religious group, a sports team or club, a small charity or business networking group. Unless someone clues them in and points them in the right direction, they might end up spending desperately needed funds in a misguided way.
I recently came across a site called school-portal.co.uk run by UK company UniServity, who specialise in solutions for the education and voluntary sectors. Of the vast number of schools on that list, I couldn’t find a single one that used valid HTML, nor one that looked like it would pass even the most cursory of accessibility tests. Broken, basically. Having some idea of the financial pressures on UK schools (who will have funded these sites out of their own budgets) I think you’d be hard-pushed to find one school in the list who could afford to have the job re-done properly.
With being a fairly young industry, it may not always be apparent that it’s OK to ask advice from those in the know before proceeding. If an organisation knows an accountant, they’ll usually seek the advice of that person in selecting a firm to balance their books. But do they realise there can be serious consequences for failing to carry out the same due diligence when it comes to their web presence?
So perhaps this year is a good year to step in and offer some advice and guidance to make sure the organisation you care about ends up with nothing less than a standards-based, properly accessible web site. Remember, offering advice doesn’t have to mean volunteering to do the work, and the former is often a more valuable contribution.
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