Over the next few weeks things may look a bit funky on the JCHMusic web site. And not necessarily in a good way. But, like that peasant who got turned into a newt in Monty Python’s Holy Grail? It’ll get better.
The reason for all the transmogrification is that I’m converting the site over to be ‘standards compliant’. That means that all the pages will function as the governing bodies of the almighty interweb intend. (You can get more info on what those ‘standards’ are here, but I must warn you; it’s about as interesting for the layperson as watching paint dry.
In any case, the benefits of this re-design will be:
1. Much faster response–even if you’re still using dial-up (boy am I sorry for you.)
2. A much more consistent look in all desktop browsers.
3. Reasonable presentation in all those new-fangled smartphones, Zunes and iPods.
4. Section 508 compliance.
That last one has a certain relevance for me and is the main reason I’m putting us all through this.
About 18 months ago I started noticing how crap the site looks on various alternative devices such as iPhones and such and that was a bit of an incentive to clean things up. But it’s a lot of work doing a re-design so I put it off. However around the same time, my significant other came into my life, bringing with her not only an iPhone, but also a daughter with a significant disability. And in addition to her grouses about how the site works (or doesn’t work) in her wunder-gizmo, I also began noticing how little of the real world is possible for her daughter to get to, let alone ‘easy’. If you have any disability, you have to plan pretty much every second of your life around it. For most people with disabilities, computers, and more specifically the Internet, are one of the main links to the outside world. Where so many other things in life are closed, the web has the ability to open a thousand doors. So it seems only reasonable that web sites should be accessible to all. The government seems to think so too.
Now ‘Section 508’ is the portion of the federal law governing ‘accessibility’ for a variety of disabilities. It’s the law and it’s supposed to be implemented widely. But it’s not of course; not just here but all over the world. Even the most ‘progressive’ places and institutions find it hard to get with the program. Ramps are expensive. Elevators even more so.
But the great thing about making one’s web site ‘standards compliant’ is that you kill several birds with one stone. Your site runs better, you don’t have to worry about problems with updates to new versions of browsers and devices and you get Section 508 compatibility. If it’s so great, why are less than 1% of all sites currently compliant? Same reason GM kept makin’ SUV’s. ‘Hey if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Most companies simply will not redo their web sites until they’re dragged kicking and screaming to do so.
I don’t have that problem. I can twiddle this thing to my heart’s content and most of you will be OK with it. My only risk is that new arrivals (this is a a business after all) will think it’s about as professional looking as a lemonade stand and click elsewhere, but I’m hoping the product (..er… the music) will carry the day.
So, thanks for your patience. It shouldn’t be too long getting this done. But like that last kitchen remodel you did, it may take a while longer than expected. Hopefully not.
And hopefully, you’ll like the results. For yourself and for those with special needs (or special phones!)
PS: If you, or someone you know uses a special device such as a Kurzweil reader for the blind or other such gizmo, please let me know. I’d love to get as much real-world feedback on our efforts.