There has been a lot of discussion and some pretty angry posts about the new ravelry theme. People are removing their patterns from there. Digital Accessibility is my job. I am not a web designer but can explain how different users access digital content. If necessary I can also help them find the most comfortable way for them to read or access websites. I will admit I’ve kept away from the Ravelry discussions till now as having in the past added my I like to think, quite knowledgeable comments been shouted down.
Firstly, the new design had animations. These are always, always a bad idea. If someone tells you they are a good idea – remind them of this. Automated animations are a bad idea. It demonstrates so well the need for comprehensive user testing. These issues would have been pointed out immediately. The team are now undertaking user testing but it is such a shame to have to go through a lot of bad press and feeling unnecessarily.
The old Ravelry site was looking dated and certainly was in need of rejuvenation. The new site is much better and has clear pages with black text on a white background There are options on your individual profile to stop any animations or to remove shadows that can also provide visual stress. Many of the users have complained that they have succumbed to migraines due to the new site. The animations most certainly would have contributed to this. If the white background is causing this then, I would imagine these users would have the relevant colour settings on their monitors changed to a less straining option. There are many of these – I suggest a cream background would create less visual distress. Having said all that – there are many users, that I follow on Instagram complaining about the black text on a white background – in captions on their instagram pages with black text on a white background. Of course I have no idea if their settings preclude this on instagram, but if they do, why are these settings not being transferred to ravelry when they load the pages.
Just to be clear – if you find black text on a white background to be difficult to read, or to induce headaches, – change your settings. There are many generic options in Firefox, Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
Ravelry yesterday added another post. This includes details of ‘web accessibility’ and comments about Alt Text for images. Alt text provides a short description of an image for screen reader users – someone who needs the contents of a screen read out loud to them. It was this post that prompted me to write this. They mention that their accessibility score with this statement. ” It is also affected by photos that do not have alt text (photos only have alt text if the uploader adds a caption).” This is all very well but I have never seen an option for Alt text on Ravelry. This is because there isn’t one. It is true as the statement says that a caption provides alt text for a photo but only on the page where it is uploaded. So for example – I have just added captions to one of my patterns and then run a test on that page. Hurrah – success.
Alt text moves with the photo if it is linked on another page and captions in general don’t. So if I then look at my Counterchange Shawl from another page – the thumbnails used on my pattern pages show that the Alt Text is missing – see the big red blotch. This is because, Alt text and captions are different. This is not a ‘how to’ post but a simple discussion prompted by a comment that I feel was totally out of order. It reads to me like the users are being ‘blamed’ for any poor accessibility scores, when the whole site is very very poor.
The Ravelry front page has no Alt Text on the logo or the images so it is slightly disingenuous to suggest that the users are responsible for their poor accessibility score. I also checked my profile photo and there is no option for a caption or Alt Text. Perhaps they need to look at their underlying code to enable these options for their users. I am sure people will happily add them.
I can provide a document on how to write Alt Text if needed.