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Chapter 3. Usability on the Cheap > Recyclable HTML Library

Recyclable HTML Library

Late in the winter of 2003, New York City had a record snowfall. A colleague slipped on her way to work and fractured her right arm. A day or two after the break, we were on the phone trying to schedule a lunch date. “Here is where I find out if I can still use my calendar software,” she muttered. With her right arm out of commission, she could not use her mouse and had to depend instead on her keyboard to navigate her third-party web-based calendar. The task was difficult. Some of the screen areas that she needed to navigate to were hard to reach by hitting the tab key on her keyboard. Unfortunately for my colleague, the calendar's web interface was not designed to have a logical tab order, so she had to punch her way through long lists of menu items before she could click on the tool to schedule a new appointment.

Spinning Straw into Gold

The way you write your HTML can have a large impact on the usability of your site. Bloated markup makes pages slow to download. Badly written HTML forms are frustrating to use. These kinds of problems are easily and affordably corrected with good markup. Paying careful attention to the way you author HTML will result in a tremendous return on the time invested, giving you more control over the user experience that you are creating. We cover more economic advantages to writing good markup in Chapter 7, “Save Time and Money with Web Standards.”



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