Tag Archives: usability

Web designers: your chance to be a super hero!

 The nonprofit organization Knowbility now has 27 nonprofits and artists that have signed up to participate in OpenAIR2018 and get new web sites via its acclaimed hackathon, which takes place in February and March 2018. There is room for a few more nonprofits, NGOs, charities and artists – but now, Knowbility is turning its attention to recruiting web design teams.

OpenAIR web design teams are volunteers-turned-superheroes. They receive training and mentoring from some of the nation’s most prominent web design accessibility experts as they design new web sites for participating client organizations and artists. Design teams have about five weeks after the start date on February 8, 2018 to create these web sites that comply with ADA and Section 508 standards. The training and mentoring that design teams receive is valued at over $4,000 – but participating web design teams pay just $150.

Web sites are judged by Knowbility’s judging panel over a six week period (the nonprofits and artists get access to the designs to use on their own sites as soon as the design period is over, but team original designs are preserved for judging). Awards will be announced in May during Knowbility’s AccessU accessibility conference.

OpenAIR web design teams can be professional web designers, university faculty, university students – anyone who has designed web sites but wants to take their skills to the next level.

This is a great opportunity not only to get top-notch training in web design accessibility; it’s also a fantastic opportunity to:

  • enhance your virtual team skills and brag about being involved in virtual volunteering
  • be a part of an internationally-recognized event
  • help nonprofits that are addressing a variety of causes – fair housing, help for seniors, children’s education and more
  • gain recognition for your individual or your company’s corporate social responsibility focus / philanthropy
  • compete with other web designers

Your team could be the IT staff from a government agency. Or the entire IT department at a large corporation. Or staff from a savy hot tech startup. Or university students. Or university faculty. If you are an individual web designer, you can register as an individual and you will be matched with a team that has room for you or with other individuals who want to participate and join a team. Teams must have at least 4 members and no more than 6.

After the competition, Knowbility also asks design teams to guide their client organization’s through the process of replacing their current web site with the one the design team has developed, and to provide some initial guidance to the nonprofit in case they have any difficulties with their new site. This is not a requirement, but the guidance is greatly appreciated by the nonprofit clients (otherwise, the guidance will be provided by Knowbility).

A fee of $150 per team is due at registration. If you are an individual, note in your registration that you want to be a part of a team; you can work out how to pay your registration once your team is finalized.

Teams may register with a nonprofit or artist they already have a relationship with (however, there is also a $100 nonprofit registration fee – and if the nonprofit client or artist has to register ASAP, because the window for those registrations is FAST closing!).

Register ASAP! I suggest a deadline of January 12, 2018 to register! 

The Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) has been happening since the 1990s. It used to be an onsite hackathon, mostly in Austin, Texas, and the designs happened in ONE DAY – back then, the nonprofits didn’t have web sites at all. I was a part of it back then – I’m thrilled to be a part of it again.

Also see:

Are you a web designer? Then this is for YOU

The Accessibility Internet Rally is the centerpiece project of the nonprofit organization Knowbility.org, based in Austin, Texas. It’s my favorite corporate volunteering event, my favorite group volunteering event, my favorite tech volunteering event, and my favorite episodic volunteering event. And now that it’s available to anyone to participate online, it’s poised to become my favorite online volunteering event!

The Open Accessibility Internet Rally (OpenAir) is an international community hackathon with a unique twist – accessibility! OpenAIR increases awareness of the tools and techniques that make the Internet accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities, and it also enhances participants’ accessible design skills. Unlike other hackathons, the things that get developed at this event are used LONG after the event is over! Unlike other hackathons, this event changes people and the way they work for years to come.

Experts in the accessibility field will act as mentors during the competition – that’s some primo networking! Truly, participate in this, and you increase your own marketability as a web designer!

Added bonus: this year, OpenAIR has added new game elements, leaderboards, and fabulous prizes.

OpenAIR begins in October and wraps up with an awards ceremony in February. Requirements to participate:

  • Skilled in web production: Designers, developers, QA testers, we’re looking at you!
  • Passionate about making a difference: Help non-profits, create inclusive content, empower everyone to access the web.
  • Eager to learn: You’ll receive amazing training and support: prepare to be challenged!
  • Ready to level up: You don’t mind getting a little glory for your skills and your team.

If this describes you or your team, don’t miss out! There are limited spots, and the competition is just about to start. This year’s OpenAIR kicks off at the Google campus in Austin, TX in October, streamed live across the world.

Reserve your team on OpenAIR now! (The first 10 teams that sign up receive a custom game avatar for the competition)

Don’t have a team? Don’t think you can put together a team on your own? Still want to participate as a designer? No problem! Register as an individual and Knowbility will help you join a team!

Are you a nonprofit that wants to be the recipient of an OpenAIR web design/collaboration? Register here.

Open Air Hackathon – Nonprofits Get Web Sites, Designers Get Accessibility Training

The Accessibility Internet Rally is a community hackathon with a unique twist – Internet accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities.

AIR benefits nonprofit organizations and schools in any community by providing them with free, professionally designed, accessible websites.

AIR benefits participating volunteers, who are web designers, by providing them with increased awareness of the tools and techniques that make the Internet accessible to everyone – including people with disabilities – thereby increasing skills they can take back to their work places.

The result: dozens of professionally designed, accessible websites for nonprofit groups, and web designers with new skills and understanding regarding accessible design and usability.

Open AIR Registration for both nonprofits that want web sites and teams is NOW.

The competition – the hackathon — begins October 23, 2013 (& and lasts a month).

If you are a web developer, professional or aspiring (but with the needed skills), sign up a team of three to six members via the online developer registration. Besides helping nonprofits and learning new skills, you will also get the opportunity to win tickets to SXSW Interactive 2015 in Austin, Texas.

As a participant and competitor you will:

  • Be matched with a non-profit organization, budding artist, or worthy community organization (though you can also help a nonprofit register and be asked to be matched with that particular nonprofit)
  • Create an exciting, interactive web experience that is accessible to everyone.
  • Network with area artists, web professionals, and other really cool people.
  • Get to complete your development project in a more relaxed time frame – unlike past events that happened in one day, onsite, the development cycle is 30 days for Open AIR and can be done from your own location, giving your team the opportunity to create something really special fromanywhere.
  • Have access to training worth over $4,000

Don’t have a team to register with? Submit an individual registration and we will work to place you on a great team. Knowbility recommends a $25.00 donation to support the Open AIR program in lieu of a team registration fee for individual registrants.

Fees are $100 for the first 4 team members, $125 for teams of five, $150 for teams of six.

For nonprofits: register for free and if you are selected, a $100 registration fee will be due.

The Accessibility Internet Rally is open to participants in three categories:

  • Community Organizations: to qualify in this category, entities must be either a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization or an entity that exists for community benefit such as a church group, an arts organization, or a performance organization, to be decided at the discretion of the Organizer.
  • Web design team: to participate in this category, a group of up to 6 web and related professionals sign on as a team. Each web design team shall be considered a single Entrant. No person may enter more than once, either individually or as part of any team. If an Entrant uses the name of a corporation, partnership or other legal entity, the Entrant certifies it has the permission of the entity to do so.
  • Individual web professional: Individuals may sign on to participate and will be matched to other individuals at the discretion of the Organizaer to create a Web Design Team.

All Entrants must be officially registered to participate in the competition.

Entrants will be given access to a collection of online resources (training) to help them build accessible Web sites. Entrants will be expected to read and familiarize themselves with these resources prior to the Rally.

Entrants are required to submit their Entries in accordance with a mechanism determined by the Organizer This mechanism shall include instructions for preparing files for upload, file specifications including file type and file size and location for uploading.

Here are the complete details of participation, including team commitments.

Here is registration info for both teams and nonprofits.

How Yahoo could THRIVE

Yes, this nonprofit management consultant is going to offer advice for a for-profit company on the ropes. I know it’s usually the opposite – corporations tell mission-based organizations – nonprofits, government agencies, schools, etc. – how they should do this or that. But there’s a LOT the for-profit world can learn from the mission-based world – and from very average computer users. And I’ve been a long-time Yahoo user – and have found myself migrating to other services, particularly over the last five years. Yahoo should listen to me!

Your mission

Let’s start with that word mission. Yahoo, what is your mission? Why do you exist, beyond to make money so you can pay staff and shareholders? I don’t know what your mission is. You need a clear mission statement that guides every business decision you make – and keeps you from engaging in activities that get you as muddled as you are now.

Yahoo home page & news search site

Let’s look at the Yahoo home page or the Yahoo news site in comparison to, say, your arch rival’s, Google’s home page or the Google news site. What I see when I look at your pages: a bloated mess. What I experience: memory-hungry sites that take forever to download unless I’m on the very best computer, sites that like some browsers but not others. Sites that seem to have no reason behind the design – my eye has no idea where to go. The experience is frustrating and confusing.

Your guiding principle in your redesign should be quick to download. Put posters up all over your offices that say lightening-fast to download. Test and retest the design on a variety of devices and operating systems. Download speeds need to be lightening fast for everyone, not just those with incredibly fast Internet connections and using the same tools as your web designers.

Your news site search also seems to be broken, and has been for many, many months: I’ve often heard breaking news on TV, or want to look up the results of a sports event that has been over for a few hours, even 24 hours. I’ve used your search site to find those results, and the results are, more often than not, not the latest. I’m tired of looking up the results of a game that’s long over and getting back stories published the day before the game ever happened. I go to Google and get the results I need. So – FIX THIS.

That said, the results page for your news site search has the kind of design the rest of your site needs: simple, easy to navigate, easy to read.

Yahoogroups

Yahoogroups is a far superiour platform for online discussion groups and online collaboration than LinkedIn groups or GoogleGroups. The web interface is much easier to read and navigate than those platforms – although it could use a refreshing upgrade (but not anything that will make it more bloated in terms of bandwidth!). I cannot count how many times someone tells me they need an online tool that will allow them to collaborate with remote staff or students, or allow members of a project to share a calendar, have a shared but publicly-private message space for a group or class, and various other features – when they say they want a basic cloud-based, file-sharing platform – and when I show them YahooGroups, they say, “This has everything I need! How did I not know about this?”

How did they not know about YahooGroups? You don’t advertise it. I’m a better advocate for this service of yours than you are!

In addition to all the advanced features, YahooGroups allows for group members who do not want to join Yahoo to receive and respond to messages via email – and, like it or not, there are still millions of folks who prefer to interact with online groups that way. That’s a major draw to YahooGroups among some folks I work with.

Push Yahoogroups! Have people talking about it at conferences and on various online fora where people are asking, “Where can I find a group that does this and this and this?” Advertise it on TV. Highlight organizations, families, and other groups that love it oh-so-much and are using it for so many different reasons.

Want to make money with it? I would happily pay a monthly fee to get rid of the advertising. I’m not alone. Offer an affordable rate – say, $100 a year – for a group to have all ads removed from the web site and from emails sent from the group. I’d pay that for my group, which I use to distribute my newsletter, Tech4Impact.

Yahoo IM

Interesting that most people I work with also have Yahoo IM, and have for years. Since my colleagues all use cross-platform IM tools (I use Adium), what platform we all have should be moot, yet so many of us are still on Yahoo. But that could change. Are you going to keep Yahoo super-simple to use and integrate with other IM platforms? Are you going to make it the fastest and most reliable, or are you going to bloat it up with features that will eat up bandwidth?

Yahoomail

I have my own domain name and, therefore, my own custom email address. Yet, I also have a Yahoomail account too: I like using it for ecommerce (for anything I buy online) and the spam filter rocks. And the text isn’t as tiny as Googlemail – and I’m so tired of tiny online text. Advertise Yahoomail!

Shine

Get rid of Shine. Or radically alter it.

I don’t want advice on shoes (unless it’s advice for motorcycle boots), I don’t read horoscopes and loathe any publication that thinks it’s what women want, and I need advice for saving money that has less to do with bargains at department stories (how to get that designer look for less!) and more to do with how to save money on utility bills, water bills, rent, gas, etc. Movie news is fun – but I would prefer information about the best places to go in Canada or Mexico for single women travelers, how to get started kayaking in my 40s, the realities of starting a dog-walking business, certifications offered through most community colleges that can help my career prospects, the easiest veggies to grow in a tiny space, etc. I want something that it fierce and funny and intelligent. Partner with the people behind the magazine Bust and do something that women would actually like to read every day.

YahooAnswers

YahooAnswers is NOT living up to its potential. It could be awesome. Instead, the same questions are getting asked again and again on YahooAnswers. Some version of I’m 13/14 and I want to volunteer in my hometown with animals. How can I do that? gets posted to the community service section EVERY DAY. YahooAnswers needs a FAQs, with answers. And you need to pay some experts to regularly monitor and answer questions in certain sections, to ensure people are getting quality answers. For instance, give PeaceCorps and Girl Scouts small grants to cover their staff time for spending a few minutes every day on YahooAnswers and answering questions regarding their respective organizations.

Flickr

QUIT MESSING WITH FLICKR. Photos already take up a lot of bandwidth – stop adding scripts and other “features” that make it even more bloated!

Get Personal

I never see your staff on TV being interviewd or offering commentary. I don’t hear about your staff doing something wacky, or philanthropic, or participating in take-your-dog-to-work day. I don’t see or hear them at the conferences I go to. I don’t see them hosting webinars to help different business sectors, including nonprofits, to get the most our of the Interwebs. You’re just this faceless company, a fortress, with web offerings that are, more and more, not what I want or need. I don’t see you sponsoring or participating in things like AIR events by Knowbility.

Who are you, Yahoo? How are you going to let me know who you are? Woo me, Yahoo. Woo me.

Is your web site for everyone, or just the elite?

For three days the last week of March, I was in a place that had very slow Internet access: a senior citizens home. No, I’m not a senior citizen yet, but my grandmother is, and I was staying with her while visiting family back in Kentucky.

I was profoundly disappointed to find so many, many of your web sites that were not accessible with a slow Internet connection.

People don’t visit web sites for flashy graphics or award-winning designs. They visit web sites – particularly those for nonprofits, NGOs, schools, state offices and other mission-based organizations — to:

  • get directions to your organization
  • find out where to park once they are there
  • see what hours you are open
  • read more about your upcoming programs, events or activities
  • find out how your organization involves volunteers and if volunteering is something that might interest them
  • see how your organization spends donations
  • see how your organization might help them, a family member, a neighbor, a friend, etc.
  • see if you have any jobs available
  • read about your accomplishments
  • and to retrieve various other information.

Do you want everyone to be able to access this information, or just those with the best Internet access?

Not everyone has broadband. Not everyone has a fast Internet connection. If your web site isn’t as accessible as it can possibly be, you are leaving out potential donors, clients, volunteers and others. And maybe that’s okay with you – maybe you are focused only on the elites of the Internet.

But if you do want to be a resource for everyone, then it’s high time you find out just how quickly your web site loads on a slow Internet connection. Ask your volunteers for help in finding people to test your site. To not do so is to say to many, many people, “We don’t want you as a donor, a client or a volunteer.” Do you really want to do that?

Volunteer online & make web sites accessible!

Knowbility is hosting a terrific online event, AIR Interactive, that gives online volunteers a chance to either

    1. create an accessible website for a musician or arts web site of your choice and submit the URL by March 5th.

OR 

  1.  choose from these sites and critique the accessibility features and redesign one page for accessibility. Submit by March 5th.

AIR-Interactive participants help ensure that as arts go online, rich cultural experiences can be enjoyed by everyone – including people with disabilities.

Online volunteers need to register and then access online tutorials. There are two call-in conferences for participants to receive live consultations.

“We are accumulating some fabulous prizes including round trip for two from Southwest Airlines, SXSW passes for 2012 and more.”

Knowbility is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas with a mission to ensure barrier-free IT – supporting the independence of people with disabilities by promoting the use and improving the availability of accessible information technology. It’s traditional Accessibility Internet Rallies (AIR) are onsite web design competitions to benefit local nonprofit organizations and schools by providing them with free, professionally designed ACCESSIBLE websites. In these events, of professional web developers learn skills to create accessible web content and then use those new skills to create accessible websites for local community groups. The result: dozens of professionally designed, accessible websites are donated to nonprofit groups and hosted for free for one year.

The AIR Interactive event allows anyone with Internet access to participate! It’s a great example of virtual volunteering!