Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Out like a lion

Late spring seems to have brought out the confrontationist in me.

First it was Donald Norman and his assertion that simplicity on the web is overrated. Now it's Lyle Kantrovich and his rail against sitemaps in Sitemaps are Stupid (Guides are Good).

Guides may very well provide distinct advantages over sitemaps. But calling them "stupid"? That seems incredibly harsh.

Once again (at least to my eyes), the author is not taking into account the special-needs user . In many cases, these text-only representations of site structure may be the only way for certain user types to navigate with any degree of confidence -- for example, those who rely on screen readers, or those who have trouble with sites containing high levels of rich media (navigation in Flash, etc.)

Sitemaps may indeed be fairly useless for "normal" people, who have good vision and/or a reasonable degree of computer literacy, but their presence on web sites seems to me to be a very small price to pay to ensure that the content is accessible to as many people as possible.

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