Comment on Introduction To Skins

  1. Fractal Image

    I wanted to leave some feedback on the skin process and site design, and I don't think a support request is really right for this, so here it is. Please, don't anyone feel pressured to answer immediately, or at all.

    I will try very hard to avoid having this sound like, "Start over from the top and try again," because that's not helpful, and I don't think that is what you (you is always plural in this post) should do. I'm also going to avoid prefacing every statement with I think, or in my opinion, because that should be obvious.

    Build into the site and the default skins the principles of universal design. Make the AO3 a site every user can enjoy.

    1. The bare minimum of skins that should be available for all users are:

    *skins that provide overlays to the site design that are required for users with identified disabilities. The screenreader skins. Large font skins. Others I likely don't know anything about.
    *skins that provide a basic set of contrast and brightness options for users. That would be one each of light on dark, and dark on light that are high contrast and lower contrast.

    This basic set of skins should have obviously meaningful names and be included in that cool skin-picker in the footer. Not all people have the same vision needs at all times. It should not be assumed that one account=one use case or one user, and logged out users should have easy access to site accessibility tools.

    2. Provide for users a code free way of changing the base background and font colour on all skins. Perhaps this could be done by adding font colour to the wizard and incorporating a colour picker and preview of the font on the background into the wizard as well.

    3. Document the skins in their descriptions--no public skin should ever have a blank description--as to their general characteristics of font colour, background colour, contrast style and light on dark/dark on light.

    4. Make sure the images on the public skins page match reality--I believe some are now not reflective of the new default skin colours.

    5. Make sure all mouse targets are acquirable by any user. The post new and log out have no buffer between them, they're both too small and they are too close to the icon, which is a link. That thin red bar under the icon is not enough buffer. (Most of the rest of the target sizes look okay, but I haven't looked at every page.)

    6. Make sure the visual cues for links (on the default skin or skins) have enough difference from each other while maintaining enough contrast and brightness difference from the background to have meaning and utility. I think there's a difference now between a visited and an unvisited link for tags in blurbs or work headers, but I can't actually perceive it. Visited links and some hover colours on the default skin dip into the range of low contrast against the white background, and positively painfully low contrast against the grey borders, as on some comments. There is now no consistency across the site on the default skin in visual cues in link colours and hover colours.

    7. The new pop-up box for the Share button is awesome! No more scrolling when I only want part of the code. (I threw that in, cuz I just noticed.)

    8. There is a lot of scrolling required for the dashboard sidebar and the filter sidebar (even with all options collapsed). This seems unnecessary.

    9. This one is mostly my personal taste, but it's got a bit of universal design in it--dotted lines under links make them blurry for some people. It's really noticeable on the tags page.

    10. There should be a font size adjustment on the work display page. The work display is a page used by many people in a fundamentally different way from the rest of the site (I actually think there should be the ability to style it completely differently, but I'm afraid that boat sailed.) and for some users that may require variable fonts as you get deeper into a story. This is also base level accessibility in the easiest possible way for logged-out users. Killer feature here would be one click switch between light on dark and dark on light.

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    1. Purple clockwork gears

      Hi again, Facetofcathy!

      We've actually been receiving a lot of suggestions via Support tickets, too, but this works just as well. I've copied this whole-hog onto the list the Coders are reviewing in the after-deploy. These are all completely valid accessibility issues. I should note, specifically for 3 and 4, we're working on improving the documentation and catching the previews up after the emergency deploy.

      Sam J.
      AO3 Support

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