What this is all about
On June 16, Ravelry launched a new look. This was over a year in the making, and the team behind the site worked really hard and spent money and all the usual other things you would expect for such a huge project. Unfortunately, it became pretty immediately obvious that the site was not accessible, even beyond the usual ways that companies miss on accessibility - there have been reports of nausea, headaches, and even seizures because of the new UX (user experience). As well, it's been reported that the new site is much more unusable with screenreaders. And I'm now seeing reports that the new look is playing havoc with the mobile experience: example 1, example 2.
BTW, if you're reading this and thinking, "Nausea, headaches, seizures? From a website? Seriously?!"...yes, seriously. It is a thing. Web accessibility issues can cause physical reactions. To understand more about how bad this is:
- Instagram user @lizamakesthings explains more in a series of video stories, just tap through the images until you get to the videos.)
- Twitter user @Quiara wrote a thread about what physically happens in a seizure and its aftermath
- NEW: Designer (extraordinaire) Tania Richter chronicled the real-life impact this has had on her.
This is obviously very disappointing on a number of levels. Primarily, I don't want people to be hurt. Secondarily, I don't want people to be edged out of using an incredibly useful site. And also, for me specifically, business-wise, Ravelry as a selling channel for my patterns accounted for almost 90% of my sales last year, a percentage that's been steadily on the rise since 2013. Although I've had other sales channels, I always used to direct people to Ravelry by default because of the ease of use for all concerned.
The staff there were kind of listening at first, but improvement was slow, small, and grudging. The staff then began claiming not only that many of the reported accessibility issues don't exist, but that the new version of the site is "the most accessible version of Ravelry ever". Apologies have since been issued, and a commitment to improved accessibility has been made, but the most serious accessibility issues are still in place.
Overall, there doesn't seem to be any real understanding about accessibility on their part, no willingness to bring in expertise, no willingness to believe those who are reporting health issues, and I'm not confident this is ever going to be fixed.
(Incidentally, as a designer, I noticed that activity on Ravelry around my designs - likes, queues, etc. - has noticeably tanked since it became clear the redesign was harming people.)
Other informational resources:
- If you're interested in knowing more details about my feelings on all this (I have many), I wrote:
- A Twitter thread (what Ravelry did wrong)
- And then another Twitter thread (why Ravelry's blog response was deeply problematic)
- And yet another Twitter thread (why accessibility is important to all people)
- And, you guessed it, another Twitter thread (evaluation of Ravelry's response to the open letter from designers)
- On Reddit
- Another excellent summary
- Blog post which I pretty much 100% agree with on all points, minus the migraine experience
- Don't know very much about accessibility? That's okay, you can educate yourself! Here are some links:
- Twitter thread about the importance of accessibility (author relates it somewhat to Ravelry)
- Article: Why web accessibility is so important
- W3C's Accessibility Fundamentals
- W3C's accessibility tutorials
- I really recommend watching "Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution"; it's on Netflix - it's about the disabilities aspect of the civil rights movement in the U.S. and it's a big eye-opener/wokeness-inducer
- A breakdown of some of the specific issues on Ravelry
- Twitter hashtags: